Government of Canada and Inuit Heritage Trust Sign Franklin Artifact Memorandum of Understanding

News release

Jointly-owned artifacts from HMS Erebus and HMS Terror will be protected and shared for the benefit of Inuit and all Canadians

April 16, 2019                                     Ottawa, ON                      Parks Canada Agency

In 2018, the United Kingdom gifted Canada all of the remaining artifacts from HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, the ships of the 1845 Franklin Expedition. With this historic gift, Canada and the Inuit of Nunavut, through Parks Canada and the Inuit Heritage Trust, became joint owners of the artifacts from HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, following through on a government promise.

Today, 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 these important artifacts.

The artifacts from the Wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror National Historic Site will be protected based on Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (Inuit knowledge) and the principles of cultural resource management, including the highest standards of collection and conservation. The jointly-owned artifacts will be presented from an Inuit perspective and every effort will be made to display them within the Nunavut Settlement Area. In addition, museums and other cultural institutions will have opportunities to study and exhibit the artifacts on a temporary basis.

In September 2018, Parks Canada recovered the first jointly-owned artifacts from the wreck of HMS Erebus. These historic artifacts were shared with the communities of Gjoa Haven and Cambridge Bay shortly after they were recovered, before being transferred to Parks Canada’s lab in Ottawa to undergo conservation treatment and study.

With thousands of artifacts still to be recovered, the ongoing investigation of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror by Parks Canada in collaboration with Inuit is one of the largest and most complex underwater archaeological undertakings in Canadian history.

- 30 -


“Canada is very proud that the Franklin Expedition artifacts are jointly-owned with Inuit of Nunavut and we will continue to work with Inuit Heritage Trust to protect, study and share the stories of the historic treasures. This is an important step as we work together with Inuit to ensure that the story of the 1845 Franklin Expedition and other stories of the Northwest Passage continue to be told.”

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

“The Inuit Heritage Trust is pleased to work cooperatively with the Government of Canada to ensure the jointly-owned Franklin artifacts and the stories that surround them are protected and shared with Inuit, Canadians and people from around the world.  I’m very pleased that the Memorandum of Understanding ensures that Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit will be incorporated into our collaboration with Parks Canada on these important artifacts.”

Pamela Gross,
President, Inuit Heritage Trust

Quick facts

  • Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit combined with western science and the perseverance of a broad group of partners, led by Parks Canada and involving Inuit and the Government of Nunavut, resulted in the discovery of the wreck of HMS Erebus in 2014 and then HMS Terror in 2016.

  • The Franklin Interim Advisory Committee, comprised of community members and representatives from the Kitikmeot Inuit Association, Inuit Heritage Trust, Government of Nunavut, Parks Canada and the heritage and tourism industry, advises on the management of the Franklin wrecks until an Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement is finalized between Parks Canada and the Kitikmeot Inuit Association.

  • Under the 2018 transfer agreement, the United Kingdom retained the 65 artifacts previously recovered from HMS Erebus by Parks Canada’s Underwater Archaeology Team as a representative sample of their importance and symbolism.

  • 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 Franklin Interim Advisory Committee are working to develop visitor experience activities that support the long-term protection of both wreck sites.

Related products

Associated links


Sabrina Kim
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Media Relations
Parks Canada Agency

William Beveridge
Inuit Heritage Trust

Page details

Date modified: