Monday, November 23, 2020

Heiltsuk members file Human Rights Complaints against Bank of Montreal and Vancouver Police related to December 2019 incident at Vancouver branch

An incident at a Vancouver bank in December of 2019 that capture wide attention is back in the spotlight today, after lawyers for Maxwell Johnson and his 12 year old grand-daughter announced that they have filed Human rights complaints against both the Bank of Montreal and the Vancouver Police Department.

As part of their filing, the lawyers have released a transcript of the 911 call and a redacted Vancouver Police Report, both which the lawyers allege shows evidence of systemic racism.

Mr. Johnson and his grand-daughter were the principles in the situation of December 2019 when while attempting to open a bank account for his grand-daughter, the pair were detained and handcuffed after Mr. Maxwell had used his Indian Status card as identification at the branch.

The treatment of the two by both the bank officials and members of the VPD became a prominent story once word was released that the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner had launched an investigation in the December incident.

In February, the incident was raised in the Legislature by North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice, who outlined some of the particulars and made note of a purification  ceremony for Mr. Maxwell and his family in Bella Bella.

Both are members of the Heiltsuk Nation and today Chief Councillor Marilyn Slett outlined how it is the Indigenous Nation's belief that the incident must be considered racial profiling and systemic racism.

“From the BMO manager deciding our members didn’t belong, to the 911 call to police, to the cuffing, detention and questioning of Max and his granddaughter about how they came to be at the bank, this was a clear case of racial profiling and systemic racism. Max and his granddaughter deserve justice for the pain this incident caused, and BMO and the VPD must take steps to ensure this never happens again.”

For his part, Mr. Johnson is looking for accountability and a sense of justice for his family, community and First Nations.

“Human rights tribunals need to hold institutions accountable for systemic racism,Visible minorities are under constant threat of racial profiling by organizations, and discrimination by police. We are filing these human rights complaints to seek justice for our family, our community, and First Nations, and so that other people of colour can feel safe.”

More background on the Complaints filing  documentation related to it can be reviewed from the Heiltsuk First nation website.

More notes on the provincial political scene can be explored from our archive page.

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