Ron Carlson Arctic Expeditions

Ron Carlson Arctic Expeditions
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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Received Personal Threats from head of CLEY, Doug Stenton

After my blog post referencing my low pass flight above a long ago previously discovered Franklin site, famously known to all as “Boat Place”, I was threatened in an email by D. Stenton who runs CLEY (Culture, Language, Elders and Youth) with arrest, fine and jail time.  In addition, it was also insinuated that I could be blocked from ever getting a future permit.

D. Stenton
The threatening email that I speak of was sent by Stenton’s assistant Julie Ross, but was most likely ghost written by him, as he made reference to me as “him” in third person, in the words she copied/pasted and wrote to me (see email thread link here).

Seriously now, does anyone now think that I could have ever received a permit from CLEY this year, let alone in the future?  I have now rationalized that even if I had, right here and now, ten world-acclaimed scientists, archeologists and paleontologists, the answer would be the same.  Even with all the other authorities and Hamlets approving my proposed work, this game is fixed.  I think the attitude is “If I can’t get it, nobody can”.

This is now at the ridiculous level.  So for those who care to read on, here are all the facts and details of how CLEY deals the cards from the bottom:

CLEY’s feedback to me has been almost nil in the last month or two.  No response to my queries on permit status.  As posted earlier, on June 14th they finally did send a cryptic note that told me that my permit approval was being stalled in so many words by the Gjoa Haven Mayor and Counsel (“waiting for Stakeholder’s response”).  We see now that this was a misrepresentation.  Also posted earlier, just hours after I emailed CLEY with the good news that Gjoa Haven was excited and supporting my cause and would be voting positively on it soon, I immediately received the one page rejection form letter.  (see CLEY emailthread here).  Obviously CLEY was hoping that they could use Gjoa Haven as a scapegoat.  At the time of the rejection, Gjoa Haven Counsel hadn’t even voted either way for my work.  It was still a full two weeks away.  So, just on my word, they immediately forwarded a rejection letter.  I guess it shows that the “Stakeholders” don’t really matter after all. 

So here is the sequence of what then went down on this matter –

After I received the denial letter, I responded positively in an email to CLEY indicating that I had guessed I was now technically a tourist and in honoring that, I would accordingly not use my equipment and/or not survey.  But thinking it would still be ok to fly over a known site or two and explore before I leave this place, I noted for confirmation.  (How did I assume that?  Because CLEY’s Julie Ross told me this in an email dated February 18, 2011, relating in that email to me that I was OK to have done that same thing when I was here last in 2003; that it was OK to look around.  And it was also OK that I documented the two graves that I observed and photographed back then, because I was classified as a “tourist”.)  

From that email Julie Ross (QUOTE) “…..Your 2003 activities now that they have been detailed were fine and would not have required a permit. This year you are not being a tourist you are looking for sites  :-)  ”  (UNQUOTE)

I mentioned my understanding in my note back to CLEY, to which I received:


A day later, wondering why no response, I emailed them again.  This time I asked if I could travel there to CLEY’s office in Igloolik personally, during that following week or two, on any day at their convenience, for a 30 minute debrief.  This, in order to better prepare for next year, to which I received:


One would think they didn’t care, or as it turns out they maybe didn’t have the respect to send a reply. Or it may have been on purpose, I do not know.  So I went out to see some sites.  Then I posted the part on the blog about “Boat Place”, to which I then I received: 


So of course I have complied with that email’s directive.  It would have been nice to have received some clarity ahead of time.  It is on record that I had asked.  But there was no answer to my query.  So, after this email was received, I immediately grounded myself and certainly have not attempted to fly to or near King William Island since.

Listen, I came up here out because of my passion for history and to try and help fill in a blank or two on the Franklin mystery, not to cause a big commotion.  I also wanted to help the people of Gjoa Haven in the process.  Canadian government funds had before been set aside for a national park and a road from Gjoa Haven to a yet to be determined region of King William Island.  The Hamlet’s leaders were undecided on where to put it all.  So in visiting them personally, we discussed a plan and agreement with the Hamlet that I could help in trying to find Franklin’s tomb for them, should it exist.  They would like to locate the park there.  This was hinted last year in my past discussions with the former Mayor, and this was my present discussions with Mayor Allan Aglukkaq.  It’s all positive stuff.

After considering the above communication sequence, it is plain to see now, taking into account the timing and content of these notes, that I was permit dead on the day on which I sent the application.  But of course, this ruling to deny my application was not before I was required to share my ideas in depth, my theories, equipment, detailed rational and lastly, the thermal camera manufacturer and specifications - for their benefit.  Then I was requested to submit a business type plan.  Interesting.

As it turned out, I had some correct intuition on all of this from the beginning.  It is why I came up here with my “boots on the ground”.  I met the people all around up here and was well received by same with open arms.  So in this effort I seem to have exposed the inner workings of one office of Canada’s government agencies – CLEY, and their perceived private ownership of Franklin.  Same happened to a Canadian team last year (see letter from ProCom here).

Perhaps some good will come out of it.  Maybe there will be closer scrutiny of CLEY’s motives and agenda.  Clearly there is an agenda.  Or maybe it is an order from higher officials in government above.

Although this has left me with a negative impression, it’s ok because this is a fruitful trip.  I stood out there on the land of King William Island.  I saw what it was like.  Taking everything into account, I’m happy with how it is going.

And as for projecting ahead for next year’s possibilities?   I would be excited to have a qualified team to go do the scanning and searching. And of course land the plane, look on the ground at the anomaly I saw and other new possible finds.  But I’m thinking that any permit attempt by me with any team is probably futile with the present CLEY administration.  Unless someone, some group or some movement changes the climate at that office.


  1. Thanks for letting us know that Stanton is a weasel.

  2. This is just, irrational...the restrictions are to begin with, idiotic, one could never photograph a thing in this region as Dr. Potter noted, and it is obvious that enterprise, courage, and sensitivity to the actually people on the ground count for nothing. The age of heroes may have included the foolhardy, the egotistical, and the chauvinists; but at least they accomplished something in the name of a greater good or gave their lives trying, unlike the bureaucratic nincompoops that have stopped your daring,thoughtful, and original attempt to expand human knowledge!

  3. Hello Ron,I have been following your Blog for a while now,Hats off to what you are doing,it must be so frustrating to hit a wall like that,put it this way if you are ever in my local the drinks are on the house. Bill

  4. Wow. For once I think the US would handle this better (although I have no actual substantive law and regulations around archeology here). Regulations that impose criminal liability and potential incarceration for regulations that can only be reasonably intended to protect sites from damage is absurd. In the US, there might even be a free speech issue since your status changed your ability to take photographs and thus your rights. Just sad that they have the gumption to think that a good-faith pursuit of knowledge with absolutely no damage to a site is worth of incarceration. (I sincerely hope this is a gross misrepresentation of the law, since I would be pretty disappointed in Canada for imposing that kind of liability for people who did not act for any personal benefit or cause any harm to the site.) And it's absurd that being a tourist means you can't look for sites, since that's part of how a tourist can help--by looking out for sites.

    Wow. I'm so sorry you're going through this and again, you're handling it amazingly well.

  5. Thanks all...your support is appreciated and certainly helps.

  6. I had an extensive interview on CBC this morning. We'll see where this all goes.

  7. Ron, has your interview been broadcast yet? Do you know what CBC show (radio, I presume) it was or might be used for?


  9. Incredibly short sighted if not improper behavior of Nunavut officials