The city of Montreal (and all of Canada and the United States, actually) sits atop territory unceded to the indigenous populations that once held soveriegnty here.
Current settler infrastructure is literally built on top of the extensive edifices and structures built hundreds if not thousands of years ago by indigenous people.
Historically, European settlers have been negligent in their development of the land. Until just a few decades ago, urban planners and engineers tore indiscriminately through sites once occupied by a thriving society.
Recently, however, public officials have been careful to conduct careful research and archaeological excavations before any major digs in Montreal.
Today, fortunately, that attention unearthed a remarkable find: a large settlement right under the core of Montreal's downtown.
Excavation at the corner of Sherbrooke and Peel in front of McGill University produced evidence of a centre that thrived just six hundred years ago.
According to La Presse, the discovery of beluga teeth in particular point to the extensive trade networks that centered on what is now Montreal island. Belugas, of course, occupy the coldest depths of the Arctic Ocean, far from the Saint Lawrence River.
The find will undoubtedly lead to a more intense archaeological focus on the area. According to the journal of Jacques Carter, the French explorer that claimed North American for France, large indigenous settlements, including the city of Hochelaga, once existed on the island.
Of course, indigenous people still call Montreal and the surrounding area home. Any artifacts found in downtown excavations rightfully belong to those populations.
This latest archaeological find comes as the city of Montreal moves to better recognize its indigenous past and the contributions of its indigenous inhabitants.