An Indigenous man in Canada has launched two human rights complaints after he and his 12-year old granddaughter were arrested and handcuffed as they tried to open a bank account.

Maxwell Johnson, a member of the Heiltsuk Nation, visited a Vancouver branch of the Bank of Montreal in December to open an account for his granddaughter Tori-Anne.

But bank staff did not believe the two were Indigenous after failing to verify the authenticity of their government-issued Indian status cards. Staff were also suspicious about the size of a deposit in Johnson’s account, prompting an employee to call the police.

In a transcript of the call to police, released by the Heiltsuk Nation, bank staff alleged the two were committing fraud, telling police the two had presented “fake” identifications. The employee also told the dispatcher that Johnson and his granddaughter were “South Asian”.

“It gets so tiring trying to prove who you are as a First Nations person,” Johnson told the Canadian Press.

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