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Black Montreal family complains of racial profiling on Air Canada flight

A Black family from Montreal is claiming racial discrimination after nine members were ejected from a flight to Florida in July.

Members of the Wright family said they were removed from the July 28 flight from at Montreal-Trudeau International Airport after telling staff their luggage had not been loaded in the cargo hold.

Keith Wright recounted the events at a news conference Tuesday, where he said that his daughter informed a flight attendant that the family's luggage had been left on the tarmac.

The pilot told passengers as the plane prepared to take off that not all luggage would make it on to the plane because of weight issues. Wright said he and his daughter tried to find a solution with flight attendants.

The plane then returned to the gate, and the two passengers were asked to disembark, without being told why.

"The supervisor came and started to call out seats… to get up and get off the flight, which created deep embarrassment. The whole flight, because we were sitting at the back, we had to be escorted to the front of the plane. Everybody saw what was going on," said Wright.

He said seven other family members -- ranging from age five to 60 -- were also asked to disembark the Orlando-bound plane, even though they had no interaction with flight personnel.

The family members instead drove to the U.S. in the middle of the night to catch another flight, narrowly arriving in time for their cruise.

The family says it plans to file racial profiling complaints with the Canadian Human Rights Commission. They'll do it with help from local anti-racism advocacy group CRARR -- the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations in Montreal.

The family said it also wants to receive financial compensation for what they say occurred.

Wright said the incident made him feel "deep disbelief and completely, deeply hurt as a human being that this was happening to me."

In a statement, Air Canada vice president Christophe Hennebelle confirmed that "that a group of passengers were deplaned from their flight to Orlando on July 28, 2023, following an incident onboard the aircraft."

"We deal with our customers directly and therefore will not discuss the details publicly of what led to this decision. However, these actions were taken only for the safety and well-being of our other customers and crew. Should a complaint on this matter be filed with the competent authorities, we will take the opportunity at that time to explain our decision," the statement read.

- With files from The Canadian Press Top Stories

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