Blackjack fills O’Brien’s empty seat

Russell Blackjack is the new crow councillor for the Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation. In Thursday's byelection, Blackjack received 147 votes. Vera Charlie got 120.

Russell Blackjack is the new crow councillor for the Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation.

In Thursday’s byelection, Blackjack received 147 votes. Vera Charlie got 120.

The position was previously held by Joseph O’Brien.

After an elder’s decision to keep Eddie Skookum as chief last November, O’Brien resigned and ripped up the First Nation’s constitution.

O’Brien was trying to force an election, asserting Skookum violated the First Nation’s constitution by abusing alcohol.

In July, Skookum was pulled, drunken, out of his pick-up truck by police in Haines, Alaska, after they found his 21-year-old-girlfriend beaten and bloody in a nearby motel. Skookum was charged with felony assault and he pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment. The Alaskan judge ordered him to take a 30-day treatment program for alcohol abuse.

Joseph and his wife Lorraine mounted a public campaign to force Skookum to resign.

The elders’ decision to keep Skookum as chief divided the First Nation.

The division has not followed family lines, or clan, as in some other Yukon First Nations. This one cuts through families, and has left Lorraine and Joseph as outcasts.

O’Brien declined comment on the election results.