In 2017, acting upon a recommendation from the Franklin Interim Advisory Committee, Parks Canada worked together with Inuit from Gjoa Haven to develop and implement the Erebus and Terror Guardian Program Pilot Project to provide site protection and presentation while promoting Inuit culture. FIAC proposed that a camp be established near each of the two wreck sites where Inuit can undertake traditional activities, provide site protection and monitoring, and present the Franklin story. Inspired by existing Parks Canada Guardian and Watchman programs, this program was seen to have the potential to bring numerous benefits to Inuit while contributing to shared Inuit and Government of Canada priorities.
In 2017 the Inuit Guardian Pilot Project was planned and delivered collaboratively by Parks Canada, the Gjoa Haven Hunters and Trappers Association (HTA) and the Guardians themselves in a manner that demonstrated exceptional cooperative site management. The Pilot Project consisted of a short pilot trip, a training program, and teams of Guardians at each of the two wreck sites for a total of 48 days (32 at Terror and 16 at Erebus) between August 26 and September 30, 2017. The Guardians were prepared for the first ever visit by cruise ship visitors to the Erebus wreck site; however, poor weather led to the cancellation of this visit. Significant benefits, both monetary and cultural, were seen by the Guardians. At the end of the Guardian season, feedback sessions were held with the Guardians as well as others who were involved. All involved felt that the program was positive and successful overall, and recommendations included that it should be expanded in 2018 and should build on the lessons learned.
In 2018 the Inuit Guardian Program built upon the recommendations received from the previous year. The 2018 season consisted of over 2 weeks of training and a cumulative of 62 days in the field. The field season consisted of a 3 day field trip, 29 days to the Erebus wreck site spread throughout 4 trips, and 33 days at the Terror wreck site spread throughout 4 trips. The Guardians again prepared for another attempt for the first ever visit by cruise ship visitors, however poor weather continued to cancel this visitation. At the end of the 2018 Guardian season, feedback sessions were again held with Guardians and other participants.
In 2019 the Inuit Guardian Program will build on the Pilot Projects by implementing recommendations from 2017 and 2018 field trips, including establishing temporary camps at the two locations identified in 2018 to determine their suitability as locations for permanent camps, monitoring each wreck site area in accordance with the established monitoring protocol, and welcoming visitors to the Erebus Guardian camps as part of the Adventure Canada visit (details of which have been submitted separately). The Gjoa Haven Hunters and Trappers Association, in close collaboration with Parks Canada who is providing the funding, will be responsible for the overall management of the Guardian Program.
The objective of this project is to implement the third year of the Wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror Inuit Guardian program in order to contribute to protection and presentation of the WET NHS and to inform future site management while enabling Inuit to undertake traditional land-based activities and knowledge-sharing.
Many of the activities have been addressed in the 2017 NIRB Application for Screening #125166: Visitor experience at the Erebus Wreck Site, NIRB Project File #15YN037 HMS Erebus Wreck Site Archeological Investigation and NIRB Project File #148878 HMS Erebus and HMS Terror Inuit Guardian Program (Wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror NHS.
Activities will include:
-Establishing a temporary camp near each of the Erebus and Terror wreck sites.
-Monitoring the Erebus and Terror wreck sites from land and water, including on foot, by all-terrain vehicle and small motorized and non-motorized vessel (including but not limited to: dingy, life boat, motor yacht, inflatable, cuddy boat, etc) to the WET NHS (Erebus and Terror wreck site)..
-Recording and reporting observations including weather, wildlife and archeological resources.
-Undertaking traditional land-based activities such as traditional harvesting and knowledge sharing between Inuit Elders, adults and youth.
-Up to two visits by Adventure Canada Cruise Ship visitors to Guardian Camp and Davit Island (details of Adventure Canada visit in separate submission Visitor Experience at the Erebus Wrecks Site (Wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror NHS submitted by project lead Phil McComiskey)
The NEW ELEMENTS from what was screened in 2017 are the following:
-Establishment of temporary trial Guardian camp at Terror Bay for team of Inuit Guardians
-Delivery of Guardian program at Terror Bay, involving teams of 4 Guardians at a time
-Longer season – a total of 51 days at each camp, up from approximately 10 days in 2017
-Different Guardian camp location at Erebus – Location C (Hattuq Island) rather than Location A (Davit Island)
Inuit have requested permanent structures at each Base Camp. Although this will not occur in 2019 the Guardian experiences at the temporary camps will inform the location and design of the permanent base camps. When the permanent base camps are planned, a new project description will be submitted.