UBCIC News Release: Independent Review of the VPD’s Arrest of Maxwell Johnson and Granddaughter Confirms the Reckless, Oppressive, and “Blameworthy” Conduct of Arresting Officers

News Release

April 8, 2022

Independent Review of the VPD’s Arrest of Maxwell Johnson and Granddaughter Confirms the Reckless, Oppressive, and “Blameworthy” Conduct of Arresting Officers

(Xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil Waututh)/Vancouver, B.C. – April 8, 2022) The Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) welcomes and supports the findings of the independent review of the 2019 arrest of Maxwell Johnson and his granddaughter, both members of the Heiltsuk First Nation, at a Bank of Montreal branch by Vancouver police. The review concluded that the officers arrested and handcuffed the pair “without reasonable and probable grounds.” Furthermore, former Justice Brian Neal who conducted the review wrote that the arrests “demonstrated serious, blameworthy conduct contrary to section 77 of the Police Act.”

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, UBCIC President, stated “Back in 2019, Maxwell Johnson and his granddaughter, Tori-Anne, were subject to an appalling and traumatizing display of racism for trying to do what every Canadian citizen is entitled to do without discrimination: open a bank account.” He continued, “The fear, racism, and trauma they experienced has its roots in Canada’s colonial history of institutionalized discrimination and violence towards Indigenous peoples. The independent review has confirmed what we all know: the two police officers acted oppressively, recklessly, and without regard for the welfare, safety, and human rights of two people who were profiled and subject to excessive force for being Indigenous. This is unacceptable and immediate steps must be taken to restore justice and ensure Mr. Johnson and his granddaughter are given reparations for the immense fear, trauma, and humiliation they were subjected to.” 

“UBCIC previously wrote an open letter to the Vancouver Police Board condemning actions and inadequate, superficial responses of the VPD and BMO to the deplorable racist and dangerous misconduct carried out by the two officers,” stated Chief Don Tom, UBCIC Vice-President. “The review affirms that the police officers acted recklessly, arresting Mr. Johnson and his granddaughter without ‘good and sufficient cause’ and with ‘unnecessary force.’ These findings contradict the initial investigation launched by the Delta police who concluded that disciplinary action against the officers was not warranted. The injustice committed against Mr. Johnson and his granddaughter must be rectified and UBCIC calls for immediate and fulsome disciplinary action to be taken against the two police officers, as well as immediate and systemic change in policing in Vancouver.”

“To be racially profiled and criminalized is deplorable but is sadly a lived reality for many racialized communities including Indigenous peoples,” stated Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, UBCIC Secretary-Treasurer. “Mr. Johnson and his granddaughter’s case must be used as a learning lesson: institutions must be held accountable for their racist misconduct and their labelling and mistreating people as ‘threats’ or ‘criminals.’ We cannot allow police and banks to continue being colonial agents who show callous disregard for the lived experiences of Indigenous peoples and the generations of racism they have endured. The Union of BC Indian Chiefs will continue to stand with Mr. Johnson and his granddaughter and we hope the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal hears from them, and the UBCIC as an intervenor in that proceeding, about the need for systemic accountability for these kinds of human rights violations against First Nations in British Columbia.  For their courage, we applaud their resilience, bravery and strength.”


Media inquiries:

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President, 250-490-5314

Chief Don Tom, Vice-President, 250-813-3315

Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Secretary-Treasurer, c/o 604-842-2977


UBCIC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

For more information please visit www.ubcic.bc.ca

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