Human rights complaints have been filed by an Indigenous grandfather who was arrested at a Vancouver bank while trying to open an account for his granddaughter last year.

On Monday, lawyers for Maxwell Johnson announced complaints had been filed with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal, as well as with the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal in connection with the Dec. 20, 2019, incident at a Vancouver Bank of Montreal branch.

Johnson is a member of the Heiltsuk First Nation in Bella Bella.

In December of last year, Johnson visited a Downtown Vancouver BMO with hopes of helping his then-12-year-old granddaughter Tori open an account. Instead, the pair were questioned about their government-issued Indian status cards and police called for what the bank believed was a fraud in progress.

Police then handcuffed the pair and had them wait on the sidewalk outside the bank for 45 minutes before they were released, after police confirmed no crime had been committed and their identification was valid.

A transcript of the police call and a police report from the incident were also released Monday.

Together, the documents and complaints highlight how Johnson’s mental health has been impacted by the experience during and since, and how the sight of his granddaughter in handcuffs brought to mind the traumatic history of residential schools.

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