GETTY

THE
ARCTIC
RAILWAY

BUILDING A FUTURE... 

OR
DESTROYING A CULTURE?

By Eilís Quinn

Web Production 
Mathiew Leiser

THE
ARCTIC
RAILWAY

MARIE ENOKSSON

Saami have been speaking out against the Arctic railway for over two years.

GREENPEACE

The railway would have split
every family's winter pastures around our (reindeer) cooperative.

JUSSA SEURUJARVI

Jussa Seurujarvi
Reindeer Herder, Finland

The project was abandoned
in February 2019 for economic reasons.

FINNISH MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT AND COMMUNICATIONS

But in May, entrepreneur Peter Vesterbacka relaunched the project.

ANTTI PAKKANEN / ARCTIC BUSINESS FORUM

Vesterbacka is the marketing mastermind who turned Angry Birds into a global sensation.

GETTY

Saami communities across Arctic Europe were stunned.

EILÍS QUINN / EYE ON THE ARCTIC

To have this new kind of Messiah arriving to decide how the land we live in should be developed is
quite strange.

ASE M.P. PULK/SÁMEDIGGI

Aili Keskitalo
President Saami parliament in Norway

The Arctic railway isn't just going to kill our livelihood, it will kill our culture, language and identity.

EILÍS QUINN / EYE ON THE ARCTIC

Jussa Seurujarvi
Reindeer Herder, Finland

But Vesterbacka says the railway can be built without hurting Saami culture.

REUTERS

And local authorities say as climate change transforms the Arctic, the project is key to the region's future development. 

CHRISTINE GALSCHJODT / GALSCJODT DESIGN LTD
COURTESY SOR-VARANGER UTVIKLING

China and Russia are making huge investments in the Arctic and developing trade routes.

AFP / GETTY

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The question for us is: Do we want to be part of it, or watch from Kirkenes as the ships pass us by?

CHRISTINE GALSCHJODT / GALSCJODT DESIGN LTD
COURTESY SOR-VARANGER UTVIKLING

Kenneth Stalsett
CEO, Sor-Varanger Utvikling

Now, Europe's Saami communities wonder what will happen next...

JUSSA SEURUJARVI

Our whole life is in industry and the Finnish government's hands. It's really scary.

MARIE ENOKSSON

Jussa Seurajarvi
Reindeer Herder, Finland