In a strange twist to an increasingly bizarre story, Eastmain Chief Lloyd Mayappo has tendered his resignation after originally asking for Deputy Chief John Brown to quit after calling into question his conduct.
The January 23 meeting was called to “expose and explain” the situation of what some are calling a dysfunctional Eastmain Band Council.
The press release also called for either Brown’s or Mayappo’s resignation or both. The council had reached a deadlock and they were no longer able to be a functioning, productive council working for the people.
In a letter to Brown, Mayappo said that Brown was “getting bolder and louder all the time” and he could no longer work with him.
After two failed attempts at garnering enough constituents to participate in a binding election, the council had a meeting in late February to announce a vote, as per their right under the Cree-Naskapi Act.
“Fear-mongering has ruled as both sides have not been totally heard,” said Brown. “I saw this whole situation as a complete disaster. I see it as a loss across the board.”
Some community members had short memories as they blamed the Nation for the election being called, according to Brown.
“People saying that the last Nation article is the reason why this election is going through is absurd and ridiculous. The problem is what Chief Mayappo said at the meeting on January 23. His jumping to conclusions and not listening to his council is causing the problem,” he said.
The crux of the dispute appears to be, at least partially, Brown’s lack of knowledge of the Cree language and his mixed background.
Mayappo conducted the January 23 meeting in Cree and did not inform his Deputy what was said about him – a clear divide gone public.
Brown said that at the meeting of January 23 he was told, because he did not understand Mayappo because he spoke in Cree, that Mayappo was talking about resigning then. But he chose to stay on for another month.
“It was shocking to me,” said Brown. “This is why there was a lot of employee frustration because he decided not to resign. It made for confusion as to who was in charge, who should they listen to at council? You can’t make those statements and pretend like nothing happened and go on with business as usual.”
Brown also said that Mayappo’s February 19 letter of resignation stated that he wanted to resign on February 28. Brown surmises that he wanted to attend the signing ceremony in Mistissini of the $1.4 billion agreement with Ottawa.
Mayappo would not comment when he was reached at his home by telephone.
Councillor Daniel Mark-Stewart would not comment directly on Mayappo’s resignation, but he did go as far as refusing to confirm when the chief resigned. He said that the story was reported even though the Elders did not want it to be in the Nation.
But Brown begged to differ.
“I don’t think there was a vote at the meeting of not going to the Nation,” he said. “This was one person’s opinion.”
Brown’s sister Denise and her children were verbally attacked by Mayappo supporters after the story came out, adding to the sad state the recent political turmoil has caused.
“People may be reacting too far with regards to what they say to my sister or her family because of some of the things I might have said,” said Brown.
“Whenever I express my opinion I try to at least give the reasoning for that opinion,” he continued. “When you’re open with your opinions like that you’re going to be subjected to that type of thing no matter what.”