The Vuntut Gwitchin government is holding another byelection after councillor Marilyn Charlie resigned from her position on July 7.
Charlie is the seventh councillor to resign since the last general election in 2018. In a long statement posted to social media, Charlie said she was forced to resign due to an untenable situation in the government.
“When I started I had faith. Now I do not,” she wrote.
In an interview with the News, Charlie said she continually struggled with a lack of deadlines, teamwork and transparency in the government. She said workplace grievances were dismissed and too much communication relied on email.
“I was constantly looking at it from the community point of view, the best way that I could. And I just found that there was no follow-through,” she said. “I was constantly saying ‘When can we have a formal council meeting to do updates? When can we have a public meeting?’ There’s always something coming up that pushes it aside. So I got frustrated. It’s really hard to have to repeat yourself 1,000 times just to get a job done.”
Charlie accepted the councillor position and relocated from Alberta to Old Crow in February. She said she was excited to return to her hometown and brought with her education and management experience that she thought could help tackle big issues facing the community.
She said she believes the government is not effectively tackling issues in the community such as housing shortages and mental wellness.
“These are all things I brought up to council. I mean, that’s what I thought I went up there to do, was to serve the people and help the people,” she said.
Instead, she said her four months spent working on council were difficult, despite enjoying the chance to reconnect with the community. She said she also felt the effects of lateral violence.
She eventually made the difficult decision to resign and move back to Alberta after long discussions with elders and friends on how to make things work.
She said attempts were made to keep her on council after she penned her resignation, but her decision was made.
Chief Dana Tizya-Tramm did not respond to a request for comment, but a public statement released by VGFN thanked Charlie “for all her hard work and dedication to VGG.”
Following Charlie’s resignation, a virtual meeting was held for VGFN citizens “to discuss the recent resignation of an elected Council member and next steps.”
A byelection to fill her seat and an additional vacant position has been set for Aug. 16. Advance polls will be held on Aug. 8 and Aug. 9 at the Old Crow Community Centre. Nominations close on July 29 at 2 p.m.
Normally the VGFN government is composed of one chief and four councillors. Terms are four years long.
Tizya-Tramm, deputy chief Paul Josie and councillor Tracy Rispin are the remaining elected officials. Rispin is currently on medical leave, but the council has agreed to count her remotely in order to achieve the three-person quorum needed to make decisions.
Earlier this year, Katriel Villacorta and Esau Schafer resigned on Jan. 4.
Previous to that, three councillors were acclaimed in 2018; Cheryl Joyce Charlie, Marvin Frost Jr. and Brandy Star Tizya. Darius Elias later sat as deputy chief. All four resigned before their terms ended.
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