Twitter users erupt in wake of BMO apology for mistreatment of Indigenous girl and her grandfather

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      A major Canadian chartered bank has tried to calm widespread public outrage over a recent CBC News story.

      Reporter Angela Sterritt revealed that a BMO customer, Maxwell Johnson, and his 12-year-old granddaughter were detained by police and handcuffed when she wanted to open an account at the Bentall Centre branch in Downtown Vancouver.

      Johnson, a resident of Bella Bella, B.C., and his granddaughter reportedly used Indian Status cards for identification.

      A bank employee became suspicious of possible fraud because Johnson had $30,000 in his account. So someone at the bank called Vancouver police.

      This afternoon, BMO apologized for the incident, which occurred on December 20. 

      However, BMO's use of term "learning opportunity" has only led to more public anger over social media.

      "That's not how you spell mandatory Indigenous education and anti racism training for all employees," tweeted the Native Calgarian Podcast.

      Manitoba Métis woman Alanna Sanderson also questioned how the bank could use the term "learning opportunity".

      "How colonial of you," she tweeted. "Know who else used Indigenous people living in Canada for a learning opportunity? Those nice folks in South Africa who introduced us to apartheid."

      Another Twitter user declared that the bank seriously needed to learn how to apologize for traumatizing a 12-year-old, and that the bank should cover twice the cost the therapy to get the victims past the damage caused.

      Then there were these tweets from two well-known Indigenous residents of Vancouver:


      On January 10, Vancouver police Chief Adam Palmer defended his officers' actions during an interview with CBC News.

      Palmer said that a call came in saying that a South Asian male and a 16-year-old South Asian female were in the process of committing fraud. He added that the officers, who came from diverse communities, acted in good faith and were not racist.

      The officers handcuffed Johnson and his granddaughter and put them in a police vehicle until the ascertained that no crime had been committed.

      On January 10, people who were outraged by the arrests demonstrated outside and inside the BMO branch.

      Video: Watch APTN's coverage of a demonstration outside and inside the BMO branch at the Bentall Centre in Vancouver.