Manitoba woman gets 4 years in prison for defrauding First Nations child welfare agency

Agency filed insurance claim to recover some of the stolen cash

Shawenim Abinoojii was swindled out of more than $1 million by an employee. Photo: Facebook

A woman will serve four years in prison for stealing more than $1 million from a First Nation foster care agency.

Gwendolen Reid, 47, pleaded guilty to one count of fraud over $5,000 in a Winnipeg courtroom Tuesday.

Additional counts of fraud, theft and forgery were stayed.

Reid was the manager of finance at Shawenim Abinooji Ltd., a Winnipeg organization that provides home placement and support worker services to Southeast Child and Family Services.

Court was told she used the money for trips, furniture and gambling after siphoning off the funds between March 3, 2016 and Jan. 29, 2019.

Fraudulent cheques

Reid was charged by Winnipeg police in February 2020 after the agency contacted them about fraudulent cheques totalling $743,110, fraudulent payroll transactions totalling $222,432, and unauthorized credit card charges and cash advances totalling $42,000.

Not much of the $1,007,542 was recovered, police said in announcing her arrest.

Reid was sentenced to prison this week and ordered to repay the money.

Shawenin Abinooji Ltd. (SAI) executive director Jason Whitford said the agency filed an insurance claim to help recover some of the financial losses.

But the crime took a serious toll on its budget and staff members, he said.

The “investigation process have been a very challenging experience for the SAI organization…although SAI programming and services have maintained a high level of standard,” he told APTN News in an earlier statement.