Mayor of Chapais resigns mid-mandate because of stress managing forest fires

By Vicky Fragasso-Marquis
Canadian Press in the Montreal Gazette
November 8, 2023
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada East

Isabelle Lessard

One of Quebec’s youngest mayors announced Wednesday she will be stepping down next week, suffering the effects of burnout from handling last summer’s historic wildfire season in her northern community. Isabelle Lessard was acclaimed in 2021 as mayor of Chapais, a town of just over 1,500 people, located 500 kilometres north of Montreal near Chibougamau. The 23-year-old said Wednesday that her resignation is effective Nov. 17, about halfway through her mandate. She has been on a leave since mid-September, after shepherding Chapais through one of the worst forest fire seasons on record. In an interview with The Canadian Press, Lessard said she feels unable to complete her term and is at risk of developing post-traumatic stress syndrome. …At the beginning of June, two-thirds of the residents of Lessard’s community were forced from their homes for several days as wildfires closed in. The community was on high alert in the weeks that followed.

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