VANCOUVER – A B.C. Supreme Court judge has ruled a widower is liable for repaying nearly a quarter million dollars his wife stole from the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority before she died.Court documents show Wanda Moscipan worked as an administer for both the authority and the University of B.C.’s faculty of medicine when she siphoned more than $574,000 from the authority between 2003 and 2011.Justice Leonard Marchand ruled this week that the health authority is entitled to be paid back both by her estate and her husband, who was found to be responsible for the portion of the stolen funds that were used as “a family expense.”In the ruling released online Wednesday, Marchand says her husband, Miroslaw Moscipan, must have had “constructive” knowledge that his wife was receiving funds through fraudulent means.Moscipan told the court he was a stay-at-home parent “who led a frugal life.”He said his wife was secretive with the family finances but he thought she made over $100,000 per year and received money from her father.Marchand’s decision says the family led a “richer lifestyle than a typical family of four or five” owning multiple vehicles and spending about $20,000 a year on transportation alone.The judge says the restitution on the part of her husband “is adequate to send a message to others that they do not stand to benefit from the misdeeds of others when they know or ought to know of ill-gotten gains.”The decision says the woman stole the funds “by having busy physicians sign blank cheque requisitions” that she directed to an account she controlled.The account had been created in 1994 to raise funds related to the death of a colleague within the department, but was otherwise dormant until she began using it for fraudulent purposes in 2003.She then used money in the account to pay herself, her husband and their son as well as write cheques for outstanding Visa balances held in their names.The woman began working at the university in 1974 as a junior assistant and was appointed as senior administrator for the departments of obstetrics and gynecology under both the university and health authority in 1997. She was described as “extremely helpful” and viewed as “an indispensable and central figure” in the department.The health authority was responsible for 80 per cent of Moscipan’s income while the university made up the rest.After her cancer diagnosis in 2010, a new department head, Dr. Geoffrey Cundiff, became suspicious of her activities when she decided to continue working evenings despite having medical benefits. Her actions in the following months continued to raise suspicions.“In one case, he had to hire a locksmith to access human resources and financial records which were in a locked filing cabinet. Ms. Moscipan claimed the key to the cabinet had been lost,” the decision says.An audit was ordered in 2011, and it was discovered that Moscipan was paying herself 80 per cent of a full-time salary from the university when it should have only been 20 per cent.It was also discovered she received a three per cent raise, which Cundiff testified he did not authorize.A meeting was called between both employers and her union.“Ms. Moscipan justified being paid 180 per cent of the salary of a full time employee on the basis that she worked so hard but acknowledged Dr. Cundiff was unaware of the amount she was paid.”She was fired and a separate lawsuit has been filed by the university.
BANFF, Alta. — Marie-Eve Marchand and Tanealle Shade stand on a grassy knoll in Alberta’s Banff National Park hoping to catch a glimpse of the bison herd.As they look at a small warden’s cabin, Marchand raises her binoculars to Divide Pass.“They’re there, they’re there,” she says.Marchand, who was part of the Bison Belong campaign to bring the animals back to Banff, looks a few more times to make sure she’s not imagining things, then passes the binoculars to Tanealle.“I just froze and just a little tear ran down my face,” says Tanealle, 15. “I never thought I’d see the day when we had free-roaming buffalo.“They’re home.”The herd of wild plains bison, which was reintroduced in the park in 2017, has been free to roam in 1,200 square kilometres of backcountry on the park’s northeast side for the past year.“They are incredibly adaptable,” says Karsten Heuer, manager of the park’s bison reintroduction project.“For them to come back after a 140-plus year absence and integrate and adopt the landscape to the extent that they have has really been rewarding to witness.”Most of the 36 animals have stuck together, other than three lone bulls that are off on their own.Marchand puts her fingers to her ears — mimicking bison horns — and quietly says “buffalo” to alert others in the group. They walk over and take turns with the binoculars. Others shed tears as they spot the herd, which included two new calves.The group of women is one of the first to see the herd since they were brought back to Banff, but their trek was far from easy.They met at the Bighorn campground on a Saturday evening to get organized for a week-long trip into the rugged backcountry.They hitched a wagon ride to the park boundary with a local outfitter, hiked more than 65 kilometres, carried more than 20 kilograms of weight on their backs and crossed numerous creeks in their quest to find the bison.All the while, they saw signs: a bison wallow, bison tracks on the trails, fresh bison dung.Each of the women on the backcountry hike have a connection to bison — or buffalo, as they are traditionally known by Indigenous people.Tanealle’s grandfather, Leroy Little Bear, is involved with the Buffalo Treaty, an agreement between First Nations in the United States and Canada to protect and restore bison herds in the wild.Kansie Fox, an environmental protection manager, and Diandra Bruised Head, a climate change co-ordinator, work with the Blood Tribe or Kainai First Nation in southern Alberta.Fox says they are working to bring buffalo back on the reservation as a way to connect Blackfoot people to their history.“I just wanted to be a part of it to see if we could join forces in whatever we are trying to do in order to support the buffalo coming back,” she says.It felt like a dream to see the buffalo in the Rockies, she says.“We’re so used to seeing them out on the plains and to see them here in the mountains is so cool,” says Fox.Bruised Head says she was looking for a place to make a tobacco offering when the bison were spotted.“It left me speechless,” she says. “They are my relatives, they are my cousins, they are what connect me to my ancestors. It was almost sacred seeing them, even in the distance, letting them be wild.”Glinis Buffalo, a member of the Samson Cree Nation south of Edmonton, says she’s always wanted to see buffalo in the wild.“It took me a second to see them, but then when I spotted them, I actually just put the binoculars back down because I was actually kind of shocked,” she says. “I couldn’t even stare at them for more than a second.”She says it was a beautiful sight to see these “tiny specks of brown” off in the distance.“It made me think about when my ancestors, who would hunt, and that’s probably what they would see,” she says. “So this is how they felt when they spotted a herd of buffalo to go hunt.’”Heuer says he’s heard from five different groups that have attempted to see the bison in the Banff backcountry.“It’s not a super easy place to access,” he says. “Even if you do go back there, everything has to come together for you to actually see the animals. They are quite ghost-like a lot of the time, despite their size.“It’s a pretty massive, complex landscape to find them in.”Marchand says she had her doubts about whether the group would see the bison, but she had a good feeling.“I can’t believe how lucky we were,” she says. “But we believed it — and we did it.”Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press