Mathilde Nadeau The mayor of Chapais, Isabelle Lessard, resigns due to professional burnout.
A few months after a difficult summer dealing with historic forest fires, the mayor of Chapais, Isabelle Lessard, is stepping down due to professional burnout.
The 23-year-old handed in his resignation on Wednesday and will leave office in a few days, after having been on sick leave since September.
She will bow out two years after her election at the head of the small town of 1,500 inhabitants in Northern Quebec.
In an interview with The Canadian Press, Ms. Lessard said indicated that she simply did not feel capable of fulfilling her mandate, specifying that she was at risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Even if I was at my 100% when it was time to return to work, the workload is going to be enormous because I was still absent for a bit,” she explained on the phone.
“I saw this happening and I said to myself: I don’t think I’m going to have managed to rebuild myself strong enough to be able to face it, then return and continue to lead the same lifestyle that I have carried out in recent months. »
Last summer was very tiring for the mayor. Chapais was affected by the major forest fires which raged in the region. At the beginning of June, approximately two-thirds of the residents had to leave the municipality's territory for several days, driven out by the flames.
In September, Ms. Lessard began to think that something wasn't working: she wasn't sleeping well and she felt constantly stressed. It was at this moment that she had to be placed on sick leave.
The young woman also says she felt a lot of anger in the months preceding her decision, because it was not due to lack of interest she leaves her position.
“I wanted a little bit out of life. I said to myself: 'Hug, why did these fires have to happen, it doesn't make any sense,'” she explained.
“Then, anger towards me: “I was not up to the task. I wasn’t strong enough to get through that.” »
However, she wants to assure that this is not the last time we see her in public spaces.
“Yes, I'm leaving two years later, but I still have my life ahead of me, and maybe it's not the end of politics for me in my life. I think I need to take a step back. »
A message to young people
Ms. Lessard is aware that she is sending a “contradictory” message to young people who would like to enter politics, but she still encourages them to take the plunge.
“I am aware that with the message I am sending today, it is not very attractive to get into politics,” he said. -she said, bursting out laughing.
“I think you just have to be aware of those battles,” she added of mental health.
She is openly concerned, however, that there is no replacement to take his place at town hall. Ms. Lessard was elected without opposition in 2021.
“I can’t wait to see who will replace me as mayor,” she said. I'm still afraid that there won't be any replacements, that there won't be people who want to get involved, especially at the young level. »
Tribute from the UMQ
In a press release, the Union of Municipalities of Quebec (UMQ) paid tribute to the work of the young woman.
“Isabelle gave herself body and soul for her community, it is now her turn to take care of it. There is no doubt that she has a bright future ahead of her,” declared the president of the UMQ, Martin Damphousse.
“Her decision gravely reminds us that municipal elected officials are before all human beings. The challenges and crises they face are increasingly complex and also reveal the importance of their role,” he added.
The UMQ also says it has taken action to support elected officials who face mental health problems.
- Captains in the storm at 23, 29 and 35 years old
- Half of the village of Chapais was evacuated due to a forest fire