There is nowhere that Charlie Dennis is more at home than in a boat on the Bras d’Or Lakes or walking along her peaceful shores….except sitting in a boardroom navigating the complexities of government and community relations. Anyone who has seen Charlie in action knows that one of his greatest skills is listening and his ability to bring a quiet calm to the bumpiest of seas. Maybe it’s the many years that he spent on the Lakes, observing nature and the environment, that helps guide him in negotiating the sometimes rough waters of government departments and the private sector.
Charlie is UINR’s Senior Advisor and he guides our staff of the delicate art of government relations and dealing with other user groups. His wealth of knowledge of the fisheries and wildlife is invaluable. Charlie, of course, is no stranger to UINR. He was instrumental in the organization’s formation over 10 years ago and has served as Executive Director through much of that time, before becoming Chief of Eskasoni several years ago. Today, through his role as Senior Advisor, he continues to help get things done.
Everyone who has seen Charlie at meetings or in the boardroom is struck by his diplomacy and his ability to create an understanding between often competing interests. He has a way of bringing people together, finding a common ground and before long, they are working together towards a common goal.
Charlie has always enjoyed nature. For much of his early working life he worked fishing lobster and herring before finding his true calling in the oyster fishery. This is an area where Charlie has done it all–from raking oyster from a row boat to manager of a successful oyster farm–there is nothing that he doesn’t know about oyster. Just the mention of the bumpy shellfish lights up his eyes! Over the years he has watched the industry rise and fall, and he helped it grow into a multi-million dollar industry, just to watch it be devastated by disease and destroyed by greed. Maybe this is why he works so hard to make sure that it doesn’t happen in other areas by using his experience to ensure that the same mistakes are not made again.
Today, if you are looking for Charlie, he’s likely at a meeting on moose management, helping develop a strategy to protect the Bras d’Or Lakes, protecting the wild salmon population or preserving his much-loved spiritual home–Malagawatch. And, if he’s not out a meeting somewhere, you can likely find him sharing a story or quietly guiding UINR staff with his knowledge and wisdom.
“I will never forget the feeling of pride I felt years ago when the whole Mi’kmaq fishing fleet came in together to Eskasoni to celebrate our successful fishery. I dreamed that someday we would have Mi’kmaq fisheries officers and biologists trained and working on the Bras d’or Lakes…and it’s happened. It’s a great feeling!”