St. Albert TD Canada Trust denies accusation of racial profiling

TD Canada Trust denies staff at a St. Albert branch are guilty of racial profiling after an incident last week when police were called over fears of a robbery may be taking place.

Poundmaker's Lodge said aboriginal clients were at the bank on business when police called

Jim Brule, Poundmaker's Lodge chairman and executive director Brad Cardinal speak with reporters Monday. (Gareth Hampshire/CBC)

TD Canada Trust denies staff at a St. Albert branch are guilty of racial profiling.

Staff at the TD branch on Hebert Road called police Friday just before 2 p.m. after a customer reported two people outside the bank talking about the bank's security alarm.

Three RCMP cars arrived, and after establishing there was no threat, departed after a few minutes.

The two people turned out to be clients of Poundmaker's Lodge, an addictions treatment centre in St. Albert that uses First Nations traditions, culture and spiritual beliefs in its counselling programs.

"We are very sorry that this misunderstanding caused any trouble or embarrassment for the individuals involved," said Alicia Johnston, with TD Corporate Communications.

"We have had a great relationship with Poundmaker's Lodge over the years and truly value the work they do in the community."

Brad Cardinal, Poundmaker's executive director, said six clients and a staff member were at the TD Canada Trust to do banking and there was no discussion about the alarm.

"It's unfortunate that they didn't take the time to thoroughly investigate and were rather reactive to the whole circumstances.

"Had they merely looked outside they would have noticed that it was one of their customers, i.e. Poundmaker's Lodge, parked right outside their building with several clients standing outside."

He accused bank staff of racial profiling.

"What makes this incident abhorrent in our community is the assumption of guilt, the utter lack of respect given to our clients and to our employee."

TD rejects the allegation, saying the staff person who called police was unaware of anybody's race.

Johnston said the bank has publicly apologized for what it claims was a misunderstanding and tried reaching Cardinal over the weekend, but the calls were not returned.

She said representatives from the bank dropped by Poundmaker's offices Monday morning, but were asked to leave. 

Cardinal said he's received no apology and had he received a telephone message, he would have encouraged further discussion. 

"If the intent is sincere, we encourage the representatives from TD Canada Trust and the RCMP to come with proper traditional protocol and sit down with our clients and staff member that were in the vehicle and listen to how this incident affected them."

​Poundmaker's Lodge announced Monday afternoon it will close its accounts with TD Canada Trust and continue to demand an apology.