Robert Riley Saunders. (File)

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)

First Nations Leadership Council demands justice for victims of B.C. social worker

Union of BC Indian Chiefs calls actions of Robert Saunders ‘nothing short of complete depravity’

The B.C. First Nations Leadership Council is speaking out against the alleged ‘corrupt’ actions of ‘disgraced’ former Kelowna social worker, Robert Saunders.

It’s alleged Saunders stole money from foster children, the majority of which were Indigenous, leaving them homeless and subject to abuse and addiction.

“For over a decade, this man preyed upon and exploited some of the most vulnerable members of our society for personal profit and gain, while acting under the auspices of the Ministry of Children and Family Development – the branch of our government that is tasked with protecting these young people,” said Cheryl Casimer of the First Nations Summit in a statement on Dec. 5.

This comes after news that an Okanagan-area social worker accused of stealing money from foster children is now facing criminal charges, approved Friday (Dec. 4) by the BC Prosecution Service.

The Capital News previously reported that Robert Riley Saunders was arrested in Alberta and will be brought back to B.C. to face charges.

READ MORE: Former Kelowna social worker arrested for allegedly stealing from foster children

Saunders is facing 13 charges including 10 counts of fraud over $5,000, one count of theft over $5,000, one count of breach of trust and one count of uttering a forged document. He is also facing a class-action lawsuit, led by former youth in care in B.C.

It’s alleged he moved children in government care from stable homes in order to make them eligible for financial benefits from the province, before stealing those government funds.

The BC First Nations Leadership Council referenced an internal investigation completed by the Ministry of Children and Family Development found that Robert Saunders had victimized approximately 102 children and youth, over 90 of whom were Indigenous.

“We were outraged to learn of this disgusting situation and that it went undetected for so long. The individuals who were harmed by this man, along with their families, have been left with lifelong traumas as a direct result of his actions. We are grateful to see that charges have finally been laid and he has been arrested. May justice be served for his victims,” said Casimer.

Regional Chief Terry Teegee of the BC Assembly of First Nations the actions of Saunders towards Indigenous youth ‘is demonstrative’ of the broader systemic issues that have placed less value upon their lives, needs and circumstances.

He quoted this as being a time of change and opportunity, and that they hope to see this change reflect in the prosecution of Saunders.

“Let this not be another case where a non-Indigenous man is privileged within the justice system while the Indigenous children and youth he preyed upon are denied the justice they are due.”

READ MORE: 81 new cases of COVID-19 detected in Interior Health Friday

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: phil.mclachlan@kelownacapnews.com


 

@newspaperphil
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Crime

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Karilyn, right, with her older sister, Sabrina. Both siblings are members of the YANA family, after being helped by the community organization on separate occasions. Photo supplied
Siblings both members of the YANA family

Comox Valley non-profit helped Geiger family on separate occasions

A second-floor balcony continues to smoulder after a fire extinguisher was used to get a small balcony fire under control at the Washington Inn Apartments. Brian Hayward, who lives on the third floor, was alerted to the fire by the smell of smoke wafting into his apartment. Photo by Brian Hayward.
Courtenay firefighters respond to balcony fire at Washington Inn Apartments

Firefighters were called out to the Washington Inn Apartments Sunday, April 17,… Continue reading

RCMP forensics investigators scour the site north of Highland School in Comox, where multiple people were stabbed during a party Saturday night, April 16. Photo by Terry Farrell
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Comox bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault near Highland Secondary

Cumberland is surrounded by trees — and logging. Its council is supporting a call to stop old-growth logging in vulnerable areas of the province such as Fairy Creek. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Cumberland backs request to save B.C.’s old-growth forests

The Comox Youth Climate Council is asking local governments to take stand

Danita Bilozaze and her daughter Dani in Comox. Photo by Karen McKinnon
Valley woman makes historic name change for truth and reconciliation

First in Canada to be issued new passport under the TRC Calls to Action

Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and vacation bookings are being increased in B.C. (B.C. government)
Out-of-region B.C. vacation bookings, RV ferry reservations to be refused

B.C. extends COVID-19 indoor dining, group fitness ban until May 25

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

Sunday’s storm rocked one of the ferries crossing Kootenay Lake. Photo: Dirk Jonker
VIDEO: Storm makes for wild ferry ride across Kootenay Lake

The video was captured by ferry employee Dirk Jonker

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
BREAKING: Toddler marks youngest British Columbian to die related to COVID-19

Child one of eight people to die from virus this weekend

Chakalaka Bar & Grill remains open in defiance of orders from Island Health to close. (Cole Schisler photo)
Island Health seeks injunction against restaurant defying COVID-19 orders

VIHA says Ladysmith-area Chakalaka Bar and Grill also violating water and sewer regulations

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is a independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. to target people ages 40+ in ‘high risk communities’ with AstraZeneca vaccine

A total of 13 neighbourhoods and communities will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine

Carver Ken Sheen had almost finished work on a large cowboy carving commissioned by the City of Williams Lake to replace the original overlooking the Stampede Grounds when fire broke out Friday, April 18 at his property between Williams Lake and Quesnel. (Pine River Carving Facebook photos)
Cow boss statue destined for Williams Lake Stampede Grounds goes up in flames

Carver Ken Sheen lost the statue, all his tools and his shop in the blaze

Most Read