The BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres is suing its former executive director, alleging he gave himself payroll advances or loans totalling $48,136 without the association’s knowledge.
The allegations come in a notice of civil claim, filed in B.C. Supreme Court on Nov. 1 by the association, an umbrella group for friendship centres throughout the province.
Such centres serve as Indigenous community hubs, offering culturally safe programs and services, and provide space to share cultural knowledge.
Signed by lawyer Geoffrey Litherland, the claim alleges Paul Lacerte, a 2014 Order of British Columbia recipient, arranged a loan in 2010 to himself for $45,136.95 relating to personal expense items and other monies.
In January 2011, Lacerte had an unauthorized payroll advance of $3,000, court documents show.
Lacerte retired from his employment with the association in May 2016 without disclosing his debts, the claim continues.
The situation came to light in 2018 and 2019, when the association hired an accounting firm to review transactions and expenditures by previous managers.
“The association demanded that Lacerte repay the debts, however Lacerte has failed or refused to make this repayment,” the claim says.
The suit seeks repayment, damages for breach of fiduciary duty, damages for unjust enrichment, general damages, special damages and interest.
The association also seeks payment of legal and accounting costs.
The claim says Lacerte is now managing partner of Raven Indigenous Capital Partners (RICP).
His RICP biography says he's the former vice-chair of the Vancouver Foundation board of directors, the former board chair for Reconciliation Canada and a former representative to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
Messages left for Lacerte with RICP have not been returned.