Indigenous peoples of Canada settle with Bank of Montreal over rights complaint
Two people in Canada from an Indigenous group have reached a settlement with the Bank of Montreal over a human rights complaint that stemmed from their being handcuffed in 2019 while trying to open a account with the bank, after its staff alleged fraud.
Maxwell Johnson and his 14-year-old granddaughter, both members of the Heiltsuk Nation in Bella Bella, British Columbia, were handcuffed outside a Bank of Montreal branch in Vancouver after bank staff examined the the couple’s identity documents and called the police to report an alleged fraud. Johnson and her granddaughter used government-issued Indian status cards, her birth certificate, and her medical card. He said bank staff became suspicious of their identities and believed they were presenting fake IDs.
The settlement reached Thursday includes an undisclosed monetary payment, a private apology ceremony to be held at Bella Bella and the display of traditional territory plaques at bank branches, the Heiltsuk Nation said in a statement. The bank did not immediately respond to a request for comment. He has previously said he regrets the situation and created an Indigenous advisory council while conducting cultural sensitivity training with his staff.
Despite the settlement, Johnson decided to close his account with the bank. “This ends our legal action against the bank for what happened to me and my granddaughter, but we are still in the process of healing,” Johnson told media on Thursday.
“Closing my account today is part of that process. While we appreciate the steps BMO has taken on this settlement and hope they will continue to learn about Indigenous peoples and take action toward reconciliation, this bank still brings up painful memories for me and my family.”
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