Ordfører Lene Conradis tale i Cambridge Bay, Canada, i anledning prosjektet Maud returns home.
Dear, Jeannie Ehaloak, all the people of this special place, and visitors on this special occasion,
I am truly touched and grateful to be here today. For nearly ninety years our communities have shared a special bond through the polar ship, Maud. This ship set out from home, my village Asker in Norway, almost exactly 100 years ago to explore and learn about the Arctic.
Roald Amundsen ceremonially christened the ship by crushing a chunk of ice against her bow, and said:
“It is not my intention to dishonor the glorious grape, but already now you shall get the taste of your real environment. For the ice you have been built, and in the ice you shall stay most of your life, and in the ice you shall solve your tasks. With the permission of our Queen, I christen you Maud.”
Thirteen years later, it found an abrupt end to its journey in this beautiful bay. Here the Maud has been preserved by the cold water. And the ice has surely been her fate.
I know Maud has been a landmark in your community for almost three generations, and that to see her leave, also leaves you with a sense of loss.
However, we still share the history of this little ship braving the Arctic waters. And for the better part of a century Cambridge Bay has been her home. Now she will return home to Asker, where it all started a hundred years ago.
And the story of Maud has caught the imagination of more than our two small communities. I know that the media in both countries have followed our little quest to bring Maud home.
I had the chance to read some of the Canadian news coverage of our sunken ship over the past years. CBC reported “Back at it again…Norwegians make another attempt at lifting the Maud”. Another headline stated: “A Norwegian artist wants to raise a storied ship using some really big balloons”… We may sound a little crazy …and definitely very stubborn!
Some may think – “why all this fuss over an old shipwreck”?
I will tell you. This ship is of great historical and cultural value. It symbolizes an era of exploration, the trade of ship-building – and not least, a period of Norwegian nation-building – of identity and belonging.
When Roald Amundsen started exploring the Arctic he was making headway through unchartered territories. As a man of great determination, maybe even greater curiosity, exploring the harsh northern waters came naturally to him. Here he met a land of awesome beauty, and people of integrity with great knowledge of the local conditions.
Amundsen may be best known for being the first to reach the South Pole in 1911. But his passion for the Arctic is as important as the Antarctic explorations.
Already in 1903-06, he and his crew were the first Europeans to sail through the Northwest Passage. On this expedition Amundsen spent almost two years with the Netsilik Inuit during what was intended to be a winter stopover. His time in what now is called Gjoa Haven, named after his first ship, and with the people there, equipped Amundsen with many of the skills that earned him a reputation as one of the most gifted polar explorers.
The link between the Norwegian explorers and the Inuit was part of their success in surviving the conditions of the north. Amundsen observed the expert ability of Inuit to survive in a severe climate, and devoted his time in Gjoa Haven to learning things like treating skins, building igloos and driving dog sleds.
Roald Amundsen came to love this part of the world. His life and actions are in honor of the people and nature of the Arctic. And he designed and had built a ship that would help us all gain more knowledge and understanding of the Arctic. This ship is the Maud. And being here today I can truly understand why Amundsen dedicated his life to the Arctic.
The Maud expedition started in 1918 and after sailing through the Northeast Passage, they suffered many setbacks and did not reach the North Pole as planned. Six years of continuous effort and bravery ended with financial troubles – and in 1925 the ship was sold to the Hudson Bay Company.
In the winter of 1926 she was frozen into the ice here at Cambridge Bay, where she sank in 1930.
But the Maud expedition was no failure. In fact it has left us with scientific data from the Arctic that has given the expedition status as one of the most important of its time.
Fram and Gjoa, the ships used during earlier Amundsen expeditions have both been preserved at the Norwegian Maritime Museum.
Maud has, as we all know, had a different fate. But now, Maud and the achievements from six years of scientific collection and analysis will have its own museum. And this important part of Arctic history and exploration will finally get the attention it deserves.
The Arctic research and respect for Arctic communities established by Amundsen and his team continues to this day. An important example is the Arctic Council and its working groups. A spirit of cooperation is necessary to protect the environment, livelihoods, culture and health of the people living here. The Arctic is vulnerable to modern-day issues of pollution and climate change, but may also hold key information for the future welfare of the entire planet.
I strongly believe that we are strengthening an old tradition of mutual respect when our communities, through this ship, share this historic moment of bringing her from her Arctic home – to her first home.
Thank you, Cambridge Bay, for providing Maud with a home for nearly a century.
I also want to thank the Tandberg brothers Company who made this moment possible, as well as the Maud returns Home project group and project leader, Jan Wangaard. Your idealism and commitment has stood firm through many years of effort, ups and downs – obstacles and victories. I speak on behalf of many when I voice our gratitude!
And thank you Canada for understanding the historic and cultural value she poses for Norway and the municipality of Asker. The permission to bring this polar ship home is invaluable to us. We believe that both the history of the ship – and the future of the ship – will strengthen the bonds between Canada and Norway – and the Arctic fellowship in particular.
And here we are. The Maud has surfaced, and we are starting the long float to Greenland. We have not finished yet – so far so good – but the journey home is still long – and obstacles may lie ahead.
We need to tap into the courage and bravery that the early explorers personified. Roald Amundsen once said that “Adventure is just bad planning” – I am therefore glad to know that the project of returning Maud to her home is well planned.
“Quana” Cambridge Bay! I have been told that this means “thanks” in the language of Cambridge Bay
Thank you all!
Finally, as Amundsen once crushed some ice against her bow, I would like to give Maud a symbolic blessing with water from its home town, and wish her a safe journey home!