Gjoa Haven, Nunavut, is marking the finding of the two ships lost in Sir John Franklin's ill-fated expedition through the Northwest Passage with a week-long community celebration.
The festival of the discovery of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror begins with a community feast Saturday during the Gjoa Haven Umiyaqtutt Festival. Activities commemorating the finds and celebrating Inuit oral history will continue throughout the week.
"The ships have been searched for, for so many years and the credit is going back to our ancestors, our people's oral history and Inuit knowledge," explained Louie Kamookak, an Inuk oral historian who helped discover HMS Erebus in 2014.
"It's very important for the community to feel they are a part of finding it," Kamookak said.
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The festival will include a ceremony unveiling a plaque commemorating the finds, an art competition, daily games, and storytelling. Special guests from the marine archeological team as well as cruise ship passengers are expected to attend.
Parks Canada, the Hamlet of Gjoa Haven and the Government of Nunavut are collaborating on the festival with the theme "Encounters along the Northwest Passage."
During the event, Kamookak will be presenting on the role Inuit oral history and local knowledge played in the search for the ships.
Both disappeared after they became locked in ice in 1846 and were missing for more than a century-and-a-half before the recent finds.
A team of public-private searchers led by Parks Canada discovered HMS Erebus in September 2014.
Researchers found HMS Terror in Terror Bay last year, after Gjoa Haven's Sammy Kogvik led them to the site he'd first discovered six years earlier.
Inuit oral history was proven correct in both instances, with several stories detailing the time Franklin's ships became locked in the ice, Kamookak said.
"There's an Inuit oral history from the time Franklin's men were here," Kamookak said. "It was a bad time. There was a lot of ice not leaving, it was also a bad time for the Inuit."
Kamookak says he hopes the two ships will stay in the North and become a tourist opportunity for the communities where the ships sank.