Mi'sel Joe is Chief of Miawpukek First Nation in Conne River. (Paul Pickett/CBC)
After five decades in community politics and over three decades as chief, Mi'sel Joe says he's retiring as administrative chief of Newfoundland's Miawpukek First Nation.
Joe announced his retirement in a news release on Monday — the anniversary of when he was sworn in as administrative chief following the pass of his uncle, Chief William Joe, in 1982. His last day in the role will be Wednesday.
The decision came over the Christmas break, he told CBC News, when he and his family decided it was time to move on.
He will remain a traditional chief, a title given to a spiritual leader committed to preserving the language, culture of traditions of Miawpukek.
"I continue to deal with government and deal with all the things that I've been doing over the years on that traditional side, but leaving the headaches to the new chief and council," he said Monday evening.
"I didn't retire to go in the woods and fade away. I retired because I need more time to deal with the traditional side of our community."
Joe, 76, first entered community politics in 1974. He said he's seen great amounts of positive change during his tenure, and prides the nation on running their own schools, housing and community-owned businesses.
"I think we have an incredible community, incredible people. And moving forward with some, you know, really talented, highly educated young people," he said. "I think the future looks incredibly bright."
Joe said he still has projects he'd like to complete, like finishing the repatriation of the remains of Beothuk Demasduit and Nonosabasut from Scotland and expanding the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in schools in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Asked about his proudest accomplishment, Joe pointed to a 1983 hunger strike and occupation of the provincial Department of Rural, Agricultural and Northern Development over federal funding that the province was withholding. He now says the governments have a great relationship that will continue to be nurtured with new leadership.
Harvey Drew will serve as interim chief of Miawpukek until a by-election scheduled for Jan. 26. A new chief will be elected in June.