Parks Canada defers 2021 research season at Franklin Expedition sites

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Parks Canada defers 2021 research season at Franklin Expedition sites

by pmnationtalk on July 7, 2021194 Views

In response to COVID-19, Agency to focus on advancing HMS Erebus and HMS Terror research plans for the 2022 season

July 07, 2021 Gatineau, Quebec Parks Canada Agency

The legendary story of Sir John Franklin’s journey, and how Inuit knowledge, science and archaeology work together inspire Canadians and audiences worldwide.

Today, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, Jonathan Wilkinson, announced that Parks Canada’s Underwater Archaeology Team (UAT) will shift its focus in 2021 to supporting work related to the Agency’s research and conservation mandate in eastern Canada. Parks Canada will continue its collaboration with Inuit to conduct important research on the artifacts retrieved from HMS Erebus in 2019, and advance plans for the 2022 research season.

This decision, supported by the Franklin Interim Advisory Committee, aligns with efforts to keep Nunavut and its residents in high-risk and isolated communities safe from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), and was taken because fieldwork operations would have entailed close contact between travelling research staff and isolated northern communities and on account of significant logistical challenges and risks associated with COVID-19.

While challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic have deferred onsite fieldwork at the Franklin Expedition wrecks for 2021, Parks Canada will continue to highlight the ongoing archaeological research related to the wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, and the role of Inuit in the first jointly managed national historic site in Nunavut, by making new Franklin-related content available through a variety of virtual and digital formats.

Parks Canada will share information about the Underwater Archaeology Team’s 2021 research activities aboard the RV David Thompson in eastern Canada as details are confirmed.

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Quotes

“The story of science, archaeology and collaboration with Inuit knowledge keepers told at the Wrecks of the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror National Historic Site serves as a source of inspiration that continues to capture the imagination and attention of audiences worldwide. Parks Canada remains committed to taking necessary action to limit the spread of COVID-19 and minimize the risk to Nunavut and its communities. After a milestone year recovering over 350 artifacts from the wreck of HMS Erebus in 2019, and gathering some of the first interior footage of HMS Terror, we look forward to sharing even more of the extraordinary results of the ongoing research into this treasured place.”

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson,
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada

“The Franklin Interim Advisory Committee supports Parks Canada’s decision to defer the 2021 underwater archaeology research season in Nunavut. It is important to minimize the risks to the communities. We will continue our work of advising on the management of the wrecks, as well as support the ongoing work being done to share the stories relating to the Wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror National Historic Site. “

Fred Pedersen,
Chair, Franklin Interim Advisory Committee

Quick facts

  • The Wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror National Historic Site is the first collaboratively managed national historic site in Nunavut. HMS Terror was added to the Wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror National Historic Site in 2017, ensuring legal protection for the wreck site under the Canada National Parks Act. The wreck of HMS Erebus was added to the National Historic Sites of Canada Order in 2015.
  • Formed in 2016, the Franklin Interim Advisory Committee, comprised of community members and representatives from the Kitikmeot Inuit Association, Inuit Heritage Trust, Government of Nunavut, the heritage and tourism industry and Parks Canada, advises on the management of the wrecks until an Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement is finalized between Parks Canada and the Kitikmeot Inuit Association.
  • Since 2017, a Guardian program has been in operation at the Wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror National Historic Site, involving Inuit from Gjoa Haven in the protection and monitoring of the Franklin wrecks and helping integrate Inuit knowledge into Parks Canada’s operations and management of the national historic site.
  • Since 2018, all newly discovered artifacts from HMS Erebus and HMS Terror are jointly-owned by the Government of Canada and Inuit. In April 2019, the Government of Canada and Inuit Heritage Trust signed a Memorandum of Understanding detailing how the two organizations will work together to protect, study, conserve and share the Franklin artifacts.
  • In August 2019, Parks Canada released extraordinary, never-before-seen video footage of HMS Terror as part of one of the largest, most complex underwater archaeological undertakings in Canadian history. Building on the remarkable first-ever exploration of the interior of HMS Terror, Parks Canada’s Underwater Archaeology Team, in collaboration with Inuit, recovered over 350 artifacts from HMS Erebus.

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Associated links

Contacts

Moira Kelly
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
819-271-6218
moira.kelly@canada.ca

Media Relations
Parks Canada Agency
855-862-1812
pc.medias-media.pc@canada.ca

NT5

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