Eskasoni chief resigns over health issues
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