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    Another Franklin expedition

    Herb Mathisen
    Northern News Services
    Published Monday, August 18, 2008

    NUNAVUT - It has been more than 160 years since British explorer Sir John Franklin embarked on his ill-fated quest to discover the Northwest Passage.

    His ships, the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, and both crews never returned.

    On Friday, federal environment minister John Baird, officially announced the launch of a new, expansive search for the long-lost vessels.

    From mid-August to late-September over the next three years, Parks Canada's Underwater Archaeology Service will search High Arctic waters from the CCGS Sir Wilfred Laurier, a Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker, for the two British ships believed to have been trapped in ice somewhere off King William Island in 1847.

    "The Franklin Expedition is a key part of Canada's history of Arctic exploration," Baird said in a press release.

    "An actual discovery of these wrecks would offer unprecedented information on the exploration of Canada's North and the discovery of the Northwest Passage - a critical piece of our shared history and important to present and future generations."

    Relics from the expedition and the graves of two crew members have been discovered over the years, but the ships remain missing.

    The oral history passed on by Inuit elders was cited as helping to piece together new ideas of where these vessels may be.

    "This expedition will be using both Inuit oral history and technology to search for the shipwrecks," said Nunavut minister of Culture, Language, Elders and Youth Louis Tapardjuk.

    "We acknowledged the importance and the contribution of Inuit oral history to this work. We support the work which will be completed during this expedition and encourage new research materials to be shared with Nunavummiut for further understanding of our history."

    Robert Grenier, Parks Canada's senior underwater archaeologist will head the search. Louie Kamookak, a historian, hunter and researcher from Gjoa Haven, will also be part of the expedition. He was in Ottawa for the press conference.

    "The search area falls within uncharted waters and (the Department of Fisheries and Oceans) DFO's Canadian Hydrographic Service will provide surveying expertise and technology to help map the area of interest and nearby routes for navigational charts," said federal minister of fisheries and oceans Loyola Hearn in the release.

    The search was scheduled to get underway today, Aug. 18.