Former employees say final Street Culture Project report ignores those who left non-profit

Publish Date : 2021-01-29


Former employees say final Street Culture Project report ignores those who left non-profit

© Matt Howard/CBC The board of directors for Street Culture Project has received the final report stemming from a third-party investigation launched in the summertime to examine extensive allegations against members of management and others connected to the organization.
The results of an investigation launched months ago that examined alleged wrongdoing by people associated with Street Culture Project, a Regina non-profit, has been submitted to the organization's board of directors for review. 

Former employees have brought forward concerns about the complaint intake process and the scope of the investigation, and the board has confirmed it does not intend to release the report publicly. 

A third-party investigator was hired in August after allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour emerged against the executive director — who then apologized and resigned. Allegations started to emerge on social media against other staff members. The CEO retired and the shelter manager was fired. 

ACBC News investigation published in August revealed allegations of 16 former or current employees who said several members of management fostered a toxic, abusive, manipulative or inappropriate work environment for years.

Board chair Cassandra Klassen said members will meet Friday to discuss the report and to create a timeline for implementing recommendations — and a plan to remain accountable to them. Once next steps are determined, she said they will release a summary of the report's findings  but won't release it in full, citing personal details. 

Former employee wasn't contacted by investigator
Two former employees have raised concerns about the scope of the investigation and say the report should be made public to ensure accountability. 

The complaint intake website said the lawyer would "investigate complaints about the conduct of individuals (staff, volunteers, board, etc.)"

But one former employee, who CBC has agreed not to name, filed their complaint and wasn't contacted for the investigation until after the first version of the report was completed. 

"I was told later on by the investigator that only current Street Culture staff were to be interviewed, that was part of Street Culture's request," the former employee said.

Klassen said in an email that "the board will not be commenting on who was interviewed at this time." 

The former employee said ex-employees and youth — who played a pivotal role in bringing allegations to light — feel silenced. They said it also felt like a waste of time "rehashing trauma" by submitting their complaints, only to find out it wasn't a priority. 

Former employee Samantha Bird, who was involved with the organization for years and went public with her allegations, said it feels like Street Culture Project is disregarding the larger picture and ignoring that many people left the organization because of a toxic culture.

She questions how the culture can change if that information is not prioritized. 

The two former employees have little confidence the non-profit board will address all of the harm if the results of the investigation aren't made public. 

"They're a publicly-funded organization. They're accountable to the public [and] trying to keep this investigation internal is just not appropriate," said the former employee, adding people need to know the extent of the allegations. 

Delays in investigation
The third-party investigation was supposed to conclude in November. Klassen said the board received a report from the investigator in December, but learned the investigator had not reached all complainants. 

"We could not make any final decisions until we were sure we heard from everyone, and were sure we had all relevant information," Klassen said in an email, adding they asked the investigator to reach out to more people. 

"Despite numerous attempts by the investigator, several complainants declined to be interviewed, as is their right to decline. The investigator now has talked to all who agreed to be interviewed," Klassen said in her response. 

Bird said the board would be better off reflecting on why people were afraid to speak up rather than casting hints of blame.  

"These people are scared. Whether it be their livelihood or their history with the organization or what it would do to their reputation," Bird said. 

Past attempts to raise allegations of misconduct within the organization allegedly were ignored or laughed off. On the complaint website, the investigator said she would recommend the board take no retaliation against staff who participate and that it implement a "whistleblower" policy.

The former employees say they are also concerned that the former executive director and the CEO were also not focused on in the investigation since they are no longer with the organization. They women say the organization is diminishing "years of trauma and abuse" without acknowledging allegations against them.

Bird also takes issue with how management and board have moved forward following the allegations. In August and September, the board made promises to repair and heal the workplace culture. Interim CEO Scott Cruikshank acknowledged again in November the importance of reparations after employees wrote an open letter to management.

But months after the problems were raised, people are still waiting for acknowledgement. 

"They're constantly referring to this reparation process that hasn't even started yet, and the abuse of silencing is continuing because months later people who have been fighting this head-on have not seen any positive results," Bird said. 

The other former employee agreed. 

"We all had to reopen our trauma and then nothing happens out of it, it's just part of revictimization. We had to rehash some very painful things and we're still waiting, we're in limbo," they said.  "They've never actually taken accountability for what's happened." 

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© Matt Howard/CBC The board of directors for Street Culture Project has received the final report stemming from a third-party investigation launched in the summertime to examine extensive allegations against members of management and others connected to the organization.
The results of an investigation launched months ago that examined alleged wrongdoing by people associated with Street Culture Project, a Regina non-profit, has been submitted to the organization's board of directors for review. 

Former employees have brought forward concerns about the complaint intake process and the scope of the investigation, and the board has confirmed it does not intend to release the report publicly. 

A third-party investigator was hired in August after allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour emerged against the executive director — who then apologized and resigned. Allegations started to emerge on social media against other staff members. The CEO retired and the shelter manager was fired. 

ACBC News investigation published in August revealed allegations of 16 former or current employees who said several members of management fostered a toxic, abusive, manipulative or inappropriate work environment for years.

Board chair Cassandra Klassen said members will meet Friday to discuss the report and to create a timeline for implementing recommendations — and a plan to remain accountable to them. Once next steps are determined, she said they will release a summary of the report's findings  but won't release it in full, citing personal details. 

Former employee wasn't contacted by investigator
Two former employees have raised concerns about the scope of the investigation and say the report should be made public to ensure accountability. 

The complaint intake website said the lawyer would "investigate complaints about the conduct of individuals (staff, volunteers, board, etc.)"

But one former employee, who CBC has agreed not to name, filed their complaint and wasn't contacted for the investigation until after the first version of the report was completed. 

"I was told later on by the investigator that only current Street Culture staff were to be interviewed, that was part of Street Culture's request," the former employee said.

Klassen said in an email that "the board will not be commenting on who was interviewed at this time." 

The former employee said ex-employees and youth — who played a pivotal role in bringing allegations to light — feel silenced. They said it also felt like a waste of time "rehashing trauma" by submitting their complaints, only to find out it wasn't a priority. 

Former employee Samantha Bird, who was involved with the organization for years and went public with her allegations, said it feels like Street Culture Project is disregarding the larger picture and ignoring that many people left the organization because of a toxic culture.

She questions how the culture can change if that information is not prioritized. 

The two former employees have little confidence the non-profit board will address all of the harm if the results of the investigation aren't made public. 

"They're a publicly-funded organization. They're accountable to the public [and] trying to keep this investigation internal is just not appropriate," said the former employee, adding people need to know the extent of the allegations. 

Delays in investigation
The third-party investigation was supposed to conclude in November. Klassen said the board received a report from the investigator in December, but learned the investigator had not reached all complainants. 

"We could not make any final decisions until we were sure we heard from everyone, and were sure we had all relevant information," Klassen said in an email, adding they asked the investigator to reach out to more people. 

"Despite numerous attempts by the investigator, several complainants declined to be interviewed, as is their right to decline. The investigator now has talked to all who agreed to be interviewed," Klassen said in her response. 

Bird said the board would be better off reflecting on why people were afraid to speak up rather than casting hints of blame.  

"These people are scared. Whether it be their livelihood or their history with the organization or what it would do to their reputation," Bird said. 

Past attempts to raise allegations of misconduct within the organization allegedly were ignored or laughed off. On the complaint website, the investigator said she would recommend the board take no retaliation against staff who participate and that it implement a "whistleblower" policy.

The former employees say they are also concerned that the former executive director and the CEO were also not focused on in the investigation since they are no longer with the organization. They women say the organization is diminishing "years of trauma and abuse" without acknowledging allegations against them.

Bird also takes issue with how management and board have moved forward following the allegations.



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