Following a fraud detection by Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) employees, two Heiltsuk Nation members in Canada were handcuffed when they attempted to open an account with the bank in 2019. On Thursday, they settled their civil rights complaint.
It was announced in a statement by the Heiltsuk Nation that the settlement includes an undisclosed monetary payment, a private apology ceremony, and the posting of traditional territory plaques at the bank’s branches.
The two were held outside the Bank of Montreal’s Vancouver branch in December 2019 after a Bank of Montreal employee inspected Maxwell Johnson and his 12-year-old granddaughter’s identification cards and called police to investigate possible fraud.
Johnson and his granddaughter both had government-issued identification to prove their Native American heritage, including their respective Indian Status cards, birth certificates, and, in the case of the granddaughter, a health card. According to him, when the bank employees became suspicious of their identities and suspected that they were presenting false identity cards, they confiscated their belongings and took them away.
However, even though Johnson’s and his granddaughter’s legal case against the bank has been settled, Johnson told reporters on Thursday that his family was still in the midst of a healing process.
“We are pleased that we have been able to resolve with Mr. Johnson and his granddaughter,” the bank stated in a statement. We hope that the Johnson family will finally find the peace and closure they deserve as a result of BMO’s efforts to bring about reconciliation.
As previously stated, the company regrets the current circumstances and the inability to further develop.
It is vital to establish an indigenous advisory council as well as cultural sensitivity training for its staff.
Johnson chose to close his bank account, even though he had received compensation.
“That’s why I’m logging out of my account right this second. While my family and I appreciate the initiatives of BMO as part of this settlement, and we hope that they continue to educate themselves about Indigenous peoples and take measures toward reconciliation, this bank still brings up bad memories for my family and me.”