Parks Canada announces contract to Know History for Franklin Expedition Inuit Oral History Project
Project will increase awareness of Inuit interaction with 1845 expedition
June 13, 2018 Gjoa Haven, Nunavut Parks Canada Agency
The locations of the Franklin Expedition vessels were a mystery for over 150 years, after Sir John Franklin and his crew went missing while searching for a Northwest Passage. Over time, Inuit traditional knowledge (Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit) combined with modern technology, led to the discovery of the wreck sites of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror. Now, over 150 years since the vessels settled on the ocean floor, there is still much to learn from the story of these shipwrecks.
Today, Catherine McKenna, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, and the Franklin Interim Advisory Committee are pleased to announce that – following a competitive process – a contract has been awarded to gather Inuit oral histories surrounding the 1845 Franklin Expedition.
The contract was awarded to Know History and its partners, NVision Insight Group Inc. and Konek Productions,
The Franklin Expedition Inuit Oral History Project will increase awareness of the contributions of Inuit to the discovery of the wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, and further document Inuit interactions with Sir John Franklin and his crew. Inuit will be key participants in the planning and delivery of this project, which will include Inuit youth and elders.
Material shared by Inuit knowledge holders through this project will be included in a book, and will also contribute to content for future exhibits at the Nattillik Heritage Centre in Gjoa Haven and on Parks Canada’s and the Kitikmeot Inuit Association’s websites. Other research materials such as video, audio recordings, interview transcripts and the book manuscript, will be shared by Inuit and Parks Canada through the exhibits at the Nattillik Heritage Centre and the websites.
Know History will be assisted by the former Commissioner of Nunavut, Edna Elias, who will serve as the team’s lead interviewer and translator. Know History and its partners will work closely with the Nattilik Heritage Centre in Gjoa Haven, the Franklin Interim Advisory Committee, and Parks Canada throughout the project’s duration. The project’s proposed completion date is December 2019.
Parks Canada is also working with the Franklin Interim Advisory Committee to develop an Inuit Guardians Program for the two vessels. Guardians will be posted at both wreck sites throughout the open-water period to monitor the sites, report any unauthorized vessel traffic, and help Parks Canada ensure the protection of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror.
“Working collaboratively with Inuit, Parks Canada is continuing to share the fascinating and expanding story of the Franklin Expedition with Canadians and the world. Over a hundred years after the Erebus and Terror settled on the Arctic Ocean floor, The Franklin Expedition Inuit Oral History Project will help us better understand the incredible role of Inuit in the discovery of the Franklin wrecks. I wish Know History and their partners every success as they research and document this priceless Inuit Oral history.”
The Honourable Catherine McKenna,
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada
“The Franklin Interim Advisory Committee is delighted that the project proposed by late member, distinguished historian Louie Kamookak, will be undertaken by Know History. We are also pleased that the project will involve many Inuit in its planning and delivery, and we look forward to providing our advice and guidance as the project proceeds.”
Chair, Franklin Interim Advisory Committee
“Know History is honoured to be part of the team that will collect, document, and present the Inuit oral history related to the Franklin Expedition. With our partners, NVision Insight Group and Konek Productions, we are dedicated to ensuring the community has the opportunity to share with the rest of the world their history and understanding of this important part of Canada’s past. We are exceptionally fortunate to have Edna Elias leading the interviews, which will allow Inuit to tell their history in their language.”
Director, Know History
Parks Canada recognizes the invaluable contributions to our understanding of the Franklin Expedition made by the late Louie Kamookak, who passed away in March and to whom this project is dedicated. A recipient of both the Order of Canada and the Order of Nunavut, Kamookak tirelessly collected Inuit knowledge across Nunavut, and his lifelong passion investigating the fate of Franklin and his crew directly contributed to the discovery of both wrecks.
The Franklin Interim Advisory Committee, comprising Inuit members and representatives from the Government of Nunavut and the tourism industry, advises on the management of the wrecks until an Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement is finalized between Parks Canada and the Kitikmeot Inuit Association.
On the recommendation of the Franklin Interim Advisory Committee, Parks Canada issued a request for proposals in February 2018 to seek a contractor to work collaboratively with Inuit-knowledge holders, community members, and Parks Canada experts to gather existing oral histories related to the 1845 Franklin Expedition.
Know History was founded in 2011 and has managed close to 200 content-driven projects across Canada, including multiple projects involving oral history research. NVision Insight Group Inc. is an Indigenous consulting firm with offices in Ottawa, Ontario and Iqaluit, Nunavut. Konek Productions is an Inuit-owned production company based in Iqaluit, Nunavut.
The United Kingdom made a gift to Canada of the wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, along with all yet to be discovered artifacts.
Sixty-five artifacts that have already been removed from the HMS Erebus by Parks Canada will stay in the United Kingdom as a representative sample.
In the Arctic, climate change is having a tangible, negative effect on Inuit culture. Rapidly melting sea ice is affecting access to hunting grounds and is altering migration patterns of animals central to Inuit life. Eventually, the Guardians Program will play a key role in hosting visitors to the wreck sites to not only share the Franklin story, but to tell stories of the land and Inuit culture. Their observations and the stories they share will no doubt provide first-hand accounts of the impacts of climate change that they are seeing.
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Parks Canada Agency
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