Inuit, Parks Canada sign $23M agreement to manage Franklin wrecks
Wrecks of HMS Erebus, HMS Terror to be first Inuit-led national historic site in Nunavut
A new $23-million agreement between Parks Canada and Inuit organizations will establish the first Inuit-led national historic site in Nunavut.
Earlier this month, federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault and Kitikmeot Inuit Association president Robert Greenley signed a 10-year plan to develop and manage the Wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror National Historic Site.
The two shipwrecks from the historic 1845 Franklin Expedition will become a fully Inuit-led national historic site over the next 10 years.
Kitikmeot Inuit Association in Cambridge Bay and Nattilik Heritage Society in Gjoa Haven will receive more than $23 million to collaboratively manage and operate the site with Parks Canada under the plan, announced Thursday by the federal government.
“The Wrecks of the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror National Historic Site will serve as a window into our past and a gateway to an enhanced tourism offer for our region,” said Greenley in a statement.
The money will pay for staffing, operations, interpretation, and to expand the Wrecks Guardian program to include opening base camps at the two wreck locations, a Parks Canada spokesperson said.
The agreement is also expected to support economic development in Gjoa Haven and Cambridge Bay through an Inuit business development fund, an Inuit cultural and heritage fund, an Inuit scholarship fund, Inuit training and employment opportunities, and the Wrecks Guardian program.
Prior to that, the site was managed through the Franklin Interim Advisory Committee, composed of Inuit community members and representatives from the Kitikmeot Inuit Association, Inuit Heritage Trust, the Government of Nunavut and the tourism industry, which provided advice and collaboration on managing the wrecks.
The locations of the Franklin Expedition vessels remained a mystery for more than 160 years after Sir John Franklin and his crew went missing in 1846 while searching for the Northwest Passage.
HMS Erebus was found in 2014 and HMS Terror was located in 2016.
Recent dives by Parks Canada archeologists recovered hundreds of artifacts from the sites. The Nattilik Heritage Society is working on a plan to display some of those artifacts for the public at the Nattilik Heritage Centre in Gjoa Haven.