On Friday, December 20, 2019, a trip to the bank resulted in the detention and handcuffing of a 12-year-old girl and her grandfather after they tried to open an account at a Bank of Montreal in Vancouver. The BMO arrest came as a disappointment to some, including Mayor Kennedy Stewart. Now, the Vancouver Police Department is undergoing an external investigation into their conduct concerning the arrest.

Maxwell Johnson and his 12-year-old granddaughter entered the bank where he'd been a customer since 2014. He wanted to open an account for her. Instead, they left the bank in handcuffs.

The bank employee had contacted police, claiming that Johnson and his granddaughter had attempted to commit fraud. They were suspicious of the couple's use of Indian Status Cards as ID, CBC reported.

"Officers confirmed the identity of the two individuals and confirmed that no criminal activity had occurred," reads a statement from Vancouver Police.

"We recognize that this entire situation has been upsetting and distressing for the two individuals. Based on the initial call, our officers conducted an investigation and cleared the individuals of any wrongdoing," continued the statement.

Vancouver mayor Kennedy Stewart tweeted that the incident made him feel "sick." In a press release on Monday, January 13, Stewart expressed his apologies to Johnson and his granddaughter.

He is currently discussing the incident with the police board and police chief Adam Palmer.

"I will do everything I can to make sure this never happens again," Stewart wrote.

The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner (OPCC) announced they will be investigating the Vancouver Police Department's (VPD) conduct regarding the incident.

As an outside agency, the Delta Police Department has been asked to perform the investigation.

"The OPCC became aware of the matter through media reporting and complaints from the public," reads a press release by the OPCC. "As this matter is under investigation no further information will be released at this time."


BMO released a public apology on January 10 in which they wrote: "We deeply regret it and unequivocally apologize... We have developed strong relationships with Indigenous communities over a long period of time, supported Indigenous initiatives, and are committed to doing more."

Some responses to the tweet criticize the employee's actions and BMO's apology.


Johnson believes the employee was suspicious about the $30,000 he had in his account, a sum paid to every member of the Heiltsuk Nation as part of an Aboriginal rights settlement package.

The community will be holding a healing ceremony on Tuesday, January 14 in support of Johnson and his granddaughter. The event will be taking place at the Britannia Community Centre at 1661 Napier Street in Vancouver.


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