A delegation from Yukon and Alaska is in Washington D.C., this week, trying to convince U.S. politicians to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil and gas drilling.

The refuge, on Alaska's remote north slope, is home to polar bears, muskoxen and migratory birds, and it's the calving grounds of the vast Porcupine caribou herd.

The area is also rich in untapped oil. 

Lorraine Netro

Lorraine Netro of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation. (Cheryl Kawaja/CBC)

Lorraine Netro has travelled to Washington many times over the years to speak on behalf of the Vuntut Gwitchin. The First Nation is one of the groups that rely on the Porcupine caribou for food.

On this trip, Netro and the delegation are trying to influence decision makers not to support a budget proposal that would start the process for drilling in the refuge.

Netro says she's meeting with a different politician in the U.S. capital every hour, telling them about her way of life.

"It's educating them about who we are as a people, and why this issue is so very important. Our livelihood hangs in the balance in the decisions that are being made. And it reaches them, and it touches them.

"It really makes a difference for them to put a face to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge that they've heard about." 

The northern delegation will meet in Washington until Friday. 

When Yukon premier Sandy Silver visited Washington in June, one of the topics of discussion was the wildlife refuge. He said he met with Republican Representative Don Young and Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska to stress the importance of the Porcupine caribou herd to Yukon.


  • A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the meetings wrap up on Thursday. In fact, delegates have meetings until Friday.
    Jul 13, 2017 12:39 PM CT
with files from Meagan Deuling