An initiative to send two Indigenous artists to the Titanic site is aiming to help commemorate the site and raise interest among Indigenous people in maritime careers.
“It’s very important that the expedition captures the last days of the Titanic as it slowly dissipates,” said Shayne McDonald, director of Miawpukek Horizon Maritime Services, a joint business venture between Miawpukek First Nation and Horizon Maritime Services that offers marine services like tugboats and subsea cable repair and maintenance.
“It’s a unique story in history, and as we keep it alive, we keep alive the stories of the individuals that died on the voyage.”
More than 1,500 people died when the passenger ship sank off the coast of Newfoundland in 1912. The wreckage was discovered in 1985 but over time the sunken ship is eroding.
The artist residency project is a partnership between Miawpukek Horizon Maritime Services and OceanGate, a submersible charter company that offers expeditions to the Titanic site.
McDonald, a band councillor with Miawpukek First Nation, a Mi’kmaw community in Newfoundland 553 kilometres west of St. John’s, will work with the community’s chief, Mi’sel Joe, to help ensure the artists are connected to an Indigenous community.
The artists will join an eight-day expedition this summer from St. John’s to the Titanic site, about 750 kilometres off the coast, and are to create an artwork based from the journey.
McDonald said he thinks it will be great for the artists to be exposed to the marine research.
“We’re quite excited for the project and quite excited that it offers up opportunities for Indigenous artists,” said McDonald.
Jasmine Saunders, business manager for Miawpukek Horizon Maritime Services, said the project is another opportunity for the company to engage with Indigenous people.
“It’s something that is really rewarding, to provide these opportunities where they might not have had the chance otherwise,” said Saunders.
She said she hopes programs like this introduce Indigenous people to maritime careers.