Inuit Heritage Trust and Parks Canada ink deal on fate of Franklin artifacts

The ship's bell from the recently discovered Franklin Expedition shipwreck HMS Erebus sits in pure water after being recovered in Ottawa on November 6, 2014. Parks Canada and the Inuit Heritage Trust have come to an agreement on how the artifacts from the ill-fated Franklin expedition will be preserved and studied. The agreement requires that artifacts from the wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror will be protected based on traditional Inuit knowledge, or Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, and presented publicly from an Inuit perspective. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

OTTAWA - Parks Canada and the Inuit Heritage Trust have come to an agreement on how the artifacts from the ill-fated Franklin expedition will be preserved and studied.

All artifacts from the wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror will be protected based on traditional Inuit knowledge and presented publicly from an Inuit perspective.

Every effort will be made to have the artifacts displayed in Nunavut under the agreement signed Monday.

Any museums or cultural institutions that want to study or exhibit the artifacts plucked from the sunken shipwrecks will only be able to do so on a temporary basis.

Sir John Franklin and 129 men left England on the two ships in 1845 on a search for a northern passage connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

The ships, however, became ice-bound and were abandoned by the crew, none of whom returned to England.

The final resting place of both ships and the full story of what happened to them was one of the world's most enduring mysteries. Canada launched a new effort to locate the ships in 2007.

Inuit guides helped Parks Canada officials find the Erebus in shallow waters off the coast of King William Island in 2014. The Terror was found two years later about 100 kilometres away.

The two ships make up a massive and complex underwater archeological site that still contains thousands of artifacts, which the United Kingdom gifted to Canada last year.

Parks Canada and the Inuit Heritage Trust became joint owners of the artifacts.

Sixty-five artifacts already recovered from Erebus — including parts of clothing, boots, plates and the ship's bell — remain British property.

Last September, the first of the jointly-owned artifacts were recovered from the Erebus.

Archaeologists hope to find artifacts on the ships which can help explain what happened to the ill-fated expedition.

The two shipwrecks are national historic sites that are off-limits to the public.

Long-term plans call for Inuit Guardians to host visitors at the wreck sites to share the Franklin story and Inuit culture.


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