May 26, 2022 – 5:00 PM START
Location: Big House – 223 Wabalisla Street, Bella Bella
Nominations will be sought for:
Any elector who cannot be at the Nomination Meeting can nominate an eligible person in writing by completing the required Remote Nominations forms. All electors living off-reserve were mailed a remote nomination package to the last known address of record. They may be returned by email or Canada Post and the forms must be received by the Electoral Officer by 5:00PM, May 26, 2022.
Please see the below links for the official notice, nomination form and further details (including eligibility and instructions).
Voters will be able to cast a ballot in person at a polling station, by mail-in ballot or electronically. Remote Ballot packages offering the possibility to vote by mail or electronically will be sent to eligible electors ordinarily residing off reserve, to their last known address of record with the Nation. It is your responsibility to ensure your address is up to date; you may contact the Electoral Officer to update your address.
Regular Voting — July 12, 2022 — 8:00 AM TO 8:00 PM
Big House – 223 Wabalisla Street, Bella Bella
Advanced Voting — July 10, 2022 — 11:00 AM TO 7:00 PM
Hotel Chateau Granville – 1100 Granville Street, Vancouver
Please contact the electoral officer anytime for assistance with anything about the election process:
Electoral Officer: Ron Laufer Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mobile: 604-715-4777 P.O. Box 95015, Kingsgate, Vancouver, BC V5T 4T8
The term is up for:
Those remaining on Council are:
Settlement terms include payment of an undisclosed amount, artwork and territorial acknowledgement displays, and bank’s participation in private apology ceremony.
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA (May 5, 2022) – Heiltsuk First Nation members Maxwell Johnson and his 14-year-old granddaughter have reached a settlement agreement with the Bank of Montreal, whose representatives made a 911 call following suspicion that they had presented fraudulent Indigenous status cards while trying to open a bank account in 2019.
The call resulted in VPD officers attending the bank’s Burrard Street branch and publicly arresting and handcuffing Mr. Johnson and his granddaughter, who subsequently filed human rights complaints against the bank and the police. An earlier decision by retired judge Brian Neal, Q.C., released in April of 2022, found that the VPD officers committed professional misconduct and acted recklessly in their dealings with the grandfather and granddaughter.
Despite having now reached a settlement with BMO, Mr. Johnson closed his account today, with members of the Heiltsuk Nation gathering outside the bank to show their support.
“This ends our legal action against the bank for what happened to me and my granddaughter, but we are still in a healing process,” said Johnson. “Closing my account today is part of that process. While we appreciate the actions BMO has taken as part of this settlement and hope they will continue to educate themselves about Indigenous peoples and take actions towards reconciliation, this bank still triggers painful memories for me and my family.”
The terms of the settlement include the following:
“The Heiltsuk Nation could not be prouder of Max and his granddaughter for pursuing justice and making real and significant change in the fight against systemic racism,” said Marilyn Slett, elected Chief of the Heiltsuk Nation. “We will continue to support Max and his granddaughter in their healing journey, and we remain committed to working with all institutions who seek to make broader change to ensure this kind of incident never happens again.”
Mr. Johnson and his granddaughter’s complaint against the Vancouver Police Department at the BC Human Rights Tribunal remains ongoing.
To arrange interviews:
Police discipline authority finds officers committed professional misconduct; Heiltsuk Nation invites officers to visit Bella Bella to participate in apology ceremony.
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA (April 6, 2022) – Retired judge Brian Neal, Q.C., has decided VPD officers committed professional misconduct by recklessly arresting and handcuffing Maxwell Johnson and his 12-year-old granddaughter on December 20, 2019, while the two were trying to open a bank account for her at the Bank of Montreal.
Mr. Johnson and his granddaughter – members of the Heiltsuk First Nation – filed a complaint with the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner and the BC Human Rights Tribunal. They also filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal against the Bank of Montreal, which called the police.
On March 18, 2022, retired judge Brian Neal, Q.C., acting as a Discipline Authority for the Office of the Police Commissioner, decided the officers had committed professional misconduct by recklessly arresting and handcuffing Mr. Johnson and his granddaughter. He found that the granddaughter and grandfather presented no risk to the safety of any person and provided no concern for flight or unpredictability.
Neal also found that the officers acted recklessly and without any reflection, assumed fraud without sufficient information, did not take time to exercise judgment to assess if anyone was at risk, and assumed that handcuffing was appropriate without good and sufficient cause.
“I have found that the officers’ actions in arresting and handcuffing the parties was undertaken without reasonable and probable grounds. I have found that no reasonable police officer standing in the shoes of the two officers could support such actions based on suspicion alone. Furthermore, I have found that such actions demonstrated serious, blameworthy conduct contrary to section 77 of the Police Act,” wrote Neal in his decision.
Copies of Neal’s decisions are here:?
The tribunal ordered the officers be suspended for several days, that they complete intensive, immersive Indigenous cultural sensitivity training, and that they complete re-training on de-escalation skills, risk assessment, and power of arrest. The tribunal also ordered the officers to provide a written apology and offer to meet to listen to concerns and give an oral apology.
“We are inviting the officers to travel to Bella Bella to take part in an apology ceremony with Max, his granddaughter, and our community,” said Marilyn Slett, elected Chief of the Heiltsuk Nation. “This story has become a symbol of the fight against systemic racism, and we are committed to working with the officers to make broader change and ensure this never happens again.”
The decision does not decide the two outstanding human rights complaints against the VPD and the Bank of Montreal, and the officers have not yet admitted discrimination. But the decision contradicts the original position taken by VPD Chief Constable Adam Palmer that the officers engaged in “standard operating procedure.” The tribunal noted in particular that handcuffing Max’s granddaughter was inexcusable, and that the conduct confirmed concerns about police actions involving Indigenous people.
To arrange interviews:
Ng Ariss Fong | Lawyers
Ng Ariss Fong | Lawyers
Earlier this month, my son, Sharif Mohammed Bhamji, filed a human rights complaint against Canada’s second largest bank, TD. The bank refused to complete his application to open a bank account, because they didn’t believe he was, who he said he was.
My son is Indigenous and South Asian. He is a member of the Heiltsuk First Nation, and he is Gujarati, and a Muslim. To open an account, he brought his status card with him—valid government ID with his name and picture. TD told him his card was illegitimate and asked him to leave.
Did TD know status cards are a valid form of ID? Did TD judge Sharif on his appearance? His ethnicity? His religion? His multiracial identity? From my view, the answer is “yes” to all of the above.
How could this happen?
Unfortunately Sharif’s complaint is not an isolated incident. It is the tip of an iceberg of racism and othering that my multiracial family deals with every day. We live in a world where the dominant majority does not accept us for who we are because we don’t fit into their stereotyped expectations of racial identity.
I love my family. We’re unique. Our Heiltsuk and Gujarati families have always accepted and supported us, and our multiracial children are strong and proud. Yet they face racism on two fronts: First, they are Indigenous, so like me, they shoulder the legacy of the shameful, brutal treatment of our people by the colonizers. Second, my children are also brown. So, like their father, they face the same kinds of discrimination and racial stereotyping that come with living in a white-dominated society.
Their grandmother, my mom, was a residential school survivor who took her trauma to the grave. Her mistreatment didn’t end with residential school either. Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond’s report on systemic racism in the B.C. healthcare system, In Plain Sight, documents the kind of racist, discriminatory treatment by mom received during her last years. Her throat was permanently scarred by a misused ventilator, and she was dragged by her arms into an ambulance. As Indigenous people, this is the legacy that I, my children, and their children bear.
I’ve watched my kids grow up in a world that doesn’t understand who they are and won’t let them be. It starts with their names: Zuleika and Sharif. “Indigenous people have these kinds of names?” others seem to ask. They apparently can’t accept, even comprehend, the intersection of these different identities, and it all came to a head for Sharif at TD. They didn’t understand how someone with a Muslim name could also be Indigenous.
Sharif has told the media that the kind of treatment he got from TD happens to him every day, the moment he steps out the door, and I’ve seen it. One day I was finishing up shopping with Sharif and my granddaughter, Jasminah. Sharif went outside for a cigarette. He stood by our vehicle. A police officer pulled up to him and asked him who he was, what he was doing there, and if he was on probation.
When I walked over, the officer left. I called the police to follow up, but they told me they had no record of the incident. More recently, a white woman rammed her shopping cart into my daughter at a grocery store. My daughter told me she felt targeted. I reported the incident to the store. Nothing happened.
There are so many examples that they begin to meld together. You get used to them. You learn to live with them. We report what happens, and things stay the same. That’s why Sharif’s complaint against TD is so important. Sharif is saying enough is enough.
I’ve raised my children to speak out when things aren’t right. I pray that Sharif taking this stand will make him stronger. I pray that bringing awareness to these issues will empower others to stand up and speak out. We want people like us to know they are not alone. We have deep, strong connections to ancient and resilient cultures that give us the strength to know and be proud of who we are.
I raise my hands to all who support Sharif and other victims of discrimination, like Maxwell Johnson and his granddaughter, also members of the Heiltsuk Nation, who were arrested while trying to open a bank account at BMO in 2019. I raise my hands to those who take the negative in the world and try to make it a positive place to live, and to those who want to genuinely learn about each other.
To TD and institutions who claim to be committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, I ask you to practise what you preach. Let my children be. Understand that they are not a box to be checked, or a risk to be managed. Accept them for who they are: beautiful jewels in the multiracial mosaic of this country.
Paula Bhamji is the mother of Sharif Mohammed Bhamji, and a member of the Heiltsuk First Nation.
Complaint by TD customer who is Indigenous, east-Indian and Muslim seeks to hold bank responsible for systemic racism and make positive social change for BIPOC customers.
SURREY, BRITISH COLUMBIA (March 1, 2022) – Sharif Mohammed Bhamji is filing a Canadian Human Rights Commission complaint against TD for being denied service while trying to open a bank account.
Bhamji is a single father and a member of the Heiltsuk First Nation. He is also Muslim, and he lives in Surrey with his nine-year-old daughter. In May 2021, Bhamji tried to open a bank account at a TD branch in Clayton Heights near his home. When he presented his new Indian status card with his name and picture on it, the bank denied him service, claiming the card was fake. They also called the police, who later went to Bhamji’s house.
A video of Sharif telling the story about what happened to him has been posted to the Heiltsuk Nation’s YouTube channel here: https://youtu.be/raV_9yGibkQ
“I’m Muslim and east-Indian. I have a Muslim name. I’m also Indigenous,” said Bhamji. “But I can’t be both while banking at TD. I am filing this human rights complaint to seek justice for myself, my community, and everyone with cross-cultural heritage who doesn’t fit neatly into a certain identity checkbox. My daughter is Muslim and Indigenous too. I want her to have a better future.”
This is the second complaint in as many years filed against a bank by a Heiltsuk member for human rights discrimination. Maxwell Johnson and his 12-year-old granddaughter were handcuffed in Vancouver by police when Bank of Montreal reported that Johnson was fraudulently trying to open a bank account for his granddaughter. BMO suspected their ID was fake as well.
“TD had no reason to deny Sharif service, except that they didn’t think a status card with a Muslim name could be legitimate,” said Marilyn Slett, elected Chief of the Heiltsuk Nation. “From the Max Johnson case to this one, it’s clear that banks like TD still have a lot of learn. ‘Banking while brown’ can be a dangerous activity for BIPOC customers, and TD must take steps to ensure this never happens again.”
“TD Bank must take immediate steps to rectify this gross demonstration of blatant institutional racism,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC). “We stand with Sharif Mohammed Bhamji and his family during this difficult time and applaud them for taking this action. We cannot afford to stay silent in the face of such dangerous, hurtful and deeply traumatizing racist behaviour.”
The Canadian Human Rights Commission filing is available for download here:
High resolution interview footage and b-roll of Bhamji and his daughter in front of TD bank, and spending time in their neighbourhood, are available for download here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1YLFZFplz4CekbYeMjjfTyZggU81NW-XH?usp=sharing
To arrange interviews:
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip
Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC)
Counsel for Heiltsuk and Sharif Bhamji
Heiltsuk Tribal Council Communications