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Response to Theft in SJC

Community Update

Over the past few months, the SJCNL has faced one of the most significant challenges in the history of the organization. On March 5, 2023 the SJCNL Board notified its members, donors, and community partners that there had been a theft of our collective funds. This theft has seriously damaged the organization's capacity to attain our vision and meet our goals , as we have had to lay off our staff and halt funding important projects, such as our activity funds and mutual aid work. This theft has also laid bare serious oversights in the organization's governance and raised important questions and concerns about how policies are followed and decisions are made.

As we have come together to face this challenge head on, we have been doing our best to center our values through this process, as outlined in the Revolution of Care. This means reclaiming care, by building a movement centered on compassion and kindness that gives space to heal, learn, and grow, and to use a collaborative, cooperative, consensus-based, decentralized approach to decision-making.

 

In the spirit of the Revolution of Care, we held three meetings in April to share information about the crime that occurred and hear from members, donors, and community partners on how to move forward collectively. The board has carefully collected this information and is preparing a multi-faceted approach to responding to this feedback that considers the restitution of lost funds, strengthening financial and governance oversight, reparation of harm with community members, and developing a culture of accountability for the organization.

 

As part of this approach, the board held a Special Members Meeting to vote on the creation of three committees that will support the organization's response. As a member-owned co-operative, we wanted to be true to our democratic values and ensure that the proposed path forward is supported by our members. The board is also looking for volunteers to join these committees and help us weather this storm. We were so heartened to have more than 100 members, donors, and community partners attend March's meetings and we are hoping that folks will come aboard to help us steer this ship to a safer place.

 

At the Special Member's Meeting held on May 2, 2023, the following committees were approved:


 

Finance Committee

Terms of reference:

  • Develop a financial oversight policy that will be presented at Special Member's Meeting.

  • Maintain financial oversight based on policy. 

  • Co-chaired by 2 members. Min 3 members and maximum 7 including only 1 board member and 1 representative of each organization/team with which we hold funds in trust. Only members and representatives on committee.

     

Fraud Investigation Committee
Terms of reference:

  • Review bookkeeping, get exact figures for funds owed by the individual (including going through her receipts) and funds held in trust.

  • Write an incident report

  • Co-chaired by 2 members.  Min 3 members and maximum 7 including only 1 board member. Only members on committee. The board member on the fraud investigation committee cannot sit on the finance committee.

     

Transformative Justice Committee
Terms of reference:

  • To meet with the individual and develop and deliver a restitution plan.

  • To propose ways to support a culture of accountability

  • Co-chaired by 2 members.  Min 3 members and maximum 7 including 1 board member. Only members on committee.

At the Annual General Meeting in September 2023, the committees provided updates on their activities and a financial oversight policy was approved by members.

Finance Committee

  • Finalized Financial Oversight Policy for the board to use. This is meant to be a living document and will be reviewed yearly. The document can be downloaded here.

  • Proposed a few changes to the Treasurer's roles in the SJC by-laws, that were approved at the AGM.

  • The next phase of the committee will be to prepare a Treasurer's Handbook, which will go into details on all the duties of the Treasurer and how they can best be conducted.

  • Following this work, the committee will continue to review monthly Treasurer's reports as indicated in the Financial Oversight Policy and  meet as required.

Fraud Investigation Committee

  • Identified 5 key initiatives and plans to have deliverables ready by the next AGM in Spring 2024. These initiatives are:

  • “Retroactive Financial Reporting”

  • “Diagnosing Past Inaccurate Financial Reports”

  • “Detailing incident timelines”

  • “Root Cause Analysis”

  • “Recommendations”

Transformative Justice Committee

  • Preparing a plan on how to move forward. Focus right now on trust building within the committee and ensuring that no one is harmed doing this work.

  • Are working with the Community Justice Connects program with the NL Human Rights Association to help guide their work.

  • Have taken part in training sessions on transformative justice and will be hosting a few sessions to teach the SJC community about transformative justice in the Fall/Winter.

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