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

The COVID-19 outbreak at the two Coastal GasLink workforce lodges has officially been declared over. (Lakes District News file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Coastal GasLink worksites declared over

In total, 56 cases were associated with the outbreak in the Burns Lake and Nechako LHAs

Brett Alexander Jones is wanted on several warrants province-wide, in connection with multiple charges. Jan. 21, 2021. Kitimat RCMP photo
Kitimat RCMP searching for man wanted on several warrants province-wide

Jones is described as a five-foot 10-inches Caucasian man, with blond hair and blue eyes.

Lake Babine Nation closure sign
Lake Babine Nation issues COVID numbers update

Urges members to follow provincial health orders

NH representative confirmed that people who received their first dose will be scheduled to receive their second dose within the recommended timeframe.(The Canadian Press/Nathan Denette photo)
Vaccine rollout abruptly halted in Lakes District

Northern Health cites Pfizer shipment delays for the vaccine distribution disruption

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death in North Saanich likely B.C.’s first in for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

Kimberly Proctor, 18, was murdered in 2010. Her family has spent many of the years since pushing for a law in her honour, that they say would help to prevent similar tragedies. (Courtesy of Jo-Anne Landolt)
Proposed law honouring murdered B.C. teen at a standstill, lacks government support

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions has concerns with involuntary detainment portion of act

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Most Read