A Titanic error for Leo?

First Nations slam actor DiCaprio for backing call to close BC salmon farms

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First Nations in western Canada have criticised Hollywood star and environmental and Indigenous rights campaigner Leonardo DiCaprio for a lack of knowledge and “cherry picking” which Indigenous rights he supports after he called for the closure of salmon farms in British Columbia.

In a social media post on Instagram, DiCaprio – star of Titanic and many other blockbuster movies - encouraged his 62.1 million followers to support a campaign by anti-salmon farming group Wild First. The group, backed by wealthy investor and sport fisherman Tony Allard, wants to stop BC salmon farm licences being renewed next year, in a move that would cost thousands of jobs and devastate remote First Nations communities that rely on the industry for work and income.

A post on DiCaprio’s Instagram page states: “The Canadian government is considering extending the licenses for open-net pen salmon farms in British Columbia (BC) by up to 6 years. This would break their promise to phase out open-net pen salmon farms, which contain non-native Atlantic Salmon, from coastal BC waters by 2025.

“Join @wildfirstcanada to stop license extensions for ocean-polluting Atlantic salmon farms in BC beyond 2025. Visit the link in bio to learn more.”

'Not our voice'

In a reply to DiCaprio’s post, kaaquaculture (Kitasoo Xai’xais Nation) wrote: “Leo, @wildfirstcanada is not a voice for our lands and stewardship practices, and do not represent us. The waters and lands in question are part of the Kitasoo Xai’xais Nation’s territory. We are salmon stewards and salmon farmers and are guided by traditions that date back generations.

Considering you just made a film that centred on - and profited from - telling Indigenous narratives, we would expect you to put more care into exploring the perspective of the Indigenous Nations whose waters these farms are in

Kitasoo Xai'xais First Nation

“Considering you just made a film that centred on - and profited from - telling Indigenous narratives, we would expect you to put more care into exploring the perspective of the Indigenous Nations whose waters these farms are in. If you would like to engage in a heart-led discussion about this topic, you and Wild First have an open invitation to speak with our leaders at the Kitasoo Xai’xais Nation.”

DiCaprio recently acted in Killers of the Flower Moon, a Western crime drama film co-written, produced, and directed by Martin Scorsese and based on true events. Set in 1920s Oklahoma, it focuses on a series of murders of members and relations in the Native American Osage Nation after oil was discovered on tribal land.

In a post on the social media platform X, the Kitasoo Xai’xais Nation said it was “incredibly disappointed with the false narrative being spun about the impacts of fish farms in BC”.

“There is an incorrect story being told by celebrities and activists who do not understand nor account for the realities of First Nations. Organizations like Wild Fist Canada pull activists and the public in with misinformation and get big names to stand behind them, with zero accountability for how this could devastate the progress Indigenous Peoples have made to attain food affordability, job security, and independence as a nation.

'More harm than good'

“Public figures like Leonardo DiCaprio may falsely believe they are doing the right thing by putting their names behind this cause. But in reality, aligning with campaigns without an understanding of the deep-seated implications does more harm than good. In the case of banning open-net pen fish farming, they directly threaten the rights, livelihood, and very fabric of First Nations communities, such as Kitasoo Xai’xais. This goes far beyond endorsing a commercial brand; their actions jeopardize the well-being of Indigenous Peoples and break Canada’s promise to First Nations.

“100% of the remaining fish farms in BC operate in First Nation waters and agree on how finfish farming is to take place in our territories. Our approach to modern salmon farming removes pressure from wild Pacific salmon populations in BC and does not harm the ocean. Decisions about our territories should not be made or influenced by external parties, be it the Government of Canada, privileged self-serving CEOs, or Hollywood actors. The Kitasoo Xai’xais people have stewarded these territories for centuries, guarding our lands, waters, and communities since time immemorial.

Salmon stewards

“We the Kitasoo Xai’xais Nation, are salmon stewards and salmon farmers, and we will not be governed by external influences who have excluded Coastal First Nations from writing their own narratives and determining their own future."

Eight years ago, DiCaprio’s charitable foundation donated US $15.6 million to help protect wildlife and the rights of Native Americans, along with mitigating climate change. That October, DiCaprio joined actor Mark Ruffalo in support of the Standing Rock tribe’s opposition to an oil pipeline.

But First Nations for Finfish Stewardship, a group of BC First Nations that support salmon farming in their territories and includes the Kitasoo Xai’xais, pointed out that DiCaprio is ignoring the rights of its members.

UNDRIP cannot be cherrypicked. Stop interfering with the rights of BC First Nations

First Nations for Finfish Stewardship

In the post on X, it wrote: “An American celebrity using his platform to interfere with a Government of Canada’s policy and harm coastal Indigenous communities in another country is gross and unacceptable, especially after his public support of the Osage Nation for his new movie. UNDRIP (United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) cannot be cherrypicked. Stop interfering with the rights of BC First Nations.”


On Instagram, the Global Seafood Alliance replied to DiCaprio’s post by claiming it was “incredibly disappointing and misinformed”.

“Aquaculture provides a solution to feed the world’s growing population in a responsible way – there is only so much land available to convert to agriculture. Responsibly farmed seafood enables millions of people to have access to safe, healthy protein. Aquaculture production emits less greenhouse gas emissions than all other types of livestock industries (pork, beef, chicken, etc.), while providing millions of jobs around the world,” said the GSA.

DiCaprio has a long history of supporting environmental causes. His Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation is a financial backer of Re: wild (formerly Global Wildlife Conservation), which describes itself as “a force multiplier that brings together Indigenous peoples, local communities, influential leaders, nongovernmental organizations, governments, companies, and the public to protect and rewild at the scale and speed we need”.

But the actor’s use of private jets and large yachts have been criticised as hypocritical due to their large carbon footprints.