Here I stand on King William Island in August, 1999. Matheson Point. Behind me is Rae Strait. Three of us were about to cross that strait -- Louie Kamookak, Cameron Treleaven, and I -- to see if we could find a cairn built in 1854 on Canada’s Arctic coast. We were bent on honoring the three men who had put it there: an Orcadian Scot (John Rae), an Inuk (William Ouligbuck), and an Ojibway (Thomas Mistegan).
Together, these three had marked a location overlooking the final link (Rae Strait) in what would prove to be the first navigable Northwest Passage. Is that a Canadian moment or what? To me it symbolizes achievement and points to reconciliation. As it happens, that moment -- which finds "white" and indigenous succeeding together -- is at the heart of Dead Reckoning: The Untold Story of the Northwest Passage.
The book recognizes the contributions to Arctic exploration of the Dene, the Ojibway, the Cree and, above all, the Inuit, without whom John Franklin’s ships, Erebus and Terror, would still be lying undiscovered at the bottom of the Polar Sea. Slated to appear fromHarperCollins Canada in September, the work encompasses both naval and fur-trade explorers, but also such figures as Thanadelthur, Akaitcho, Tattanoeuck, John Sacheuse, Ebierbing, Hans Hendrik, Tulugaq, and Tookoolito.
Louie Kamookak is the latest to join that sterling list. Those of us sailing Out of the Northwest Passage with Adventure Canada this September are thrilled that, circumstances permitting, Louie will join us in visiting the site of the Erebus. So, yes, autumn will find me still celebrating reconciliation with furious passion. Shall we start on Canada Day? Why not? Let the party begin!