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Indigenous fish farm group demands William Shatner, Ryan Reynolds apologize

Statement from BC First Nations demanding apology from William Shatner and Ryan Reynolds The Rightsholder First Nations who have the rights, title, and sovereign decision-making authority about what happens in our unceded traditional territories dema
Salmon farm off the coast of Vancouver Island (Black Press files)

The actors famous for such iconic roles as Star Trek's Capt. James T. Kirk and superhero Deadpool should apologize for attacking the dignity of First Nations people who work in the fish farming industry, a First Nations group supporting fish farms says.

"The Rightsholder First Nations who have the rights, title, and sovereign decision-making authority about what happens in our unceded traditional territories demand a public apology from both William Shatner and Ryan Reynolds for their part in Pacific Wild’s advertisement attacking the dignity of our Nations and their members who choose to host salmon farming in our waters," a statement from the Coalition of First Nations for Finfish Stewardship (the Coalition) says.

Shatner and Reynolds appear in a video put out by the Pacific Wild conservation group that is laced with the "F-word" and which calls for an end to ocean-based fish farms. The video comes out after federal Fisheries Minister Diane Lebouthillier announced last week a plan to remove open-pen fish farms from the ocean by 2029 and issue licences only to closed containment fish rearing

Pacific Wild calls for people to use "un-Canadian" language in letters to political representatives opposing extending the licence even to 2029.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged during the 2019 election that his government would phase out open ocean-pen farming.

The B.C. Salmon Farmers Association has said about 4,700 jobs and more than $1 billion in annual economic activity will be lost if open-pen licences can’t be renewed.

"Sadly, this response from people like Mr. Shatner and Mr. Reynolds is all-to-common in today’s Canada," the Coalition says. "This is a classic example of a rich, elite, removed, urban white men overriding the wishes of vulnerable Indigenous communities, a reoccurring theme within the Liberal government and recent decisions made by politicians like Minister Wilkinson. 

"There are nearly 700 Indigenous peoples working directly and indirectly in salmon farming, a sector that brings $133 million a year to First Nations annually. To repeatedly say 'f*ck off' to a sector that is woven into the social and economic fabrics of a dozen First Nations along BC’s coast implies that you do not care about the human well being of our remote communities that do not have a lot of options to turn to economically. These jobs, this sector, cannot be replaced."

The Coalition says First Nations have been the stewards of their lands, waters, and elements for over 10,000 years, including wild Pacific salmon, the life blood of their people. Due to the impact of colonization on wild salmon stocks, they have had to include salmon farming alongside salmon stewardship to fill the economic gap caused by the decline of wild salmon.

– with files from Canadian Press

"We are most disappointed in Mr. Reynolds part in this. The caring image he has built for himself, in our eyes, apparently could not be further from the truth after this video was released insulting our people. He, being a British Columbian, should have realized how hurtful, shameful, and impactful these words and this video would land on impoverished, struggling Indigenous communities that are striving to achieve the fraction of the wealth Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Shatner have amassed."

The Coalition says it expects an apology in the coming days.

Alistair Taylor

About the Author: Alistair Taylor

I have been editor of the Campbell River Mirror since 1989. Our team takes great pride in serving our community.
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