COVID-19 relief fundraiser for Blood Tribe under review
GoFundMe says no matter what happens, the money raised in a Blood Tribe fundraiser is safe. (Supplied)
STAND OFF, ALTA. -- A GoFundMe campaign, which purportedly aimed to raise money for COVID-19 masks for the Blood Tribe is under investigation.
The campaign Kainai Nation COVID-19 Mask Donation Project has been removed from the online crowdfunding platform, after officials were informed the campaign was not authorized by the group.
The Blood Tribe administration says it's unsure of the connection between the campaign's organizer, Sophy Kaplan of Fresh Meadows, New York, a community located about 3,800 km from Stand Off, Alta.
By the time the donation page was shut down and the investigation was launched, it had raised about $200.
Blood Tribe Communications provided the following statement:
The Blood Tribe Administration appreciates the generous donations received from our partners, surrounding communities and our own community members during these difficult times of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last night, Blood Tribe officials were alerted to a specific account requesting funds that was shared on social media. The appropriate authorities were promptly notified, and an investigation is currently underway. Once we know the details we will then determine how to proceed and provide an update to our membership.
In the text connected to the campaign page, Kaplan appealed for funds “as soon as possible” stating “the quicker we raise the money, the quicker we are able to send the masks and abate the spread of COVID-19."
A spokesperson for GoFundMe said their team was in the process of connecting with the campaign organizer. In a statement provided to CTV News, GoFundMe explained the process involved when a project is created on behalf of another individual or group.
"When funds are raised, they are held by our payment processor and only released to the person or group named as the beneficiary."
GoFundMe confirmed the funds donated so far are being safely held and will only be released to the Blood Tribe. If they choose not to accept the money, it will be refunded to donors.
The Blood Tribe Department of Health said as of Thursday, there were 15 cases of COVID-19 among Blood Tribe members, including 10 active cases.