Nanaimo’s only warming centre investigating ‘misappropriation’ of funds

Nanaimo's only warming centre investigating 'misappropriation' of funds

A Nanaimo society that helps the city’s most vulnerable has confirmed it is investigating a “possible misappropriation” of funds and has identified the person they believe is responsible.

The investigation led to the closure of the Society for Equity, Inclusion and Advocacy (SEIA) on Monday, after the organization laid off most of its employees last week.

“We are deeply saddened by the turn of events which have led to the current suspension of services at SEIA,” the society’s board said in a statement to CHEK News. “We are investigating a possible misappropriation of SEIA funds and we have identified an individual we believe is responsible. That person is no longer active in the organization and the RCMP are involved.”

The SEIA board says the situation has left the community organization in financial difficulty, leading to the current closure of its offices. Even so, the board says they will continue serving those in need.

“We are working with other community organizations to fill gaps in services and to redirect in-kind donations to ensure our clients have adequate clothing, blankets and supplies,” the statement reads.

READ MORE: Shutdown of only warming centre in Nanaimo leads to ’emergency response’ by community

The sudden closure of the warming centre left many with no place to go during the first snowfall of the season. The gap was filled by a community pop-up warming centre run by advocacy group Rise Bridge on Tuesday, who put up a tent across from SEIA’s closed warming centre, with portable fire pits, warm clothing and hot coffee.

Some of SEIA’s laid off workers also volunteered, standing in the doorway of the centre, handing out clothing and lunches.

“To our staff and volunteers, we are grateful for the commitment, passion and dedication you bring to SEIA. You are the lifeblood of our organization,” reads the statement from the board. “The fact that many of you have continued to show up and volunteer your time to support SEIA and our community is profoundly moving.”

The board is asking the public to consider making donations to SEIA so they can get their staff back to work and resume operations.

READ MORE: Society that helps Nanaimo’s vulnerable faces a theft investigation

Jasmine BalaJasmine Bala

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