A team of geologists and archaeologists is about to start looking for ancient sites in the Debert-Belmont area of Colchester County where the early ancestors of the Mi’kmaq once lived. The sites are the earliest evidence of human settlement in the province, and are considered to be of provincial, national and international significance. The province will provide $93,800 for the project, which is part of an ongoing effort by the aboriginal community to protect and interpret the Mi’kmaq presence in the Debert area. The project will be managed by the Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq. “Evidence of Mi’kmaw history that might have been lost forever will be saved, thanks to this partnership project with the province,” said Don Julien, executive director, Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq. “The research will help us protect the archaeological sites where our Mi’kmaw ancestors once lived.” The Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage will invest $48,800 and the Office of Aboriginal Affairs will provide $45,000 to identify Debert’s early Mi’kmaq archaeological sites from the Paleo Period, approximately 11,000 to 12,000 years old. The project includes creation of an inventory of the sites, study of the findings, and development of plans to ensure their preservation. “It is important that we identify and protect sites which will help current and future generations better understand the history and culture of our Mi’kmaq residents,” said Michael Baker, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs. “This project is an important part of preserving Nova Scotia’s rich cultural and natural heritage,” said Rodney MacDonald, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage. “We are investing in this vital work through the Nova Scotia Historic Places Initiative, a program that identifies and celebrates sites that have historic significance in our communities.” Earlier this week, a team led by the Department of Natural Resources started exploring the area to identify and map land forms from the Paleo Period. Land formations and waterways were very different 12,000 years ago. By knowing how the landscape looked in the past, archaeologists can determine more precisely the location of ancient places. The research will be used to identify and map the boundaries of archaeological sites. A site management plan will be developed to ensure preservation and protection.