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Parks Canada announces money for Franklin ship visitor centre in Nunavut

Parks Canada announced $16.9 million over five years in funding Thursday for the investigation into Franklin expedition ships and for a visitor and field research centre in Gjoa Haven, Nunavut.

$16.9M over 5 years to go to Erebus and Terror investigation, facility in Gjoa Haven

Marc-André Bernier, Parks Canada's manager of underwater archelogy, sets a marine biology sampling quadrat on the port side hull of HMS Erebus in 2014. (Parks Canada)

Parks Canada announced $16.9 million over five years in funding Thursday for the investigation into Franklin expedition ships and for a visitor and field research centre in Gjoa Haven, Nunavut.

In a news release, Parks Canada said the facility in Gjoa Haven will support the conservation, research and presentation of the Franklin Expedition's history and artifacts.

Two ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, were part of Sir John Franklin's doomed expedition in 1845 to find the Northwest Passage from the Atlantic Ocean to Asia. A Parks Canada team found the HMS Erebus in 2014 in the Victoria Strait off King William Island.

Parks Canada says it will work with the Kitikmeot Inuit Association to negotiate an Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement as required under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, and that The Wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror National Historic Site will be the first co-operatively-managed national historic site in Nunavut.

"Incorporation of Inuit knowledge was important for the discovery of HMS Erebus and the Kitikmeot Inuit Association is confident that the collaboration between Inuit, associated communities, government, and tourism organizations will lead to appropriate development and ongoing management of The Wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror National Historic Site into the future," said Stanley Anablak, president of the Kitikmeot Inuit Association, in a news release.

An Interim Advisory Committee that includes members from the Kitikmeot Inuit Association, the Government of Nunavut, Inuit Heritage Trust and Nunavut Tourism will advise Parks Canada on the management of the national historic site until the Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement is finalized.

Parks Canada said the infrastructure in Gjoa Haven may include a visitor centre, conservation labs, administrative offices, and staff housing.

Conservative MP candidate Leona Aglukkaq prior to the federal election last fall had pledged $16 million over five years for a "Franklin Centre" in Gjoa Haven, an announcement which took some Nunavut heritage organizations by surprise.

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