From graduating in a pandemic to helping uncover the mysteries of the legendary Oak Island, Miriam Amirault is a recent UNB Graduate that has her sights set high.
Originally from Digby, Nova Scotia, Amirault did not always know that she wanted a career in archaeology. In fact, she was surprised to learn that it was an option.
“I was in twelfth grade, it was second semester, and I still hadn’t chosen a university that I wanted to go to,” she explained. “[I] saw that UNB offered archaeology and I remember saying to [my mom], ‘wait, that’s a career?’”
Amirault explained that she chose UNB because her father was an alumni, but that she chose the program on a complete whim. She was also glad that the university was not too far from her Nova Scotian home.
“I wanted to spread my wings and get out of my hometown, so New Brunswick was kind of a perfect fit for me,” Amirault said. “Just far enough away that I felt like I was doing my own thing, but close enough to home that I felt comfortable.”
In her second semester at UNB, Amirault received multiple messages from her friends and family, alerting her to an online advertisement for an archaeological dig. Dr. Aaron Taylor, professional archaeologist and professor at Acadia University, was looking for students to take part in a dig in Cuba.
Amirault set her expectations low, not expecting Dr. Taylor to pick a first-year student, but was pleasantly surprised when she was invited along.
“I needed to know if this was something I actually wanted to do, I needed to know if I wanted to be on a dig at all. So I just went on a whim, and I did it, and it was pretty awesome,” she said.
Amirault graduated in the midst of a pandemic in Spring 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts, honouring in Anthropology and majoring in Classical Studies.
“I didn’t want something to come between me and graduation and all the hard work that I’ve put in for the last four years,” Amirault said, explaining her thoughts on graduating in a pandemic.
Soon after graduation, Dr. Aaron Taylor reached out to Amirault and asked her to join him and a team of archaeologists working on the well known television show, The Curse of Oak Island.
“Just through this professor that I had worked with before, it was kind of a beautiful opportunity,” she said.
Oak Island is just off the coast of Nova Scotia, and is infamously known for its legendary treasure. The show, The Curse of Oak Island, has eight seasons which chronicle the hunt for the treasure that apparently lies within the bounds of the island.
Being from Nova Scotia, Amirault was somewhat familiar with this local legend, but had not invested much time in watching the series. Amirault spent three and a half months working with the show in the Summer of 2020 and, while she cannot disclose much of her experience, she is thankful for the opportunity.
“It was awesome just to be trusted, and to have my opinions be validated and believed,” she explained, grateful for how seriously her input was taken, “especially being fresh out of university.”
Following her television debut, Amirault intends to make the move to Toronto to study Forensics at Humber College.
“I ended up taking a forensics course with Dr. Amy Scott [at UNB], and it was just so interesting,” she said. “Again, I’m going on a whim to see where it takes me.”
Amirault credits interpersonal connections for her career success thus far, and encourages undergraduates to branch out.
“Make those connections. I didn’t realize how important they were until this opportunity came up,” she explained. “Because of a connection that I made in my first year of university, I got this amazing job.”