North

Amundsen honoured in Gjoa Haven

Residents of Gjoa Haven, Nunavut, held a special flag-raising ceremony with Norwegian officials this week to honour polar explorer Roald Amundsen.

Nunavut hamlet hosted Norwegian explorer in early 1900s

Residents of Gjoa Haven, Nunavut, held a special flag-raising ceremony with Norwegian officials this week to honour Roald Amundsen, who spent two years in the community during his famed quest through the Northwest Passage.

The Norwegian ambassador attended Monday's ceremony, in which the Canadian and Norwegian flags were raised near the Amundsen Centenary Cairn in Gjoa Haven. Also in attendance was Gier Klover, the director of the Fram Museum in Oslo, Norway.

"I've been interested in polar histories since I was a kid, so Gjoa Haven, that's the place I've read about for 30 years," Klover told CBC News on Tuesday.

"Just to be here, and the incredible friendliness and hospitality of the community, is very touching."

Klover said his museum is dedicated to polar explorers like Amundsen, who set sail for the Northwest Passage in 1903 in his ship, Gjoa. The museum is building an extension to house the Gjoa, he added.

Amundsen spent two winters near King William Island, in what is now Gjoa Haven, learning from local Inuit as he prepared for his expedition.

"He perfected the skills, making him the ultimate polar explorer," Klover said.

"He had huge respect for local learnings and local knowledge, and he spent every day trying to learn as much as possible there, as opposed to many other explorers."

Amundsen made history when he completed the east-to-west voyage across the passage in 1906.

Klover said Monday's ceremony commemorates the growing partnership between his museum and the community of Gjoa Haven. He said he brought some photographs that were taken by Amundsen, as a gift to the community.

"We are very proud to say that we were involved in the history of the Northwest Passage," Gjoa Haven Mayor Joanni Sallerina said.

"Working with Oslo, Norway, they are putting us more on the global map," he added.

Sallerina said a group of Gjoa Haven residents will travel to Oslo next year to visit the museum.

The community is also working with the museum to repatriate about 800 Inuit artifacts that Amundsen had gathered, Sallerina added.

now