Canada's indigenous individuals settle with Bank of Montreal over rights complaint

Two individuals in Canada from an indigenous group reached a settlement with Bank of Montreal over a human rights complaint that arose from them being handcuffed in 2019 when they tried to open an 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 the bank's staff looked at the pair's identification documents and called police to report an alleged fraud.


Reuters | Updated: 05-05-2022 23:48 IST | Created: 05-05-2022 23:48 IST
Canada's indigenous individuals settle with Bank of Montreal over rights complaint

Two individuals in Canada from an indigenous group reached a settlement with Bank of Montreal over a human rights complaint that arose from them being handcuffed in 2019 when they tried to open an 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 the bank's staff looked at the pair's identification documents and called police to report an alleged fraud. Johnson and his granddaughter were using government-issued Indian Status cards, his birth certificate and her medical card. He said the bank staff became suspicious of their identity and thought they were presenting fake identification cards.

The settlement reached on Thursday includes an undisclosed monetary payment, a private apology ceremony to be held in Bella Bella and the display of traditional territory plaques at the bank's branches, the Heiltsuk Nation said in a statement. The bank did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It has previously said it regretted the situation and created an Indigenous advisory council while also conducting cultural sensitivity training with its 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 a healing process," Johnson told the media on Thursday.

"Closing my account today is part of that process. While we appreciate the actions BMO has taken as part of this settlement and hope they will continue to educate themselves about Indigenous peoples and take actions towards reconciliation, this bank still triggers painful memories for me and my family."

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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