Leonardo DiCaprio, the award-winning actor and climate activist, has voiced his support for a group of First Nations protesters who are against the Coastal Gaslink LNG pipeline in northern B.C.
DiCaprio is one of a handful of celebrities who have voiced their support for the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and its members who are against the $6.2-billion pipeline set to transport natural gas from near Dawson Creek to Kitimat.
In a tweet on Friday, he urged his 18.9 million followers to sign a petition created by protesters at the Unist’oten camp “as they fight to protect their lands.”
DiCaprio’s message received a mix of fandom and criticism, with dozens calling him a hypocrite for rejecting the pipeline but still enjoying a lush lifestyle surely burning fossil fuels.
So what are you using for your home and your luxury cars? What do you think your airplane uses?
— Samara2019 (@kerby9617) February 9, 2019
Others asked him to consider the roughly 20 elected Indigenous chiefs who signed agreements in support of the project.
At the core of the dispute is confusion over details in the Indian Act and unresolved issues over land claim boundaries. Hereditary chiefs against the pipeline argue they are the ones who have authority over the 22,000 square kilometres of Wet’suwet’en traditional territory while elected band members administer the reserves.
In early January, actors Susan Sarandon, Ellen Page and Rosario Dawson used their social media capital to highlight anti-pipeline solidarity protests that were held across Canada after RCMP moved into breakup one of the camps setup to block access to Coast Gaslink’s construction sites near the Morice River Bridge, south of Houston.
We must stand in solidarity with #Unistoten.They are protecting the environment for ALL of us and Canada is raiding their unceded territory via armed RCMP. Canada's violence towards indigenous people is nothing new nor are the false promises made about ending it. @JustinTrudeau http://t.co/tDXFjOAc1K
— Ellen Page (@EllenPage) January 9, 2019
Coastal Gaslink announced on Jan. 28 that it would halt operations because traps had been placed inside construction boundaries and people were entering the site, raising safety concerns. They have since announced temporary homes will be built nearby to house pipeline workers who will be constructing new access roads ahead of further work.
On Thursday, the provincial government and Wet’suwet’en heriditary chiefs said in a joint statement that they are committed to “explore a path forward together, government-to-government, that seeks to build trust over time and meaningfully advance reconciliation.”