Q & A with Jeff Aviss
By Sarah Bartlett
Junior Analyst Jeff Aviss joined Communica’s Stakeholder Information Management (SIM) team in April 2018. In addition to his core abilities in information management, Jeff has an extensive background in archaeology, a keen interest in history and a passion for the outdoors.
In his early career as an archaeologist, Jeff often interacted with Indigenous Peoples. With one of Communica’s core services being Indigenous engagement, Jeff’s experience brings real value to the SIM team.
Q: You joined Communica in April 2018, how has your experience been so far?
A: So far my experience with Communica has been excellent – I’ve been learning and developing a host of new skills and developing a unique understanding of the regulatory requirements and processes for energy projects in Canada. It’s been an exciting and rewarding experience over the past three months. I’m extremely fortunate and excited to be a part of the SIM team and Communica.
Q: You’re currently working for the SIM team. Can you describe the services SIM provides?
A: The SIM team is a group of highly detailed oriented and organized analysts who consistently and objectively input all records into databases and online applications that will be used to help our clients meet their regulatory requirements. The SIM team ensures the consistent, timely and factual tracking of all stakeholder engagement activities and concerns, and we will also work with our clients to identify and fill in any information gaps.
Q: Can you describe the work you do as Junior Analyst?
A: As a Junior Analyst the bulk of my work is reading, summarizing, and documenting consultation and engagement records in an organized and structured manner for our clients, which will eventually be used to inform and prepare their regulatory filings and applications. I’ve also had the opportunity to work on other types of projects related to stakeholder information management including completing commitment registries and generating stakeholder maps.
Q: You completed your Hons. BA in Archaeology at the University of Toronto and your MPhil in Classical Archaeology at the University of Oxford. Tell us about your experiences in archaeology.
A: I completed my first archaeological dig all the way back in high school, in the 11th grade, in Ontario at the Boyd Archaeological Field School. I was always interested in history, but I wanted to be outdoors and active, so I was hooked to archaeology.
From there I completed my Hons. BA in Archaeology at the University of Toronto where I completed a field school in Jordan at the Tell Madaba Archaeological Field School. This experience really opened up my interest in archaeology in the Middle East and Mediterranean. After my undergraduate degree, I completed my MPhil in Classical Archaeology from the University of Oxford.
While completing my masters I had the opportunity to do a research field session in conjunction with Stanford University on the Catalhoyuk Research Project in central Turkey, near Konya. At the end of that project I was able to travel around the Mediterranean and specifically throughout Greece and the Cycladic Islands, where I explored the archaeological sites and ruins of the Minoan and Mycenaeans.
After my schooling I worked for engineering and environmental consulting firms as an archaeologist in southwestern Ontario and Fort St. John, B.C., where I conducted archaeological impact assessments and excavations for development projects for clients in the oil and gas, mining, utilities and renewable energy industries. My last international fieldwork was during the break-up period of 2015 where I got to work on the Sarouq al-Hadeed Archaeological Project near Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Q: You’ve conducted environmental and archaeological impact assessments for a variety of projects including transportation, utilities, mining, renewable energy, and oil and gas. Can you describe that work and why it’s necessary?
A: As an archaeologist in Ontario and B.C., I worked for engineering and environmental consulting companies that would help clients complete their archaeological and environmental impact study assessments. This work was necessary to protect and preserve archaeological and cultural heritage resources from development that may negatively impact or destroy those cultural resources.
The work of an archaeologist is very challenging and requires strong mental and physical strength and stamina as the field work is completed in all seasons (even in the winter when it gets down to minus -30 C in northern B.C.), rain, shine, or snow, and typically requires hiking over 10 kilometres a day with your equipment. On the plus side, not only do you get to go to some of the most remote and beautiful parts of the country, but you also get to use a variety of fun vehicles and equipment like large pickup trucks, ATVS, UTVs, and my favourite: snowmobiles.
Q: You have a background working with Indigenous Peoples. What did you learn from those experiences?
A: When conducting archaeological and environmental assessments, I would work closely with Indigenous groups and representatives whose territorial lands the project was located within. We would carefully listen and document the Indigenous representatives’ concerns or issues, while also working together to help discover and protect the archaeological and cultural heritage of the area.
Some of my favourite experiences working with Indigenous Peoples was learning about their cultural, historical, and spiritual connections to the land which in the context of conducting our archaeological surveys helped us tremendously in helping discover and then protect archaeological sites.
Q: What are some of the things you’re looking forward to with your role now at Communica?
A: I’m looking forward to the opportunity to work on a variety of projects and to continue to develop a better and deeper understanding of the various regulatory requirements for energy projects across Canada.
We’re happy to have Jeff onboard as part of the SIM team at Communica! To learn more about Communica’s talented roster of knowledgeable, creative and skilled team members, check out Communica’s team page.