Following audit and RCMP investigation, YWCA Agvvik looks to overhaul exhausted board

'We have a board of directors who have been through a very, very challenging year and for different personal reasons are not going to continue.'

'The most important thing is to keep these shelters open,' says president

The president of the YWCA Agvvik Nunavut board, Heather Daley, says the board has implemented the majority of recommendations from a forensic audit of the organization. (David Gunn/CBC)

The YWCA Agvvik Nunavut is looking for new board members. In fact, they are looking for an entirely new board.

It has been a long year for the previous board, with a forensic audit into its finances, the termination of its executive director due to conflict of interest, and an ongoing RCMP investigation into allegations of financial mismanagement.

"We have a board of directors who have been through a very, very challenging year and for different personal reasons, are not going to continue," said Heather Daley, president of the YWCA Agvvik board, who is also moving on from her role in the organization.

The audit gave recommendations to improve financial control of operational practices, and Daley said the majority of them have been addressed.

"We've improved policies and procedures, financial controls. We've hired a new bookkeeper," she said. 

"We have some outside legal counsel giving us advice on better procurement practices."

In May 2017, CBC News received leaked documents that indicated the YWCA Agvvik had been scrutinized by its own auditor for how the organization managed its finances.

The documents, including a letter from Lester Landau Chartered Accountants, raised concerns over additional payments to staff, and how staff had been reimbursed for expenses which appeared to be "personal in nature."

The Nunavut government then launched a forensic audit into the organization.

'Blindsided' by allegations

YWCA Agvvik, which is based in Iqaluit, provides emergency shelter services to victims of domestic abuse, and does counselling and outreach work.

It received nearly $2 million in public funding in its 2015/16 fiscal year, most of which came from the Government of Nunavut.

Daley said an interim executive director and new shelter manager are doing great work.

"The most important thing is to keep these shelters open," she said.

YWCA Agvvik has been rebuilding since the audit was launched. Since then, Daley said staff have improved their relationship with Nunavut's Department of Family Services and received support from YWCA Canada and YWCA Yellowknife.

There is a lack of capacity for boards in Nunavut, Daley said, so volunteers are spread thin and often rely heavily on the executive director. In this case the former executive director hired her family and the board had no idea, Daley said.

"A lot of what happened kind of blindsided us. We didn't know and I can't really talk about details because there is a criminal investigation ongoing," she said.

Daley said the board is looking for at least three to four new members and they need to be willing to put in the time to learn the ropes.

"Yes, we've improved all the policies and practices, but now they have to be delivered on," she said. 

"You need people who are willing to take the time to understand."

New board members will be voted in at the March 22 annual general meeting. People interested can email ed@ywca-agvvik.org