Parks Canada returns to the Franklin Expedition sites after a two-year postponement
Research plans include mapping and assessing the current site conditions of the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror wrecks
April 28, 2022 Gatineau, Quebec Parks Canada Agency
The discovery of the Franklin Expedition wrecks tells a compelling story about the past. Research and conservation work at the sites also help us understand the present day impacts of climate change on sensitive marine environments.
Today, Steven Guilbeault, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, announced that, following a two-year postponement due to pandemic precautions, Parks Canada’s Underwater Archaeology Team (UAT) will return to the Wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror National Historic Site to conduct important archaeological work related to the exploration and conservation of these fabled ships.
This month, the UAT travels to the wrecks where it will deploy its state-of-the-art remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to carry out under-the-ice inspections of the sites and the surrounding sea floor. The ROV dives will be carried out with the logistical support of Inuit Guardians, who help integrate Inuit knowledge into the protection and monitoring of site operations. Dives will record and map the sites and allow the archaeologists to assess the condition of the wrecks.
During a second expedition planned for later this summer, the UAT plans to undertake a series of dives at HMS Erebus to continue the exploration, documentation and excavation of the site. As well, the UAT expects to continue archaeological diving research at the wreck of HMS Terror, including additional interior ROV recording. Planned research will also be conducted in collaboration with the Inuit Guardians.
In supporting the 2022 research season, the Government of Canada is delivering on the second year of a four-year commitment made in Budget 2021 to accelerate archaeological and conservation work at the Franklin Expedition sites.
Parks Canada will share further information about the UAT’s summer research activities at the wreck sites as the 2022 season progresses and details are confirmed.
“The resumption of research at the sites of the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror represents an important opportunity to continue the investigation of the legendary Franklin story. Working together with our Inuit partners, this research will also further our understanding of how to protect these sites, and the precious environment in which they are located, against the impact of climate change. We all look forward to finding out what this year’s research will uncover.”
The Honourable Steven Guilbeault,
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada
“FIAC is pleased to hear that the work planned for this year by the Underwater Archaeology Team is going ahead. Due to COVID there has been no work performed at the site for the past two years. It will be important to see if any damage has occurred at Erebus as that wreck site is in relatively shallow waters. We are excited to see what Terror may be able to show us as that wreck site is in remarkable shape and this field season should allow the divers to have a better look as more time can be devoted once the moorings for the dive platform are set in place. The Underwater Archaeology Team plans to do this work with the local Guardians and their input will give the Inuit perspective to this scientific work and a first-hand opportunity to view the very things they are protecting.”
Chair, Franklin Interim Advisory Committee
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.
Budget 2021 provided $15 million over three years, starting in 2021-22, to support and accelerate archeological and conservation work of these sites of international importance.
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Parks Canada Agency
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