Sandy Bay CFS head fired after allegations of financial irregularities

The head of Sandy Bay First Nation’s child welfare agency has been fired after financial irregularities were discovered, the Southern Chiefs’ Organization alleged Wednesday.

Richard De La Ronde, who served as executive director of the Sandy Bay Child and Family Services for several years, has been terminated, the organization said.

Forensic auditors are looking into RADKA, a company owned by De La Ronde that has been receiving prepaid rent from the Children’s Special Allowance fund to build CFS offices that are not complete. The child welfare agency’s headquarters in Sandy Bay First Nation burned down in 2019.

The Southern First Nations Network of Care, which oversees First Nations child welfare agencies, took over administration of Sandy Bay Child and Family Services in June, after it noticed financial issues. An audit is being done by Grant Thornton LLP, the Southern Chiefs Organization said in an email on Wednesday. 

The child and family services agency is running a deficit and work is being done to correct that. Part of that work includes stopping payments on two personal credit cards belonging to De La Ronde and his wife, the email said.

Auditors provided a preliminary report to the Southern First Nations Network of Care in August, with an interim report to be delivered in the coming weeks, the email said.

CBC News could not immediately reach De La Ronde for comment.

Impact on children in care

On Tuesday, the Southern First Nations Network of Care gave a public update on the audit that outlined just a few of the alleged irregularities, said Randal Roullette, a Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation councillor.

“It’s kind of unsettling,” he said about what they’ve found so far. 

“We’re right in the thick of it, right in the middle of the investigation. Thank goodness to the Southern Network of Care coming to provide support for us. We’re going to be working very closely with them to make sure we take back control of our agency.”

The First Nation is also doing its own review of the child welfare agency, Roulette said. The files will be handed over to police, he said.

Roulette is worried about the children who are in care.

“Obviously if there’s no money to be providing certain services for the children, the services are going to suffer,” he said.

“It’s going to put the agency in a situation where they’re going to be in debt for a very long time.”

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