Keynote Speaker - Dr. Michelle Oakley
Meet the Yukon’s Official Veterinarian
Meet Dr. Michelle Oakley, the only all-species veterinarian for Northern Canada’s vast Yukon territory and the subject of Nat Geo Wild’s series Dr. Oakley: Yukon Vet. The show follows the Oakley family as it copes with a harsh environment and a job that keeps Oakley constantly on the move.
While in the third year of her zoology undergrad at the University of Michigan, Dr. Oakley spent two summers in the Yukon as a field assistant on an arctic ground squirrel ecology study. It was during that first trip that she met and fell in love with local fire fighter Shane Oakley, who kept referring to her as "Squirrel Girl" but she had to return to Michigan until moving back after graduation.
After marrying Shane, Dr. Oakley was 26 and went on to have two of her three daughters while attending vet school at the Atlantic Veterinary College and graduated in 2001 with a doctorate in veterinary medicine. Shane cared for the children while she studied. After that she interned at the Calgary Zoo and is now an Associate Professor at the University of Calgary's College for Veterinary Medicine and often travels back to the Calgary Zoo as part of her job.
In Haines Junction, Yukon, Dr. Oakley now runs an animal clinic out of the home she shares with her husband Shane and three daughters, Sierra, Maya, and Willow. She also runs weekly clinical sessions 148 miles away in Haines, Alaska, and 96 miles away in Whitehorse, Yukon.
In Haines, Dr. Oakley shares her satellite clinic with the American Bald Eagle Foundation which houses injured birds unable to survive in the wild. In Whitehorse, Dr. Oakley works as an on-call vet for the Yukon Wildlife Preserve, which houses a massive enclosure full of animals native to the Yukon and a large wildlife rehabilitation facility.
Michelle has run specialized research programs for First Nation organizations and the Canadian government. She is the first veterinarian to be a regional biologist in Canada's Yukon Territory.
Fiercely committed to her clients and animals of all species, she also makes house calls, sometimes driving hundreds of miles through the rugged Yukon terrain to check on a patient in need.
Other than her three daughters, Dr. Oakley is mother to one pug named Daisy May Lover Pants.