An aerial shows the footprint of the test well drilled in the mid-1980s on land owned by the Kaktovik Native village corporation within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. (Michael Penn/Juneau Empire File)

Ottawa puts out statement opposing ANWR development

“Our rights, future and the land and animals cannot be bought yet others try to sell it”

The federal government has released a statement officially opposing development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

“We have long opposed industrial development in this region due to the potential impact to the Porcupine caribou herd and to Indigenous Peoples. We continue to have significant concerns, which we raised during the environmental review process,” said Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson in a release on Sept. 3.

“Canada has international agreements with the US for the management of Porcupine caribou, polar bears, and migratory birds, and we have repeatedly raised our concerns about the impacts of development on these species,” he said.

In the release, Wilkinson said his territorial counterpart, Environment Minister Pauline Frost, is convening a meeting of Indigenous and territorial leaders to “collectively discuss next steps” that the federal government will be involved in.

Frost is also a member of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, one of the groups that will be most impacted by any impact on the Porcupine caribou herd that uses the area as a calving ground.

“Our rights, future and the land and animals cannot be bought yet others try to sell it,” said Vuntut Gwitchin Chief Dana Tizya-Tramm after the Gwich’in Steering Committee and several environmental groups launched a lawsuit on Aug. 24.

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell was present at the downtown Whitehorse rally on Aug. 28, and said the defence of ANWR against development has been a drawn-out battle of many years.

Contact Haley Ritchie at


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