Missing Women charity head says controversy unfair judgment

Cover story published in 24 Hours Vancouver | October 30, 2013 | Circulation: 280,000+

The director of a Downtown Eastside non-profit is challenging allegations he owes money to people who did work for the missing women’s advocacy group.

In an exclusive interview with 24 hours, Sean Kirkham defended his work with the Canadian Foundation for Creative Development and Innovation, a Vancouver organization laying plaques on stones to remember the city’s missing women.

Allegations made by other foundation members in a CBC story earlier this month said Kirkham was defrauding the organization, a charge he insists is only based on his past criminal history.

“My criminal past is something that I am frank, open and honest about,” he said. “It doesn’t define who I am, as long as I acknowledge my mistakes.”

Kirkham pleaded guilty this month to eight unrelated fraud allegations in Montreal dating back to 2007 and will be sentenced in January, but has no charges outstanding in British Columbia.

In the CBC report Michael Matthews, a former board member of the foundation, said Kirkham hadn’t paid him for work he’d done and didn’t pay the maker of the memorial stones.

“Where that (money) went to?” Matthews told CBC news Oct. 17. “No one else saw the cheques, that’s what I deal with, with Sean.”

Contacted today by 24 hours, Matthews stood by his original statements and has recently put up a blog post accusing Kirkham of stealing money from the organization.

Kirkham insists all funds raised went back into the society and maintains he is being unfairly judged, adding he is simply trying to make amends for his past behaviour.

“There was no monkey business on my end over this,” Kirkham said, adding that he disputed several unpaid invoices and was not ripping people off. “There was no fraud involved.”

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