The U.K. government has announced it will gift two recently-found wrecks from the historic Franklin expedition to Canada, while holding back a small sample of artifacts for its own museums.
It was in 1845 that Rear-Admiral Sir John Franklin set sail from England to try to chart the Northwest Passage through the Canadian Arctic with two ships, the HMS Erebus and the HMS Terror. While trying to navigate from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, the ships became stuck in ice off King William Island.
Wrecks found with Indigenous know-how, technology
The crews decided to abandon the ships and try to trek overland to the south. No one survived. Many attempts were made to find the wrecks of the two ships but it took Indigenous know-how and improved technology to finally find them in 2014 and 2016.
The transfer of ownership is expected in the coming weeks.
It will not be all smooth sailing though. CBC reports that the Inuit have asked the Canadian government to recognize their ownership rights over the wrecks under a 1993 land-claims agreement that gives these Indigenous people joint ownership with Canada of any archaeological finds.