Field notes

Q&A with GIS Technician & Assistant Archaeologist Sydney Atkinson

Sydney Atkinson is a GIS Technician & Assistant Archaeologist and has been with Circle CRM since July 2019. She graduated from the University of Lethbridge in 2018 with her B.Sc. in Archaeology and Geography, and just recently (April), graduated from the Southern Alberta Institute for Technology with a Bachelor’s degree in GIS. In her spare time, you can find Sydney playing video games alongside her partner and pups, or working on her latest candle-making side hustle… TBA! That is when she’s not trying to recreate the boreal forest in her own home filled head to toe with plants, including a Jade that has been in her family for 40+ years. 

Read on to learn more about Sydney!

What is one piece of field equipment that you absolutely cannot live without?

Not reaaaaaallly equipment, but my toque. People have always made fun of me for wearing one in the summer – but rain or shine, that toque is on my head. I have OCD and minor phobias, so contamination is a big one for me. Outside time with all of the bugs and critters wanting to crawl on me or get in my ears is no fun.

What brought you into the consulting archaeology industry?

A job! I wanted to start my career as an archaeologist, and CRM was the most available avenue of archaeology. My dream has always been to go back and get a Master’s, and then a Ph.D. so I can teach at the post-secondary level. Maybe one day I’ll get there, but for now, I’m quite happy with where I’m at with the career I’m building.

What do you find the most challenging about being a consulting archaeologist?

I think the most challenging aspect of this line of work is that it’s all shift based. Though it can be nice to step away from the “real” world for a week or two, It can be quite lonesome and isolating without a supportive team, family and friends.

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

I think, like most archaeologists – connecting the past to the present and aiding in telling the story of humans is what I find most rewarding. There’s nothing quite like finding an oldartifact and teasing out how it was made, how it got there, why it was there, etc.

Where is your favourite place that you’ve worked? 

My favourite place that I’ve worked would be right here in southern Alberta. (How lame, hey.) I’ve had the pleasure of finding many stone circles and cairns, projectile points and bones! There’s a lot of diversity right in our back door – we just have to find it!

Do you prefer cats, dogs or another type of pet?

DOGS! All of the dogs all of the time. I have two pitty babies myself, Yuna (6.5 yrs) and Rhetto (age unknown). Yuna was our first, and I always wanted to get her a little friend to grow old with. About two years ago, we started fostering pups – if you haven’t done this, do it. It is so incredibly rewarding. Through that experience, we found our boy Rhetto. Long story short, we foster failed and are keeping him forever – it’s been over a year, and we can’t imagine life without him.

Do you have any siblings or interesting family members?

I have three brothers, one blood (Julian) and two bonus (Matthew & Dylan). I think my mom is pretty cool, haha. She was an Olympic track and field athlete from, I believe, 12 years old to 28. She competed in discus, shot put and sometimes hammer toss. Through this experience, she traveled all over the world and met many interesting people, like Vanilla Ice. Ice Ice Baby. For the past 30 years, she’s been working in health care, the past 20 as a paramedic. Another fun fact is I was born on her birthday – you could say I ruined it for her. Also, Happy Belated Birthday, Mom (our birthday is October 1st)!

Name one to three facts about yourself that are unique.

  1. I share a birthday with my mother.
  2. I have a birthmark in the shape of an S, also another on my neck that everyone mistakes for a hickey (real cool guys).
  3. I broke my tailbone and then went to a geology field school for two weeks (it was all hiking and many tears).

How would you spend your evening if you were in a cabin with no cell service and little internet?

Card games – I am a tad competitive, so… play at your own risk. 

What is your archaeological dream?

To experience digging in as many countries as possible! Also, studying rock art in the Scandinavian countries would be pretty high on my list too. 

If you could travel to a country specifically to do archaeology, where would it be?

If money wasn’t an issue – Peru, Turkey, Italy, Australia, or Norway! The list could go on and on, immerse me in diverse cultures, and I’m there.

Every time I do international travel, something terrible happens. Do you have any curses we should know about?

Not to do with traveling! Come with me, it’s a breeze. 

The only curse I have that my coworkers will attest to is my freaking ankles! I have chronic issues with my feet and ankles that cause a lot of pain… ANYHOW, my loving coworkers gave me the nickname “Sydney Ankles” or “Ankles.” 

How did you learn about Circle, and what made you want to join our community? 

The first time I heard about Circle was at a conference where I had the opportunity to meet Margarita and Jode. I believe the first impression they had of me was witnessing me challenge my professor on 90’s rap artists. But if you know Margarita, you can probably see how that worked in my favour!

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