Handcuffed Indigenous Grandfather and Granddaughter: Apology Ceremony Threatened
Maxwell Johnson and his granddaughter as they arrive at the press conference to announce the signing of the agreement with the Vancouver police, September 28, 2022.< /p>
The Heiltsuk Nation suggests that the apology ceremony and feast provided for in its agreement with the Vancouver police cannot take place without the presence of the two police officers who wrongfully handcuffed Maxwell Johnson and his granddaughter at a branch of BMO in Vancouver, December 2019.
The two events planned in the Bella Bella community on Monday evening are key elements of the agreement which includes, among other things, significant community investment by the police and the implementation of a collaborative policy-making process to address systemic racism among law enforcement personnel.
However, in a statement released Sunday, the nation says that the names of the two police officers at the heart of the case are not on the passenger list of the charter plane carrying the police delegation and due to arrive Monday morning in Bella Bella.
The non-participation of the two police officers will be interpreted as another symptom of the systemic failure [of police authorities] to recognize and take responsibility for systemic racism within the police force, explains the Heiltsuk nation in his statement.
Because Heiltsuk protocol does not allow one person to speak on behalf of another, a traditional apology ceremony cannot take place at unless the people who did the wrongs are present, adds the Heiltsuk Nation.
About 1400 people call the coastal community of Bella Bella home.
The x27; absence of Officers Wong and Tong would be another hurtful chapter in Maxwell Johnson's long journey to respond to the discrimination he and his granddaughter faced in December 2019, the Heiltsuk Nation writes.
“It will be extremely hurtful to me and my family if these Vancouver police officers do not show up for our ceremony [ Monday]. We were eager to be able to close the circle with them and thus turn the page on this affair.
— Maxwell Johnson
The Heiltsuk Nation still hopes that the two officers will attend and stresses that their invitation still stands. Two chairs are reserved for them, as well as time in the ceremony schedule for them to apologize.
At press time, Radio -Canada/CBC had not received a response to requests for comment sent to the Vancouver City Police Department on Sunday afternoon and Monday morning.