An Indigenous woman accuses BMO of using reconciliation as a “sales trick” after she said she was harassed and told to leave by security at the Portage and Main branch twice a month.
Vivian Ketchum, a 57-year-old residential school survivor, said it was, ironically, a sign outside the bank’s main branch at 201 Portage Avenue, promoting reconciliation that prompted her to enter Sept. 27 following a dentist. appointment.
Almost immediately, Ketchum said, she was approached by security, who asked if she was there to do banking. When she replied that she wasn’t, but was considering changing banks, they asked her to leave.
“Maybe he thought I was drunk, because I was cursing my words the first time, and I was staggering a bit, but I’m having trouble with my leg and my mouth was frozen,” he said. she declared. “I wasn’t drunk. I had just sold my condo and was thinking about changing banks… I didn’t deserve to be treated that way.”
She was upset after she left and returned inside, where she said she tried to speak with an employee, but a security guard intervened and she left.
In an attempt to rectify the situation, she scheduled a meeting about 10 days later to discuss the incident with the branch manager. As she sat on a sofa in the lobby awaiting her date on October 9, she was shocked when the same security guard approached and asked her to leave.
“Maybe he thought I was drunk, because I was cursing my words the first time, and I was staggering a bit, but I’m having trouble with my leg and my mouth is frozen.”
– Viviane Ketchum
Ketchum said the branch manager called her as she walked away from the building, asked her to come back and apologized, but she did not receive an apology from the security guard .
She received a cup of coffee and a BMO gift bag with candy inside.
“How many times do I have to be kicked out before (the security guard) is released? And if he behaved that way with me, how many times did he do this to other Natives who have no voice? ” she said.
“I’m angry that they are using healing reconciliation as a sales gimmick. That’s all it is, a sales gimmick – not working towards a better relationship with indigenous people.”
BMO last year apologized for an incident in British Columbia after a 12-year-old Indigenous girl and her grandfather were handcuffed as they tried to open an account at a Vancouver branch. At the time, a human rights complaint was filed and BMO Financial Group created an Indigenous Advisory Board in response.
“I’m angry that they are using healing reconciliation as a sales gimmick. That’s all it is, a dash sales trick; does not work for a better relationship with indigenous peoples.
– Viviane Ketchum
National Center for Truth and Reconciliation Director of Studies and Research Brenda Gunn said that while the process of educating and changing people’s attitudes will take time, responsibility must come from corporate leadership. to ensure the process is a consistent top priority.
“It is important for companies not only to provide cultural skills training with their staff and employees, but to really make sure that they are changing the systems within their company to really take anti-racism seriously. “she said.
“By that I mean we have to make sure that cultural competence is seen as a difficult skill, in job applications we have to make sure that performance appraisals include these skills and ensure that complaints are taken seriously. ”
Ketchum said she is speaking out about what happened in the hope that BMO will make changes and to make it clear that no matter how hard a company pushes, its actions can be detrimental to the people they care about. ‘she claims to support.
“I am a residential school survivor, and words appeal to me. And the actions of the security guard, unfortunately, put the walls back in place, ”she said.
” ” We’re listening ” ; there’s a big poster on how they’re going to listen and so forth, but they’re not following the talk. ”
The incident occurred three days before thousands took to the streets of Winnipeg and across Canada on the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
“I thought there would be a breakthrough, a healing reconciliation, and I was so disappointed,” she said.
“I’m not hurt, I’m angry. I’m angry that this has happened. Reconciliation means a lot to me – it’s not just a word.”
“We are committed to treating all of our customers with fairness, dignity, sensitivity and respect. We regret that this experience has occurred.”
– Email from BMO Financial Group spokesperson
A spokesperson for BMO Financial Group said the bank first learned of the incident from the Free press On Monday.
“We are committed to treating all of our customers with fairness, dignity, sensitivity and respect,” he wrote in an email.
“We regret that this experience took place.”