Indigenous B.C. man, granddaughter settle with BMO over arrest while opening account

VANCOUVER – A British Columbia Indigenous man and his granddaughter who were arrested as they tried to open an account at the Bank of Montreal have settled a human rights complaint.

A statement says the settlement agreement includes a monetary payment from BMO to Maxwell Johnson and his granddaughter, a private apology, and a pledge from the bank to update its policies on how Indigenous status cards are handled.

Johnson and his granddaughter, who are from the Heiltsuk First Nation, were trying to open an account when police were called over suspicion they were using a fake status card.

A retired judge who led a disciplinary hearing against the two arresting officers said in a decision released last month that they “recklessly” arrested Johnson and the girl, who were held and handcuffed on a busy street in front of the bank.

Johnson announced the settlement today in the same location he was arrested, adding that he would also be closing his account.

He says it’s been a difficult journey getting to this point, advocating for himself and his family, and he hopes institutions and the public educate themselves about Indigenous culture.

The man and his granddaughter still have a complaint pending against the Vancouver Police Department in the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 5, 2022.

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