Okanagan Nation Alliance calls for inquiry following Saunders conviction | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Okanagan Nation Alliance calls for inquiry following Saunders conviction

Robert Riley Saunders
Image Credit: Global Okanagan (with permission)

The Okanagan Nation Alliance is demanding a public inquiry into the actions of Robert Reilly Saunders and the workplace circumstances that allowed him to steal from Indigenous youth in his care for years.

Saunders pleaded guilty in July and was convicted on three counts for breach of trust and forgery out of an original 13 charges and sent to jail for five years.

READ MORE: UPDATE: Disgraced Kelowna social worker gets five years jail

“Ministry of Children and Family Development workers, team leads and managers refused to listen to numerous complaints regarding Saunders’ conduct by his own clients, Indigenous band workers and community members,” an Okanagan Nation Alliance letter to three B.C. government ministers reads.

“This corrupt work culture became the breeding ground for Saunders to steal just under half a million dollars from youth who were on his caseload, defrauding them of their food, clothing, services and shelter allowances, leaving many of them destitute, homeless and struggling to survive.”

The letter is addressed to the Minister of Children and Family Development, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation and the Attorney General.

It’s calling for an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the fraud and theft along with a comprehensive review of the ministry to “ensure undetected internal Ministry of Children and Family Development fraud does not continue to harm children and youth,” the letter says.

It calls for any recommendations of the inquiry to be implemented “with the resources required to ensure long-lasting and meaningful system changes to the child welfare system in B.C.”

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