Sep 5, 2023

Vancouver, BC – Langara students Wing Yuet Tang and Mackenzie Galbraith enjoyed an archaeological adventure this summer. The pair joined Langara sociology and anthropology instructor Cara Tremain, co-researcher Alec McLellan (Trent University, Ontario) and students from Trent University and Galen University (Belize) on a month-long field research in Belize this summer. 

The Coco Chan site is located near the town of Indian Church in Belize. After excavating Coco Chan’s “city centre” – about 2.5 square kilometres – Tang, Gabraith, and the team found and identified colonial period artefacts. 

Langara’s student researchers were able to apply lessons learned in the classroom in the field and learn new skills. 

“The most memorable learning experience for me was 3D scanning. Although 3D scanning may sound like an easy job, it requires a lot of patience. A single mistake can mess up the outcome of the scanning process,” said Tang, a Langara classical studies student and aspiring archaeologist. 

“The discovery of the colonial pipe was one of my most memorable,” said Galbraith, who studied history at Langara and successfully transferred to Simon Fraser University this fall. “It was also a lot of fun learning how to fly the drone that Alec brought.” 

The team also had opportunities to visit nearby archaeological sites Lamanai and Cerros, as well as for cultural exchanges: interacting with Belizeans in Indian Church, visiting a local school, and spending time off-site on short excursions. 

“I thoroughly enjoyed the trip and created many wonderful memories with the team and the people I met at Indian Church,” added Galbraith. 

Giannie Mai, a Belizean student from Galen University, worked closely with Tremain and McLellan as an important member of their small research team.  

“Not only was Giannie able to form good relationships with us as project directors, but she was also able to form very good relationships with her fellow students and community members. I am glad we were able to facilitate these personal connections, in addition to giving her hands-on archaeological experience. She also told us that she was glad to have spent time in this part of Belize, which she otherwise would not have visited as it is remote.” 

“On other archaeological projects, students often learn from graduate students or other supervisors, rather than project directors,” explained Tremain. “I am glad we were able to directly teach our student researchers and show them all the different facets of running a research project, rather than delegate their learning to someone else.” 

Future fieldwork will include more collaborators, including ceramic and faunal specialists, and a greater number of students. 

The project was funded by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) grant awarded to Tremain and McLellan in late 2022.

About snəw̓eyəɬ leləm̓ Langara College
Located in beautiful Vancouver, B.C., Canada, snəw̓eyəɬ leləm̓ Langara College provides University, Career, and Continuing Studies education to more than 23,000 students annually. With more than 1,700 courses and 130 programs, Langara’s expansive academic breadth and depth allows students of all ages, backgrounds, and life stages to choose their own educational path. Langara is also known as snəw̓eyəɬ leləm̓, a name given to it by the Musqueam people on whose unceded traditional territory the College is located.

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Mark Dawson
Manager, Public Affairs 



PHOTO: Students (L-R) Giannie Mai, Wing Yuet Tang, and Mackenzie Galbraith examine artifacts recovered at the Coco Chan site in Belize.