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Leonardo DiCaprio and Darren Aronofsky receive gift of moccasins in remote Fort Chip

The superstar inspired confidence in the community, Cookie Simpson, who was at a lunch with DiCaprio and Aronofsky, said.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Darren Aronofsky in the tar sands

Leonardo Di Caprio's car drove into town and the megastar jumped out and walked straight to the banks of  the Athabasca Lake. He  took in the beauty. A small group consisting of chiefs and councillors stood talking with him.  "He was in such awe of the environment. He stood at the edge of the lake. He stood there for a good half hour, talking to people there," Cookie Simpson said.

For most of the time, Cookie Simpson remained in silence. Hollywood superstar Leonardo DiCaprio went to have lunch with some 30 members of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, in Alberta, and while he spoke with the Elders, Simpson just ate and listened. Somebody was consistently present with a camera, capturing the visit on film. 

According to Simpson, DiCaprio was there together with acclaimed director Darren Aronofsky, (Noah, Black Swan, The Wrestler) on a mission to gather information for an upcoming environmental documentary.

“[He wanted] just to see the destruction that’s around our area. I feel we have another advocate on our side. It’s so nice because the government will always say there’s nothing wrong with Fort Chipewyan, but their monitoring sucks,” Simpson told the Vancouver Observer.

Simpson has seen her share of Hollywood celebrities from the unlikely location of Fort Chipewyan, population 847. She remembers Avatar’s director James Cameron coming to the area with environmental concerns. Yet, she says, he never came back, nor did he follow through on offering help. Most celebrities visit the oil sands area once and then forget about it, she said. She has a different feeling about DiCaprio, she said. 

"I could tell he cares," she said, saying he seemed genuinely concerned. DiCaprio, who describes himself as an "actor and environmentalist" in his twitter profile, has been one of the leading voices on climate change in Hollywood for years. He produced a film on climate change in 2007, The 11th Hour, and donated $7 million toward ocean conservation and $3 million for wildlife conservation recently. 

The highlight came when Simpson got to present DeCaprio and Aronofsky with a gift of the moccasins she makes from bear hide. "After I presented him with the moccasins, I told them what they were made of. Then I said I need a hug.  He just grabbed me and he hugged me. Now, I'm walking on air.  I'm not going to wash my shirt. I wish I was young again," she added with a girlish laugh. She said they were smelling the hide on the moccasins. 

Aronofsky told the 64-year-old mother of two, grandmother of three and great-grandmother of four, that the moccasins were perfect fit.

When the star and the director arrived, Simpson says they met with the chief and council of the Mikisew Cree First Nations and then with the leadership of the Athabasca First Nations." Following that, they ate a home-cooked lunch, and that was when the moccasins were presented.  "Now, he’s gone on a boat ride with one of the regular people from Fort. Chip," she said.

Simpson said DiCaprio inspired confidence and hope.

“Cameron came here and we never heard nothing back from him. He said he would help us out and we never heard anything.  But Leonardo is here now and he seems much more caring, so much more interested. He’s doing his documentary anyways on the environment. I’m sure when his movie comes out, I’m sure he’s going to be on our side,” Simpson said, after noting that the Titanic actor seemed upset by the destruction by the tar sands on the local environment.

 Photograph of DiCaprio near Lake Athabasca by Beverly Simpson
Leo DiCaprio in Alberta 2014
DiCaprio's film, "The 11th Hour" was a call to action on climate change.


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Leonardo Dicaprio and Darren Aronofsky's visit to Fort Chip

I hope and pray that something positive will come out of this visit by Leonardo, how many stars must visit before the responds to the plight of our people, how many of our people must pass on.  It is hard to believe that the oil industry cannot see the damage they have done.  12 years ago my late husband and I travelled the ice roads from Fort MacMurray to do a project, we were devastated by the condition of the forest leading to the river, the trees were mere saplings but perhaps the strangest thing we observed there was no wildlife.  No I am wrong, there was a mouse which we swerved to avoid, in an instant a raven flew down and scooped up the mouse.  Imagine an area where there was once a magnificent forest and wildlife was now barren.  The people of Fort Chip deserve the freedom to breath clean air and they deserve to live healthy, productive lives  and to grow old gracefully.  

He's just another climate

He's just another climate blame fear monger.

Remaining "believers"; your exaggeration of scientific consensus is pathetic and has made fear mongering neocons out of all of you.

“Believing” and telling our children that 32 years of science never being more than a laughable 95% certain of a global CO2 crisis isn't “belief”; it’s a choice and an irresponsible one that. If you think another three decades of science never being certain of the worst crisis imaginable is sustainable in "belief" for another 30 years, think again. This was Liberalism's Iraq War of lies and fear.

“But mommy, is science 95% sure the planet isn't flat as well as being 95% sure CO2 could flatten it?

95% Nutzoids

One of the continual idiotic comments that come from the climate change denier freaks is the reference to science being only 95% sure.  What this really tells you about such people is that they are totally clueless in understanding how science works, and how scientists report results. 

When you live in a Harperite world of faith in Armageddon, you can be 100% sure of everything, including that you are absolutely infallible.

When you live in the real world, where huge data volumes and hundreds of thousands of individual scientific data points are collected and analyzed, and when you follow the rules of predictive statistics, no true scientist will give you a "100% sure" on anything.

100% is for extreme religious nut cases.  For everyone else, there is a 95% chance your children and grandchildren are heading into a dangerous, erratic - and for many - deadly environment destroyed for human greed.  To accept even a 50% chance of that would indicate a total lack of humanity or 100% faith some higher power will intervene to save your sorry ass.

American celebrity criticizing oil sands.

I find it irritating that American celebrities continue to focus on Canadian oil sands for its' polluting potential when American coal is by far a greater contributor. We need to take care of our planet but lets each of us clean up our own backyard. Leo should start by walking home in his new moccasins.



Special reports

Athabasca tar sands, photographed by Andrew S. Wright

Tar Sands Reporting Project

Our award-winning team's crowd-funded series on the people, places and conflicts associated with Canada's tar sands.
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