Thursday, July 14, 2011

Nunavut defends rejecting Franklin search bid [Updated]


The Nunavut Department of Culture, Language, Elders and Youth (CLEY) has come out to defend its decision to reject Ron Carlson's application for a permit search for Franklin sites from his airplane.

I remain quite unconvinced.

Doug Stenton, the department's heritage director, and the bureaucrat specifically highlighted in particular by Carlson on his blog because of the personal jail-time threats, is quoted as saying: "We feel for that reason that it's very important that these sites are investigated by individuals who have the proper experience, the proper qualifications, training. I can't think of any reason why a well-resourced, competent, professional team wouldn't get a permit."

Excuse me, but... baloney.

If that is the case then:
  • Why was the Procom expedition not approved two years ago? They had more than adequate resources, experience and professional qualifications and training. They are one of the leading underwater search experts.

  • Why was Carlson only rejected once he got there? They had nearly a year to determine whether he had the qualifications or not. Carlson was well qualified for what he was planning to do. In both cases, well-resourced, competent and professional teams were trying to advance knowledge at their own expense, for the benefit of all, agreed to provide Nunavut/Canada with all of their research and to keep it from the public so it was not misused. Each had long pedigrees of showing respect for archeological sites.

  • Why was Carlson rejected after the Inuit community actually on King William Island had approved his plans?

  • Once Carlson's permit was rejected, why threaten him with jail time for merely flying over King William Island, something CLEY had permitted him to do a few seasons ago and something they only have questionable authority to do (for just a fly-over and photography)?

  • [Update]As noted in the comments, David C. Woodman was also rejected by CLEY despite being one of the leading experts with more than adequate search history and credentials. Really makes you think something else is going on here.


  • I am somewhat grateful for CLEY coming forward instead of hiding behind a great wall of bureaucracy. And I completely understand and share the concerns they have about tourists and greedy excavators.

    But why pretend to offer permits if they are not going to be issued? They should at least clarify what the criteria are because, even according to their own criteria as stated, it seems they are rejecting fully competent expeditions.

    I completely agree with McGoogan on this. There ought to be some way to find a compromise. Most of the great advances in Franklin research has come from private enthusiasts like Robert Rondeau and Ron Carlson. Their spark and curiosity has not only resulted in most of the "finds" but also in the sense of importance of this archeology and the need to protect it, not to mention the expeditions now being conducted by Parks Canada itself.

    Nunavut defends rejecting Franklin search bid
    CBC News Posted: Jul 13, 2011 3:50 PM CT Last Updated: Jul 13, 2011 3:50 PM CT

    Nunavut government officials are defending their decision not to give a Chicago man an archeological permit to search for Sir John Franklin's grave in the Arctic.

    Nunavut heritage director Doug Stenton says the territory is not overly trying to protect high-profile undiscovered archeological sites. CBC
    Ron Carlson, a Chicago-based architect, pilot and Franklin history buff, had wanted to fly over King William Island with his DeHavilland Beaver aircraft and use thermal imaging equipment to look for the British explorer's grave.

    But Carlson told CBC News this week that his application for a territorial archeological permit was rejected just as he had arrived in Nunavut late last month.

    The territory's Department of Culture, Language, Elders and Youth, which is responsible for issuing the permit, ruled that Carlson was not qualified.

    Doug Stenton, the department's heritage director, said many people want their name associated with Franklin, whose doomed 1845 voyage and disappearance in the Northwest Passage has fascinated historians for almost 170 years.

    "We feel for that reason that it's very important that these sites are investigated by individuals who have the proper experience, the proper qualifications, training," Stenton told CBC News on Tuesday.

    Nunavut is home to about 12,000 known archeological sites, and Stenton said his department needs to ensure the people who study those sites have the expertise and tools required to do the job.

    Skulls of members of the Franklin expedition were discovered by William Skinner and Paddy Gibson in 1945 at King William Island in Nunavut. National Archives of Canada/Canadian Press
    "We take that responsibility very seriously, and we review and consider every application on its own merits," Stenton said.

    Carlson is not the only potential Franklin searcher to have been denied a territorial permit. In 2009, Stenton's department rejected a private group's application to locate Franklin's lost ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror.

    Nunavut has supported the Canadian government's expeditions to locate Franklin's ships. Archeologists with Parks Canada are set to search in an area west of King William Island next month.

    Carlson said he feels the Nunavut government never seriously considered his application and is intentionally blocking private searchers from accessing Franklin sites.

    But Stenton insisted that it's not a case of overly protecting high-profile undiscovered archeological sites.

    "I can't think of any reason why a well-resourced, competent, professional team wouldn't get a permit," he said.

    Author and historian Ken McGoogan, who has written four books on Arctic exploration, said he does not think there was any conspiracy on the Nunavut government's part to keep Franklin searchers out.

    "I am torn with regard to the story of Carlson," McGoogan said.

    "Obviously, the government has a major role to play in making sure the sights are undisturbed. But he was only going to be flying over, so I think a compromise could have been worked out."

    2 comments:

    defending permits said...

    I put my 2 cents to CLEy and the government of canada.
    The local governing community of Gjoa Haven was in support of Carlsons expedition with the help of the Inuit family Porter's from Gjoa Haven,
    Why was it not approved by the territorial government,, Will I'll put my 2 cents to this comment,
    I figure they wanted to find Sir john Franklin themselves, Thats what I think,,

    As will why is it so hard to say no to Ron Carlson when an Inuk family was willing to help the research take place this summer 2011. An inuk family locally well known and well respected family.

    Maybe because they did not want to approve the search because we may have something that is so valuble to them. We have so much more knowlegde then everyone else thinks too. ,, Its not just LOUIE KAMOOKAK who thinks he is the only Inuk expert on traditional knowledge and know how of the fatal Sir John Frankln expedition that ended in 129 men dieing on and near KIng William Island.

    Maybe the government wants it for themselves because this is considered the holy of holy arctic expeditions that no one has ever solved. and want most.

    What well they give in reward say if Louie Kamookak is still trying to help the territorial and federal government in finding any, And I mean anything that relates to Sir John Franklin and its ships. Will they give him the 20,000.00 pounds,, Today the 20,000.00 is worth over 1.5 million dollars to anyone if thats the reward that the UK is still looking at giving to anyone finding Sir John Franklin or his 2 ships.. Probably not

    We want to help the community and the community alone, The expeditions have been taking palce on our land the land the island we live in and No one has every told the government that there should be a set regulation for expeditions on this island and near my mainland, But again the government of Canada and the nunavut government well never do that.

    We have been taken avantage of every since Sir John lost his life with the other 128 men near and on this island. No one has ever given any credit to the people of this Island and the people who helped in the pass. What reward have they given for any relics that were ever found since all the expeditions from the 1850's to present day.. NO REWARDS Were or will ever be given to an inuk, Thats what I think

    We shouldn't have to ask the government as Inuit to do any search on our own land,, THE land that we live on and have lived on since we can remember. Are we given credit for helping southerns for any search. What reward,, is it 1000.00 dollars is it 5000.00 for those how have helped find some relics that have been collected and sent to the UK. NO<< NO NO,, why because we are nothing to them,, INUIT
    don't matter to them. But then again its still going on.. We do not count as inuit who wish to do their own search by other expedition searchers.

    The government wants it for them selves thats why..
    Will LOUIE Kamookak be given a very big reward for what he has been giving as a kowledgable franklin researcher,, Probaly not..

    defending permits said...

    Sorry about how I feel about the government, But that's how we feel towards them most times, What is our great leaders doing in helping Inuit wanting to do their own search for Legendary SIR JOHN.. Why can't we do it on our own as first people of this great land we live on, Well.,,,, because the government will send us to jail,, A very good threat told to the person whom wanted our help. An inuk family welling to help and wasn't told we could do these searches.
    What were we going to do,, destroy, scare away animals with a little plane. What are the planes doing then, helicopters that fly in and out of many exploration mining camps, They fly everyday, some so low that they scare the animals everyday at those exploration camps,, What are the TERRITORIAL GOVERNMENTs doing about that. If we are being told that regulations about flying low or flying around migratory birds are.
    Are they telling those companies not to to that, because they are scaring the animals and wildlife everyday by flying around the wilderness where mammals and flying birds are. NOTHING<<< they can can have those helicopters fly so low and planes too at mining camps, why aren't they being charged for scaring the animals