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Deputy chief of Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation to resign

Darius Elias was appointed as a councillor in 2019 following VGFN’s 2018 general election
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Darius Elias speak’s in the community centre in Old Crow in 2016. The deputy chief of Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation said he will be resigning from his position, leaving only the chief and one councillor from the 2018 election remaining in leadership. (Maura Forrest/Yukon News file)

The deputy chief of Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation (VGFN) will be resigning from his position, leaving only the chief and one councillor from the 2018 election remaining in leadership.

Darius Elias submitted his resignation on June 10.

A press release from the Vuntut Gwitchin Government on June 11 said that Elias will be retiring from politics.

“I have dedicated my entire professional career to help fulfil the Vuntut Gwitchin vision and I am confident that I have now fulfilled my promise to my Grandma the late Mary Kassi,” Elias said in the release.

“… It is time to move on to other challenges and pay more care and attention to my family.”

VFGN is “already in the process of filling vacant seats on Council,” according to the press release.

According to the Vuntut Gwitchin Constitution, a by-election will be held if vacancies on council occur when there are more than six months remaining before a general election.

Rebecca Shrubb, VGFN’s director of intergovernmental relations and policy development and the media contact listed on the Vuntut Gwitchin Government’s press release, did not respond to questions about whether VGFN would be holding a by-election and when, saying only that council was in meetings all day and would not be available for comment.

Elias said in the press release that he would be there to ensure quorum and assist with the transition period for new council members, as well as “respect the Oath of Office and the VGFN Constitution to alleviate any stresses and minimize the impact to the good governance of the Vuntut Gwitchin.”

He did not respond to several requests for comment from the News.

Elias was appointed as a councillor in May 2019 after running for chief in VGFN’s general election in November 2018 and losing to current Chief Dana Tizya-Tramm. He joined three other councillors — Cheryl Charlie, Marvin Frost Jr. and Brandy Tizya — who were acclaimed to their positions. (Frost Jr. and Tizya have since stepped down.)

Charlie and Elias were suspended from council with pay for two weeks in June 2019 after Charlie, then deputy chief, was charged with impaired driving.

Elias had worked as VGFN’s fish and wildlife manager prior to becoming a councillor, and before that, as a territorial politician, serving two terms as a Liberal MLA for the Vuntut Gwitchin riding from 2006 to 2011 before switching to the Yukon Party in 2013. He ran for a third term in 2016 but lost to Liberal candidate Pauline Frost.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com