Louie Kamookak is an Inuit historian whose years of dedicated research helped find the lost Erebus ship. He was awarded an Erebus medal byThe Royal Canadian Geographical Societyat a recent reception at the Royal Ontario Museum. Here are his thoughts from the evening.
I am honoured and grateful to be able to be here in Toronto. Coming from the Arctic and arriving in a big city is like a dream — just like the dream we had before Parks Canada decided to launch another search, based on both Inuit knowledge passed down through oral tradition and on state-of-the-art technology, of solving one of the world's great mysteries: the fate of Franklin's ships. It is a dream that came true for all us us when the announcement was made to the world of the finding of the famous Erebus. We are all working together to put the puzzle pieces in their right places. It is because of this cooperation that our dream is finally being realized. When it came to living in one of the most hostile parts of the world, my ancestors were able to survive only by working together. I am happy to see that, in this way, we are following in their footsteps.
For the past three decades, my work has been collecting our ancestors' oral history, traditional place names, the Inuit groups before Europeans came, and studying the journals of the people who came to our land in search of the lost expedition. This work has been my part, my contribution to the puzzle. From day one I have been curious about what happened to those ships. I had my theories, my ideas of what might have happened. So I am very happy to have been a part, and to know that I was on the right track. But it was only through the hard work of the people at Parks Canada that it was made possible.
I always joke that it was impossible for me to just go out in my kayak and stick my head into the ocean to find it myself. So I was a little surprised to learn that I was wrong. It was only 33 feet deep where Erebus was found... But there is still the Terror.
Thanks to the Royal Canadian Geographical Society for the invitation and the award and to everyone involved. I am very thankful and hope to get back to solving where Franklin himself is and bring him home.