RAVEN Remembers Gapaygy’m Ganauu – Richard Wright
We are saddened by the passing of Richard Wright, land defender of the Gitxan House group Wilp Luutkudziiwus. Richard helped found the Madii Lii camp on the Suskwa River which acted as an anchor for cultural revitalization and resistance to gas pipelines. RAVEN has worked with Richard since July 2015 when we launched the Madii Lii campaign. He – and his big, infectious laugh and tightly held purpose – convinced our then-tiny team to take on the challenge he was determined to face down. That relationship got even closer in 2017, when we took on fundraising for Gitxsan, Gitanyow and Gitwilgyoots legal challenges to the Petronas pipeline. Richard tirelessly travelled to speak at events, once driving from Madii Lii into Vancouver in a single day to make it in time for an event at the Wise Hall. A fierce defender of Gitxsan land and lifeways, Richard had an incredible ability to communicate from the heart with people from different walks of life. Hamiiya Richard. We will miss you. – Susan
I met Richard at an event in east Vancouver that brought together people involved in movements to support Indigenous solidarity, protect wild salmon, fight poverty on the downtown East Side, push back against LNG and protect women and girls from violence. This was the kind of braiding that Richard could do – bringing together diverse threads into one strong whole. Richard spoke from the heart about the cultural re-presencing that he was part of up at Madii Lii camp, and about the responsibility he held so dear to pass along a full basket to the next generation. He lived that responsibility and carried that love for the land and water but was not weighed down by it. His spirit was lively, gentle, and funny. I am so grateful that I got to hear Richard’s stories and am honoured to carry out some of his legacy of protection and respect for a life. Wishing your family mugs of wild tea, and many fine evenings sharing stories of your epic life, Richard. — Andrea
I will never forget the time I spent at Madii Lii in the summer of 2017. One day two burly guys showed up at the Suskwa bridge checkpoint in a big truck. They were mining contractors who wanted to do some mineral exploration in the area. Richard came out to greet them with a big smile. He showed them around the camp in the most hospitable way possible, all the while discoursing gently on Gitxsan history and law, and the Wilp Luutkuziiwus no-mining policy. You had to know him to realize he was inwardly laughing all the time. Then he walked them back to their vehicle and gave them directions back to Smithers!
I worked with Richard primarily on the Petronas campaign but he never forgot the bigger picture or the struggles of neighbouring Nations. He deeply understood the many ways fracking, LNG and the Site C dam are only interconnected symptoms of a deeper dysfunction, and he worked tirelessly to bring people together to make common cause. He travelled widely – from the Peace to stand with Chief Willson of West Moberly, down to the Kootenays to remind people that the Columbia dams that flooded their homes and farms decades ago were part of the same destructive pattern. And all points in between! He was a fierce defender, a clear seer and a big heart. With gratitude, Ana
We raise our hands to Gapaygy’m Ganauu. May you rest in power.