The story of an Indigenous man and his 12-year-old granddaughter who were placed in handcuffs while trying to open a bank account made Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart feel sick, and he’s vowed to do everything he can to make sure something like that doesn’t happen again.
Stewart issued a statement via Twitter Monday afternoon, saying he’s doing a full review of the police policies and procedures that led to this outcome.
“I find it unacceptable that the Bank of Montreal turned what should have been a positive occasion into one that reinforces our colonial past,” Stewart said. “I am sad for the long-term impacts this may have on the child, her family, and the broader community.”
On December 20, Heiltsuk Nation member Maxwell Johnson went to the BMO branch on Burrard Street to open a bank account for his granddaughter. Bank staff suspected the pair of fraud and called the police.
Officers arrested Johnson and the girl, placing both of them in handcuffs. After gathering more information, officers determined no fraud had occurred and released the pair, Vancouver Police Department Sgt. Aaron Roed told Daily Hive.
BMO has apologized about what happened.
Mayor Stewart is chair of the city’s police board and said he’s disappointed by the misleading information bank staff gave police and echoed VPD Chief Adam Palmer’s apologies to the family.
At the board’s next meeting, Kennedy said they will conduct a briefing and decide on next steps to ensure an incident like this one doesn’t happen again.
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“No young person doing something as innocent as opening their first bank account should ever be put in this situation.”
You can read Stewart’s full statement below:
I felt sick when I heard about how BMO staff treated a grandfather and granddaughter opening a new account at their Burrard branch. Since news broke, I have been engaged in discussions with the police board and Chief Palmer. Here is my full statement, more to come. #vanpoli pic.twitter.com/0VGNh2oN5l
— Kennedy Stewart (@kennedystewart) January 13, 2020