October 13, 2023

(xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh)/Vancouver, B.C.) The First Nations Leadership Council (FNLC) is shocked, appalled and deeply outraged by the decision of the National Parole Board to release Robert Riley Saunders on day parole. The FNLC has condemned the decision and has called for an immediate reversal of the decision.

Saunders was a social worker in Kelowna, BC, who over a period of six- and one-half years stole $460,000 that was intended to go to vulnerable Indigenous youth. Saunders was convicted and sentenced to five years imprisonment.  At the time of his sentencing, the FNLC called the sentence too lenient.

The National Parole Board decision comes just 14 months after Saunders started what was supposed to be five years in custody. The Parole Board acknowledged that the youth suffered as a result of the thefts, but that didn’t seem to factor significantly in its decision.