Justice for Max & Torianne!
Max Johnson and his grand-daughter Torianne were racially profiled and handcuffed after trying to open a bank account at a BMO branch in Vancouver.
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Maxwell Johnson and his 12 year-old granddaughter, Torianne, are members of Heiltsuk Nation in BC’s Central Coast. Max is a Heiltsuk artist and the legal guardian for Torianne. He was one of the artists who painted the front of Heiltsuk’s Big House. They live in Bella Bella, which is the main reserve for Heiltsuk Nation.
During a family trip to Vancouver, a Heiltsuk grandfather was helping his granddaughter Torianne open a bank account. A Band of Montreal customer himself, Max wanted Torianne to have a bank account so that he could transfer money to her when she was away playing basketball in All Native tournaments. When an employee of the bank called 9-11 in response to suspicions of fraud, the complainants were brought out onto a busy downtown sidewalk, separated from one another, handcuffed, and searched.
Now, Max & Torianne have launched a human rights case to hold the VPD accountable for the systemic racism they perpetuate.
On Dec. 20, 2019 Maxwell Johnson and his 12 year-old granddaughter, Torianne, were racially profiled and handcuffed after trying to open a bank account at a BMO branch in Vancouver. When an employee of BMO called 9-11 in response to suspicions of fraud, the complainants were brought out onto a busy downtown sidewalk, separated from one another, handcuffed, and searched.
Maxwell and Torianne were detained and handcuffed and made to stand on the corner of a busy intersection while interrogated by the VPD Constables and the other VPD police officers.
In response, Heiltsuk Tribal Council launched two human rights complaints. The BC Human Rights Tribunal case is aimed at Vancouver Police Department. It seeks accountability for institutional racism.
The Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) is filing an application to intervene in Max and Torianne Johnson’s B.C. Human Rights Tribunal complaint against the Vancouver Police Department.
- the Constables detained Maxwell and Torianne without any reasonable basis for investigative detention;
- the Constables handcuffed Maxwell and Torianne without any reasonable basis to have a concern for the Constables’ safety;
- the Constables had no reasonable basis for handcuffing Torianne, who was 12 years old;
- although the Constables referred to “fraud”, the Constables failed to provide Maxwell and Torianne information allowing them to understand the nature of the fraud for which were detained, or to make an informed decision about exercising their right to counsel;
- the Constables performed pat-down searches, and a search of pockets and bags without any reasonable basis or authority for such searches.
The goal of the human rights complaint is to hold the Vancouver Police Department accountable for racial profiling and systemic racism, as well as to secure compensation to Max and Torianne. The complainants are seeking:
- A Declaratory order that the respondents' conduct was discriminatory and contrary to the Code;
- That the Vancouver Police Board (VPB) and Vancouver Police Department (VPD) increase and improve ongoing cultural competency training, including with regards to systemic racism, discrimination against Indigenous people and Indian status cards;
- That the VPB and VPD provide a public apology to the complainants, Morgan and the Heiltsuk Nation;
- That the VPB and VPD pay compensation for injury to dignity, feelings and self respect for each of the complainants.
View human rights complaints, complaint responses, and related documentation for Max and Torianne Johnson's cases:
What happened to Max and Tori was terrible and shocking, but unfortunately it was just one example of the spectrum of racism Indigenous people face in Canada everyday.
Whether it’s being denied service at a restaurant, being followed by security guards in a grocery store, or being made the subject of racist jokes and slurs by staff, Indigenous people, and other people of colour, experience racism on a regular basis.
These seemingly isolated incidents connect to much deeper patterns of colonial violence and systemic racism against Indigenous people, including Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and the recent forced removal of Wet’suwet’en people from their homelands. This racism dates to the creation of Canada itself and continues to the present day.
It is all connected, and it must stop now.