Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut October 24, 2012 - 12:10 pm

Curley dumps on summer Franklin ship-search in Nunavut

“This expedition is simply wrong"

A 19th century artist’s imagined representation of Sir John Franklin’s lost ships, the Erebus and the Terror. (HARPER COLLECTION)
A 19th century artist’s imagined representation of Sir John Franklin’s lost ships, the Erebus and the Terror. (HARPER COLLECTION)

Tagak Curley, the MLA for Rankin Inlet North, said in the legislative assembly Oct. 23 that he opposes the search for the lost John Franklin expedition vessels — a statement that made many MLAs laugh.

The 1845-46 vessels, the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror have been missing for more than 160 years, and this past August Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced a new Parks Canada project to continue the search for the lost vessels.

The federal government’s contribution to the four-to-six-week project amounted to $275,000.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. received the exclusive right to cover the 2012 Franklin search expedition, and used top-ranked journalists like Reg Sherren and David Common to report on it.

CBC even used Peter Mansbridge, the anchor of The National evening news broadcast, to provide Canada-wide coverage.

“Although I have a passion for Arctic history I believe that this expedition is simply wrong, simply wrong for the people of Nunavut,” Curley said.

“At a time when the federal government is cutting funds for numerous organizations and programs that benefit Canadians, I can think of 275,000 better uses for this funding and not look for lost ships. He was a foreigner. We should just keep him buried at that,” Curley said in his member’s statement.

“The events of 1845-46 are a part of our national history. However, I believe that we should demonstrate respect and allow the remains of the expedition — wherever they may be — to rest in peace and lie undisturbed.”

But, during question period, James Arreak, minister of culture and heritage, defended the continuing search, noting that the Franklin ships are internationally known and looking for them will benefit Nunavut.

“If we should find it, it’s going to be beneficial for us in the future and we can also look at creating a heritage site,” he said.

But Curley said governments should “let them rest in peace and lie undisturbed.”

And he wanted to know how much money the Government of Nunavut has contributed to the project.

Arreak said the GN put $25,000 into the project.

But the federal government will cover most of the cost, Arreak added,  “paying for the airfare, the accommodation and so on.”

“That’s the only thing that we agreed to, and we don’t intend to spend a lot of money on this issue,” Arreak said.

But Curley said private companies should pay for projects like the Franklin search.

The GN should withdraw its support for the project right away, he said.

Arreak disagreed because “we have to preserve the heritage of Nunavut and protect the archaeological sites in Nunavut,” he said.

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