Eska­soni chief re­signs over health is­sues

Cape Breton Post - - CAPE BRETON - BY ERIN POTTIE epot­tie@cb­post.com

ESKA­SONI— The chief of the Eska­soni First Na­tion has re­signed.

Sources close to the band say the com­mu­nity was of­fi­cially no­ti­fied Mon­day that Char­lie Joe Den­nis is step­ping down due to health con­cerns.

In a let­ter from Den­nis, he says ill­ness over the past few months has meant he has been un­able to ful­fil his du­ties as chief. Af­ter con­sult­ing with doc­tors and fam­ily, Den­nis de­cided to re­sign ef­fec­tive this week.

A long­time ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Unama’ki In­sti­tute of Nat­u­ral Re­sources, Den­nis was first elected as chief in 2006 at a tra­di­tional abo­rig­i­nal sweet-grass-burn­ing cer­e­mony and later re-elected to a two-year term in Novem­ber 2008. He is also a hus­band and fa­ther of 12 chil­dren.

“My fail­ing health has pre­vented me from do­ing my job,” the let­ter reads. “Over the past few months I have spent more and more time at the hospi­tal and it has been made clear to me that it is cru­cial to my health that I step down from my re­spon­si­bil­i­ties as chief im­me­di­ately.

“I have en­joyed my time with the peo­ple and with the staff and am con­fi­dent in the di­rec­tion that Eska­soni is head­ing. I be­lieve that dur­ing my time as chief we have brought sta­bil­ity and con­sis­tency to the com­mu­nity. I have faith in coun­cil’s abil­ity to act within the best in­ter­est of the com­mu­nity and that they will be able to lead us un­til the term is over.”

Rather than stage a spe­cial elec­tion in ad­vance of the sched­uled Novem­ber gen­eral elec­tion, coun­cil­lors are ex­pected to take turns serv­ing as coun­cil chief and will be as­signed de­part­ments to over­see, with other chief du­ties shared.

A sim­i­lar sce­nario was played out when for­mer chief Blair Fran­cis re­signed dur­ing a coun­cil meet­ing in 2006 af­ter run­ning into op­po­si­tion over his pro­posed joint ven­ture with a Louis­bourg-based fish pro­cess­ing com­pany. Fran­cis had an­nounced the deal prior to coun­cil ap­proval.

Char­lie Joe Den­nis

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