Government of Canada confirms wreck of HMS Terror and deepens collaboration with Inuit in Nunavut through co-ownership of Franklin Artifacts

News Release

September 26, 2016                        Ottawa, Ontario                              Parks Canada Agency

On September 18, 2016, Parks Canada’s Underwater Archaeology Team confirmed the identity of the wreck of HMS Terror, discovered off the shores of King William Island in Nunavut.

The discovery of HMS Terror was made possible thanks to a long-term partnership with northern communities, the Kitikmeot Inuit Association, the Government of Nunavut, Parks Canada, the Canadian Coast Guard, the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Hydrographic Service, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and many other government, private and non-profit partners, including the Arctic Research Foundation. This multi-faceted partnership was also at the heart of the discovery of HMS Erebus in 2014.  

The discovery of HMS Terror by the crew of the RV Martin Bergmann of the Arctic Research Foundation will contribute to answering the enduring questions around the fascinating story of the lost Franklin Expedition. The essential role played by Inuit in the search for HMS Erebus and HMS Terror underscores the importance of Inuit knowledge that led to these amazing discoveries.    

As we celebrate the discovery of HMS Terror, the Government of Canada is also pleased to announce that Parks Canada will work closely with Inuit in Nunavut and government organizations on the matter of joint-ownership of artifacts from HMS Erebus and HMS Terror. Working together to advance joint ownership of these historic artifacts is an opportunity to strengthen our Government’s relationship with Inuit in Nunavut.

The Government of Canada looks forward to continuing to build on the success of this partnership, particularly with the Government of Nunavut and the Kitikmeot Inuit Association, as Parks Canada continues to work towards cooperative management of the Wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror National Historic Site with the Kitikmeot Inuit Association.

The discovery of the long-lost Franklin ships has generated a lot of positive attention on Canada’s northern legacy and will provide a unique opportunity for economic development, increased tourism and other long-term benefits for Nunavut.

We look forward to further opportunities to strengthen our important relationships with the Government of Nunavut and Inuit in Nunavut.

Photos of the wreck of HMS Terror are available on the Parks Canada website:


“Our Government is committed to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and we value our relationship with the Inuit of Nunavut and with the Government of Nunavut. Inuit knowledge was at the heart of the discovery of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, and this should be recognized and celebrated. Joint-ownership of the artifacts from HMS Erebus with the Inuit Heritage Trust sets the stage for us to tell the stories of Nunavut’s history, culture and heritage. I am thrilled about the discovery of HMS Terror, and am just as committed to working with the Government of Nunavut and Inuit partners to protect and present all of the Franklin artifacts.”

The Honourable Catherine McKenna,
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada

“The discovery of both the HMS Erebus and Terror is an important time for Nunavut and Canada. I would
like to congratulate our partners and the community of Gjoa Haven and the Kitikmeot region as they played a vital role in sharing Inuit oral history, making the discoveries of the HMS Erebus and the HMS Terror
possible. I also look forward to the continued partnership between Nunavut and the Government of Canada as we move into the next phase of celebrating this discovery.”

Minister George Kuksuk,
Department of Culture and Heritage, Government of Nunavut

“In accordance with Inuit rights under the Nunavut Agreement, the Government of Canada has agreed to include Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. and the Inuit Heritage Trust in the negotiations concerning the joint ownership of the artifacts from both ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror. I am also very pleased that Inuit traditional knowledge is receiving the attention it deserves for the role it played in leading to the discovery of both ships from the Franklin expedition.”

Cathy Towtongie,
President, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc  

“Inuit Heritage Trust continues to look forward to working with the Franklin Interim Advisory Committee in the best interests for the community of Gjoa Haven. The Inuit Heritage Trust would like to recognize Sammy Kogvik for passing on his knowledge and assisting in the find of the HMS Terror.”

William Beveridge,
Executive Director, Inuit Heritage Trust

“Kitikmeot Inuit Association and Inuit are pleased to hear of the ongoing discussions with Great Britain to have the artifacts transferred to joint ownership under Canada and the Inuit Heritage Trust, we are pleased that this NLCA provision is being followed. We look forward to the artifacts being displayed in Nunavut. We also thank Inuit in Gjoa Haven for passing on Inuit Traditional Knowledge, which has been paramount in the discovery of both wrecks.”

Stanley Anablak,
President, Kitikmeot Inuit Association

Quick facts

  • In 1845, explorer Sir John Franklin set sail from England with two ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, in search of a Northwest Passage across what is now Canada's Arctic.
  • Both HMS Erebus and HMS Terror were built as Royal Navy bomb vessels that were converted for peacetime exploration in the Arctic because their robust construction provided them with a greater chance of withstanding the constant menace of pack ice and icebergs.
  • At the present time, the artifacts remain under the ownership of the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; however Parks Canada officials are currently in discussions with the Government of the United Kingdom over the transfer of the recovered artifacts under the joint-ownership of Canada and Inuit in Nunavut.
  • Parks Canada and the Kitikmeot Inuit Association continue to negotiate an Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement. During this time, the Franklin Interim Advisory Committee, who advises Parks Canada on the management of the Wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror National Historic Site, will continue to play a vital role in the management and planning of the site.
  • Through the negotiated Inuit Impact Benefit Agreement, Parks Canada will work with the Kitikmeot Inuit Association to ensure benefits to Inuit on the co-management of the Wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror National Historic Site.

Associated links

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Caitlin Workman
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Media Relations
Parks Canada

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