The mayor of Vancouver says he “felt sick” when he learned that an indigenous grandfather and his 12-year-old granddaughter were handcuffed after trying to open a bank account at BMO last month.
Vancouver police acknowledged that the duo did nothing wrong, and the police and BMO issued statements apologizing for the way the incident was handled.
In its initial statement after the incident, BMO said “although there were some extenuating circumstances, they do not excuse the way we handle the situation.”
The bank continued with another apology saying that it deeply regretted the incident, that “it was not representative of who we are”, however, it has not yet accepted an interview on camera.
On Monday, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart said the incident will be reviewed at the next police board meeting on Thursday.
“The board will receive a detailed briefing at our next meeting, where we will decide the next steps, including the full review and understanding of the policies and procedures that led to this deeply regrettable situation,” Stewart said in a statement.
“What is clear at the moment is that no young person doing anything as innocent as opening their first bank account should be put in this situation.”
The incident occurred on December 20, when Bella Bella’s Maxwell Johnson took her granddaughter to the BMO branch in Burrard Street to open her first bank account.
Johnson says he and the girl provided an ID, including Indian status cards. A BMO employee told him that “one or two numbers did not add up,” then he took out the cards from the office to verify them, he said.
Instead, the couple were told that there were discrepancies with their status cards, then they were told to wait in an office. The police arrived shortly after, when the duo learned that they were being accused of fraud.
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The couple was handcuffed and detained while the police investigated, eventually determining that fraud had not occurred and apologizing to both at the scene.
Since then, Vancouver police said the bank provided officials with incorrect information in a 911 call that reported an ongoing fraud, including the description of the couple as being from South Asia, and the 12-year-old girl About 16 years.
In his statement, Stewart said he and Palmer both feel bad “about how the misleading information provided by BMO staff led the officials who responded to take action they did.”
Stewart added that Palmer has also “made efforts” to directly contact and apologize to Johnson, and asked the bank to “do the right thing” for the family, “take full responsibility for their actions” and ensure that the situation does not return to happen.
On Monday, BMO referred to its statements last week and said it would have more to say in the coming days.
In a statement last Friday, the company said it was working with its resource group for indigenous employees and other indigenous stakeholders to implement the call to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to improve its corporate activities and policies.
He said he is also creating an Indigenous Advisory Council in association with “several bosses across Canada.”
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