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

Ktunaxa, supporters celebrate protection of Qat’muk and the Jumbo valley

Speeches, acknowledgements and ceremonies mark an emotional gathering in Cranbrook

Jumbo Valley to be protected, ending decades-long dispute over proposed ski resort

Development rights permanently retired for site of proposed year-round ski resort west of Invermere

City of Kimberley no longer using electricity to thaw frozen water lines

With temperatures dropping, the potential for frozen water lines increases. The City… Continue reading

McCormick to deliver ‘State of the City’ address February 5

Kimberley Mayor Don McCormick will present his annual address on the state… Continue reading

Kimberley’s Lloyd Steeves and Donna Briggs named Volunteers of the Year with Alpine Canada

The duo are the driving force behind ski racing in Kimberley.

Kimberley Skating Club hosting East Kootenay Invitational this weekend

The competition is underway at the Kimberley Civic Centre until Sunday afternoon.

After cashing in on QB gambles, Chiefs and 49ers to clash in Super Bowl

KC beats Tennessee, San Francisco dispatches Green Bay to reach NFL title game

B.C. VIEWS: Few clouds on Horgan’s horizon

Horgan’s biggest challenge in the remainder of his term will be to keep the economy humming along

Victoria family focuses on ‘letting go, enjoying time together’ after dad gets dementia

Walter Strauss has developed an interest in music and now takes line dancing classes

B.C. forest industry grasps for hope amid seven-month strike, shutdowns, changes

Some experts say this could be worse for forestry than the 2008 financial crisis

Northern B.C. RCMP investigating alleged sexual assault in downtown Smithers

One person was transported by ambulance to hospital following RCMP investigation at Sedaz

UBC, Iranian-Canadian community create memorial scholarship in honour of victims

The Jan. 8 crash killed 176 people, including 57 Canadians

Disrespectful that Horgan won’t meet during northern B.C. tour: hereditary chief

Na’moks said he was frustrated Horgan didn’t meet with the chiefs

Hwy 3 to close for avalanche control on Jan. 19

The road is expected to be closed from noon to 3 p.m.

Most Read