Introducing Two Women Who Have Dug Deep in the Field of Arctic Archaeology

By Wild Women Expeditions | March 7, 2023

Wild Women Expeditions first launched Arctic expeditions in 2022. While we are magnetically drawn there to experience the remote landscapes and distinct wildlife, this destination is made more memorable by the incredible women that we have the opportunity to meet along the way.

In our latest blog post, we highlight two women who are highly educated specialists in their field–-they are true explorers and ambassadors of the Arctic. 


Meet Dr. Latonia Hartery, Archaeologist, Viking Lover & Film Production Co. Founder

Photo credit: Dennis Minty

Dr. Hartery is one of Adventure Canada’s most experienced and respected expedition team members and is best known for her depth of knowledge surrounding Arctic and Atlantic Canada archaeology. She has been an integral part of the team since 2005 and a part of 30 small ship expeditions. Dr. Hartery doesn’t stop there–she has her own research station in northern Newfoundland called Bird Cove which was established 25 years ago.

Her interpretation of the region’s 9,000-year-old archaeological sites is recognized and honored by Adventure Canada, especially in the process of accessing permits. She is frequently consulted on best practices and the sustainable assessment of new, potential landing sites in sensitive environs.  

Aboard the ship (and ashore), Dr. Hartery shares her interpretation of archaeological sites, screens and interprets related films and presents fascinating bits of her tireless research.

On the Greenland to Wild Labrador Adventure, Dr. Hartery shares her palpable affection for the exploration of L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site. Newfoundland is her beloved home after all!

L’Anse aux Meadows Photo credit: Dennis Minty

“The site has both fascinating European and Indigenous history. L’Anse aux Meadows is probably one of the most affecting stops that we have, in terms of understanding just how early Europeans—Norse—were here.

Vikings in general are fascinating. It’s a wonderful exercise for people to try to imagine how the site would have been working a thousand years ago. Plus, a female archaeologist, Anne Stine Ingstad, excavated this famous archaeological site; with the help of locals and professionals, and it became one of the first UNESCO World Heritage sites.“

Dr. Hartley’s talents seep into filmmaking too. LJH is a film production company that amplifies the stories of women, women writers and directors with an East Coast spotlight.

Let’s give Dr. Hartely a standing ovation for Bird Cove and her dedication to supporting the story and success of women.


Meet Lena Onalik, Archaeologist and Cultural Crusader

Photo credit: Krista Pinter Lachapelle

Lena Onalik is a celebrated archaeologist for the Nunatsiavut Government. She was part of an archaeological apprentice program introduced by the Quebec Labrador Foundation and the Smithsonian Institute’s Arctic Studies Centre. With a Major in Archaeology/Anthropology and a Minor in Aboriginal Studies from Newfoundland’s Memorial University.

The Inuit homeland of northern Labrador is millenia-deep with human history from the iconic sod houses and tent rings to Christian mission stations. Responsible for the cultural resource management of Nunatsiavut’s archaeological sites, data, and historical documents, Onalik is instrumental in the preservation and protection of these sacred sites. She’s also digging deeper on the Hebron Family Archaeology Project.

The community of Hebron was the initial site of the Moravian Christian missionaries in 1831. Historically, Inuit were nomadic. “We had seasonal homes, but there wasn’t one location where people lived all year round. When the Moravian presence came, it caused a more stationary lifestyle. Inuit still had seasonal lives, but Hebron (and other missionary sites like it) became their main place of residence.” In 1959, the people of Hebron were forced from their homes by the provincial government who wanted to eliminate the expense of supporting remote outposts. 

For the past seven years, the Nunatsiavut Government has supported the Hebron Family Archaeology Project, which permits a relocated family from Hebron to return home for a week-long visit.

Onalik and her archaeology team accompany visiting families to record their moving stories with audio and video recorders. Inuttitut interpreters and a mental health support person are always in attendance to help support the family members as they tell their stories and seek answers to the silent trauma of losing their generational knowledge, dialect and traditions. In 2021, there were 52 applications from families who wanted to be involved in the Hebron Project.

Photo credit: Maria Merkuratsuk

Lena’s job is an immense responsibility. She will determine how this growing collection of archival documents are shared with the world. Her team has been industriously working on digitizing the original documents and Moravian records that were sent to the church’s main repository in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The archives are accessible to Nunatsiavut residents curious about their ancestry and family trees. 

Wild Women who are on the Greenland and Wild Labrador expedition this year will have the unique and unforgettable opportunity to travel with Lena this year and learn more about her involvement in land use applications, heritage forums, a book project and her concerns for climate change, melting permafrost and coastal erosion.