Signage at the Unist’ot’en camp near Houston, B.C., on Wednesday, January 9, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Leonardo DiCaprio voices support for Unist’oten anti-pipeline camp in northern B.C.

Actor-slash-climate-activists’s message to his 18.9 million followers received a mix of fandom and criticism

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.

Others asked him to consider the roughly 20 elected Indigenous chiefs who signed agreements in support of the project.

READ MORE: B.C. chiefs show solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

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.

READ MORE: RCMP arrest 14 people in northern B.C. over anti-LNG pipeline protest

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.”


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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