Government of Canada and Kitikmeot Inuit Association sign agreement promoting Inuit leadership at Wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror National Historic Site
The $23-million Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement will help to establish the first Inuit-led national historic site in Nunavut
OTTAWA, ON, March 23, 2023 /CNW/ - Tales of the fabled Franklin expedition have always been interwoven with the story of Inuit skill, knowledge and perseverance in the Arctic. For generations, Inuit have been passing down accounts of their interactions with the doomed sailors along with some of the objects they left behind. Together, these tales and artifacts tell the story of this fateful voyage and how the ships arrived at their final resting locations.
On March 2, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, and Mr. Robert Greenley, President of the Kitikmeot Inuit Association (KIA), signed a ten-year Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement for the Wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror National Historic Site; a site that has sparked international curiosity and wonder for over a century.
The Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement sets out a new model for a cooperative relationship established between Parks Canada and Inuit. Through communication and collaboration on shared goals, the Wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror will progressively become a fully Inuit-led national historic site. The Agreement supports economic development opportunities 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.
The Kitikmeot Inuit Association and the Nattilik Heritage Society, in Gjoa Haven, will receive more than $23 million to collaboratively manage and operate the site with Parks Canada. The funds will be used for staffing, operations, interpretation, and to expand the Wrecks Guardians Program to include the establishment of base camps at the two wreck locations. On-site Inuit interpretation of the site will help broaden the narrative of the Franklin story to include traditional Inuit practices, hunting, knowledge sharing, and the story of Inuit interaction with Franklin's crew that took place on Inuit lands over 170 years ago.
The Government of Canada and the Kitikmeot Inuit Association would like to take this opportunity to thank the Franklin Interim Advisory Committee for providing valuable advice on the management of the Wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror National Historic Site, and for building strong relationships in the spirit of a collaborative management model. The Franklin Interim Advisory Committee was comprised of Inuit community members and representatives from the Kitikmeot Inuit Association, Inuit Heritage Trust, Government of Nunavut and the regional tourism industry.
"The discoveries of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror is a story of Inuit knowledge combined with scientific research. Now, with the signing of this progressive and innovative agreement, the Kitikmeot region Inuit will secure the ongoing conservation and management of the Wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror National Historic Site. This agreement blazes the trail for economic benefits to flow to Inuit partners to establish Nunavut's first operational and Inuit-led national historic site. The Government of Canada looks forward to continued collaboration with the Kitikmeot Inuit Association and the Nattilik Heritage Society to share this fascinating site with Canadians and the world."
The Honourable Steven Guilbeault
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada
"This agreement is the result of a great, multi-year collaboration between the Kitikmeot region Inuit and the Government of Canada. Guided by Inuit leadership, the establishment of this first operational national historic site of Canada in Nunavut will share the story of the Franklin expedition and the fate of its sailors across Canada and internationally. 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. I am extremely pleased to have been part of the signing of this historic agreement."
President, Kitikmeot Inuit Association
"The Nattilik Heritage Centre is a gathering place for Inuit and visitors to learn about Inuit culture, past explorers and the artifacts that were left behind. In recent years, the Nattilik Heritage Centre has been able to use funds provided by the Government of Canada to secure additional resources to realize our dream of a modern museum-quality building. The museum will display artifacts from polar explorations while sharing the rich cultural past of Inuit with all who visit and live in Gjoa Haven."
Chairperson, Nattilik Heritage Centre
Under the Nunavut Agreement, an Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement must be negotiated with the designated Inuit organization prior to establishing any protected area in Nunavut. Upon discovery of the HMS Erebus in 2014 and in consultation with Inuit, the Government of Canada relied on an emergency provision of the Nunavut Agreement, article 9.4.1, to bring the wreck under legal protection prior to negotiating an Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement.
Until the Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement was signed, the site was managed in the spirit of the Nunavut Agreement through the Franklin Interim Advisory Committee. The Franklin Interim Advisory Committee was comprised of Inuit community members and representatives from the Kitikmeot Inuit Association, Inuit Heritage Trust, Government of Nunavut and the tourism industry, and provided valuable advice and collaboration on the management of the wrecks until now.
The locations of the Franklin Expedition vessels had been a mystery for over 150 years after Sir John Franklin and his crew went missing in 1846 while searching for a northwest passage. HMS Erebus was located in 2014 and HMS Terror was located in 2016.
The wreck of HMS Erebus was added to the National Historic Sites of Canada Order in 2015, ensuring legal protection for the wreck under the Canada National Parks Act. HMS Terror was added in 2017, following the recommendation of the Franklin Interim Advisory Committee.
The sites of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror are not open to the public at this time and a permit is required to enter the protected areas; however, Parks Canada and the Nattilik Heritage Society are working to develop visitor experience activities that support the long-term protection of both wreck sites.
Inuit can access the site for traditional harvesting activities by way of the Nunavut Agreement.
Inuktitut version of the News Release
SOURCE Parks Canada
View original content: http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/March2023/23/c9139.html