Bank of Montreal, located on Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver. (Google Maps)

BMO sets up advisory council after Indigenous man, granddaughter handcuffed at B.C. branch

The council will provide input on training and policies at the Bank of Montreal

The Bank of Montreal says it has created a special council to help train its employees in wake of nationwide backlash after an Indigenous man and his granddaughter were handcuffed at a Vancouver branch when trying to open an account.

Fifty-six-year-old Maxwell Johnson, a member of Heiltsuk Nation, went to open an account for his 12-year-old granddaughter in Vancouver on Dec. 20. But both Johnson and the girl ended up in handcuffs after the bank called police to report what they thought was a fraud in progress.

ALSO READ: First Nations leaders slam handcuffing of elder, 12-year-old granddaughter at bank

No charges were laid, but the incident has sparked a number of rallies by the public for what the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs has deemed as racial profiling, as well as an investigation by the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner.

The financial institution’s CEO, Darryl White, said in a news release Thursday that the new Indigenous Advisory Council will include people from Indigenous communities across the country to provide input on policies and practices in line with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.

ALSO READ: B.C. First Nation calls probe into arrest of Indigenous man at bank ‘woefully inadequate’

“People are disappointed and angry with us, and I don’t blame them. Part of building a truly inclusive culture involves being honest with ourselves when we fall short of those standards,” White said. “An Indigenous customer was not treated with the respect or trust that BMO customers deserve. He entered our branch to open an account for his granddaughter and they were escorted out by police. This is unacceptable.”

He added that bank tellers and other banking staff face strict legal requirements and have to make decisions without entire pieces of information. And while “the vast majority of the time we get these decisions right,” he said, “we simply should not have called the police, regardless of the circumstances.”

The council includes one First Nations chief from B.C., Patrick Michell of the Kanaka Bar Indian Band. Other members include:

  • Regional Chief, Roger Augustine of the Assembly of First Nations in New Brunswick
  • Minister Anita Campbell of the Manitoba Métis Nation
  • Chief Terry Paul of the Membertou First Nation in Nova Scotia
  • Chief Darcy Bear of Whitecap Dakota First Nation in Saskatchewan
  • Kevin Chief, Principal of Chief Partnerships Manitoba Inc.
  • Chief Don Maracle of Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte in Ontario
  • Chief Ouray Crowfoot of Siksika Nation in Alberta

In addition to the council, the bank will be rolling out a new mandatory training requirement for all senior staff in the company, with a focus on the history and legacy of residential schools, Treaties, and Aboriginal rights.

But in a statement released later in the afternoon, Heiltsuk Nation said the banking institution needs to start speaking more closely with the nation’s leaders.

“While today’s announcement would normally be a good first step, it’s hard to put weight on this advisory council because it has been assembled so quickly – it feels very much like a reactive gesture or public relations effort,” the statement read.

“BMO and their new IAC need to reach out to Heiltsuk, so that we know there will be concrete actions to implement the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and substantial efforts made to improve relations between Indigenous peoples and financial institutions. Foremost though, they need to stop denying what actually happened. That’s the only way to move forward.”


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

South Okanagan real estate market adjusting to ‘new normal’

Numbers are up in March; however, industry insiders say the market has cooled

Not all receive COVID-19 aid from federal government

Summerland woman does not qualify for federal assistance during COVID-19 pandemic

Law enforcement will patrol shuttered campgrounds in Cascades this weekend

Patrols will enforce provincial order requiring all such facilities remain closed during COVID-19

Campfires still permitted in Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen

Restrictions have been implemented elsewhere within valley

Summerland parks remain open for passive use

Users urged to maintain physical distancing to slow spread of COVID-19

COVID-19 death toll reaches 50 in B.C., while daily case count steadies

B.C. records 34 new cases in the province, bringing total active confirmed cases to 462

Public warned to stay away from algae bloom near Herald Park in Shuswap Lake

Interior Health states that people, pets should not drink the water in the area or touch the algae

B.C. unveils $5M for mental health supports during the COVID-19 pandemic

Will include virtual clinics and resources for British Columbians, including front-line workers

South Shuswap residents criticize upgrades to Balmoral Road/Highway 1 intersection

Reliance on frontage roads and narrow underpasses near Blind Bay not good enough

B.C.’s COVID-19 rent supplement starts taking applications

$300 to $500 to landlords for April, May and June if eligible

COVID-19: No more international flights at Kelowna International Airport

All international flights at YLW have been suspended, airport to operate just nine flights a day

B.C.’s top doctor details prescription for safe long weekend

Yes, it includes hosting an online cooking show

BC SPCA seeks help for abandoned German shepherd puppies

Donations have ‘petered out’ as doors are closed due to COVID-19

Reality TV show about bodybuilders still filming in Okanagan amid COVID-19

Five bodybuilders from across the country flew to Kelowna to move into a house for a reality TV show

Most Read