Proudly guarding the Erebus and Terror in the ‘place of bones’
After a local Canadian Forces Ranger pointed out where Franklin’s lost Arctic survey ship HMS Terror was last year, a group of 17 Inuit has been enlisted by Parks Canada to camp out in rotating four-person shifts to protect the historic site and that of Franklin’s other ship, HMS Erebus.
It’s a unique arrangement at this historic site — the first in Nunavut to be jointly managed by Parks Canada and Inuit — with the groups getting an equal say in how the site is managed and preserved in the years ahead.
This August, four Inuit guardians set up a base camp on Saunitalik Island — “place of bones” in Inuktitut — a five-kilometer-long sandy island a short Zodiac ride from the Erebus. A second group of guardians is camped near the Terror.
Along with keeping an eye out for polar bears while archeologists are at work, the guardians scan the horizon for unauthorized ships and the ground for artifacts. They call in any activity by satellite phone.