In the land of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, British Columbia, the people live in communion with the Salmon People, and the latter make up an integral constitution of the land’s systemic balance. Mark Ruffalo, the Marvel actor, and environmental activist has recently spoken up about the Indigenous People living in and around the Wedzin Kwa (Bulkley River) lands and the immediate threat posed on the livelihood of the inhabitants due to the surrounding industrial affluence and carbon emissions.
In a tweet, the actor shared a link to an article providing a deeply moving insight into the Indigenous People, their culture, and traditions, marred only by the imposing encroachment of the corporate developments that look to build gas pipelines in the area.
Mark Ruffalo Speaks Up For the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights
Mark Ruffalo, the Hollywood A-lister, was brought out of the blinding comforts of his home and delivered a reality check on the conquering rampage of industrial companies when one landed near his farm in upstate New York. A decade ago, the actor began to speak against these encroachers and the latter’s destructive influence on the people living in the area, including the surrounding habitat.
However, the recent developments around the Bulkley River territory began a long time ago. In March 2022, Ruffalo joined forces with Indigenous climate activists to persuade the Royal Bank of Canada into cutting ties with Coastal Gaslink, the multi-billion dollar company that is now threatening the habitat of the Salmon People and preparing to drill right under the Wedzin Kwa.
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Since 2012, the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs have stood against the corporation and its plans for the land. However, in a frighteningly similar depiction to James Cameron’s Avatar, the encroachers have policed the involvement of the Indigenous people who sought to defend and protect their land and continue to arrest activists and allies.
The Codependency of the Indigenous & the Salmon People
In an article written by Matt Simmons for The Narwhal, a celebratory event is relayed in which the Wet’suwet’en celebrate the return of the salmon to their territory on the Bulkley River –
“The return of the salmon is a joyful event. For the Wet’suwet’en, it’s also a signal to pause and reflect on the abundance of the natural world and the role humans play in protecting that abundance.”
In their tradition, the fish is caught, cooked in a stew, eaten, and the bones returned to the river. David de Wit, a member of the Laksilyu clan (one of the five clans that comprise the Wet’suwet’en First Nation) claims,
“Returning the bones is almost like a contract. There’s a reciprocal relationship: they’re bringing a life sustaining source to us and we’re a part of recycling of nutrients and recycling of knowledge.
When we return the bones, we say we’re going to take care of the waters where you travel, where you raise your young ones, where you spawn. It’s our responsibility to take care of these waters. And we ask the Salmon People, please continue to come and feed us — our lives, our culture, our language, our wellness comes from water and the salmon.”
Matt Simmon then says –
“The responsibility to care for the water is part of ‘anuc niwh’it’ën, Wet’suwet’en laws. Those laws go back thousands of years, long before colonizers arrived, and are a foundation for how to live sustainably and maintain respect — for the river, the animals, and future generations.”
The Coastal Gaslink project still continues to haunt the Indigenous People and their land. Their recent pipeline which is being prepared for drilling under the Bulkley River will connect fracked gas fields in northeastern British Columbia and stretch over a length of over 416 miles.