This Article is part of the Citizenship and Immigration Reporting Project special report See the full report

Canada's bureaucracy still denies citizenship to children of soldiers

More than 170,000 people from around the world become citizens in Canada every year after entering the country as immigrants. Meanwhile, because of antiquated legislation, the government denies people born to Canadian parents and those who have lived here half their lives, full rights of citizenship.  This is the first story in a ten-part series about an injustice that may outlive a number of its victims.

Jackie Scott in a video by Darren Fleet

"Why can't they see I'm Canadian?"

Jackie Scott opened up her father's war record and showed it to a reporter.

Scott, 65, spends six months each year in an R.V. park next to the American border in Surrey, BC. A slight, competent woman with graying red hair and a deeply lined face, Scott has the courteous demeanor of a Canadian. 

On her living room table two cups of coffee, a plate of muffins and napkins stood waiting. She sat down by the window and held in her hands a collection of documents: a well-kept photograph of her father as a soldier, her mother's naturalization certificate, letters from the Canadian government, copies of Canada's immigration and citizenship acts and pictures of her Canadian born daughter and grandchildren.

An imposing 20-foot grey wall looking as if it were picked from a West Bank settlement in Israel and placed on 176th street encircles the West and South sides of the park. The symbolism of this situation is hard to ignore. Jackie, daughter of a Canadian soldier and a British-born mother naturalized as a Canadian citizen in 1955, learned she was a ‘visitor’ in Canada in 2005, when after applying for a citizenship card in order to get a passport, she received a letter from the government saying she was not Canadian.

After 9/11, a certain group of Canadians got a rude awakening. When Canadians suddenly needed passports to travel between here and the U.S., Citizenship and Immigration Canada turned their applications for passports and proof of citizenship cards down. It wasn't because they were security threats. Far from it. Most had been contributing members of Canadian society for a large portion of their lives. The majority were the children of love alliances formed during World War II between British women and Canadian soldiers fighting the spread of fascism. And due to an antiquated law regarding the marital status of the applicants' parents at the time of the applicants' birth, people who had fully functioned as Canadian and whose parents had risked everything for their country were denied. 

Jason Kenney, Canada's immigration minister, has estimated that possibly hundreds of thousands of people were affected. As this became apparent, the government moved quickly to change the laws, but did not change them all. 

 “I had the letter in my hand, and was shaking,” Scott said, recalling her first denial. “I felt so embarrassed, because as I read down, the reason for the denial was because I was born out of wedlock…they’re saying I’m a bastard.”

Scott shares a common struggle with countless Canadians of her generation – they were born when ‘legitimacy’ mattered. She is quick to accept that today’s society has a different attitude towards children born out of wedlock, but back then she said, it was a big deal, and as she now is all too aware, could result in a loss of statehood.

“My parents didn’t want me to know the circumstances of my birth. You didn’t share that with anyone,” she said.

It wasn’t until Scott was 17 that she learned the circumstances that brought her into this world. She always new that she was born while her father was stationed in England during the war in 1945, but not of her parent’s unmarried status.

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Lost Canadians

Unusual cases such as Jackie Scott's need to be handled with compassion. She is a neighbour who is very community-oriented, which makes her a valuable member of our society. What a shock in 2005 to discover she didn't have a home country. This land holds her history and she belongs here. It seems so unreasonable to dismiss her request due to outdated laws and mores. It must feel awful for her to be a lost Canadian and to feel she has no home. Will someone at Immigration please advocate for Jackie to obtain the citizenship she deserves? Please let her in. DD

Lost Canadians

I could not believe that this issue is still facing and forcing people who have lived in Canada for years to go through this bureaucratc nightmare. I suffered this indignity in 2006 and we thought our public fight had resulted in correcting the abuses of the past legislations with C-37. It should be a no brainer for the idiots that run our Government to acknowledge birthrights when that person has worked, lived, paid taxes and reached the Senior years without blemishing that mythological Canadian identity of a caring, compassionate and holier than thou Human Rights advocacy. What part of Citizenship does our government not understand? To Jackie Scott, my heart goes out to you and my letters to CIC will start again. Barbara Porteous Osoyoos, BC
I attended Parliament Hill with Jackie in April, 2009. There was a gathering of Lost Canadians who would finally be given the status Canadian Citizen but Jackie, cheering these remarkable people, was not included because one of our representatives added a date. Jackie had not been allowed to travel to Canada with her mother until the age of two because she was born with an illness that required surgery and so missed this date by months. This time in Ottawa was the most humbling experience. I was born on Canadian soil, 5th generation Canadian and very proud to wear the flag, however, the determination, the desire, the long battle to be given their due, the shining faces with tears of joy was overwhelming as the men and women were given their right to call themselves Canadian. My thought at that moment, "I have taken this privilege for granted all my life without truly realizing what this privilege means". They knew, they know, they fought and they will not give up until every "Lost Canadian" is found. I know of no other person more deserving the title of Canadian Citizen than Jackie Scott. I hope our Government will finally stop spending our money to deny her this privilege. Will you add your voice?

Lost Canadians

Truth of the matter is, there are no "Lost Canadians", despite knowing exactly where they are and that they belong to Canada every bit as much as Jason Kenney or any other MP in Canada our "Citizenship" minister continues to turn his back on them and totally ignore the ignorant laws that prevented these Legitimate Canadians from being recognized. The most positive thing about the next Federal election is that those Canadians lucky enough to be recognized as citizens can exercise their democratic rights to replace minister Kenney with somebody that has a clue.
No politician in his right mind today would dare to call children who are born out of wedlock "bastards" or say they have no rights to citizenship, but that's exactly what Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Jason Kenney is doing to the children of World War Two Canadian servicemen who were born before their fathers and war bride mothers had a chance to marry. It would be politically indefensible and a fast route to election night suicide to say the " B" word out loud, but for some reason the Minister continues to pick on war bride children by denying them citizenship on the basis of their parents' marital status - a Section 15 Charter Rights violation if ever there was one. The irony is that people like Jackie who were raised in Canada, went to school here, worked, paid taxes, married and had children have less rights to citizenship than newly landed refugees and immigrants from the world over, who, although they may be deserving and we are glad to have them in this country, would be shocked to find out that Jackie has been disenfranchised simply because her mother and father were not married when she was born in 1945. It is absolutely ridiculous, it is shameful, it is an embarrassment but it is the way our current and former federal Ministers of Citizenship and Immigration carry on, as though it is acceptable in 2010 to say war bride children who were born out of wedlock during the Second World War have no rights to citizenship because their mother and father weren't married when they were born. And, when people like Jackie dare to raise their voices, to spend their own money to make a stand on Parliament Hill in an attempt to raise the profile of this discrimination, the Minister, who has refused to talk to them since taking on the portfolio two years ago from his precessor Diane Finley, accuses the Lost Canadians of politicizing the issue! “Rather than having press conferences or trying to politicize their application, just make a solid application, make a strong case, and it will be considered fairly on the merits of their case,” Mr. Kenney told CBC when asked about their protest on Parliament Hill in October, 2009. What Minister Kenney has failed to recognize is that he has given the Lost Canadians no other choice but to politicize the Lost Canadian issue. Personal IS political and for Jason Kenney to imply that they should just go home and pass the time away while waiting for the politicians to solve their individual citizenship problems is to underestimate the power of a large and growing number of men and women for whom their Canadian identity is the most important part of who they are. Mr. Kenney has an opportunity to right an historic wrong but it appears he has failed to grasp the urgency of the moment. His time in office will be over before we know it: here today, gone tomorrow. The legacy he leaves behind will not be the one he hopes people remember: rather, it will be littered with the shattered dreams of so many Lost Canadians who vow to never forget their betrayal by Jason Kenney, the Minister who refused to help the Lost Canadian War Bride children whose only crime was to be born out of wedlock during World War Two.

Lost Canadians.

Also a lost Canadian due to the fact that my mother is the Canadian, not my father. Why the difference Mr. Kenney? My heart goes out to Jackie, and hope that some one in the Canadian Government sees sense. Many Lost Canadians are from families who have served Canada for generations and helped make it what it is today. The early years for our ancestors must have been extremely hard - wars, skirmishes, food shortages, poverty etc., but our intrepid Canadian ancestors fought for their homes and land, survived some very harsh times, worked hard, and helped make Canada the great nation it is today. Yet, the Government will not take this into consideration and selectively excludes whose who really do deserve to be included. Shame on Mr. Kenney for refusing to recognise those who come from families who fought to give him the right to be where he is today.


Jason Kenney does discriminate against the "lost children." He is more worried about the legal and illegal immigrant. He and the Conservative Party work to help the legal and illegal immigrant to get the right papers so they can vote for the party. These lost children who worked, paid taxes, had children born in Canada....they are more loyal to Canada than many of the ones born here...for they want a place to call home and be proud Canadians. My grandfather (J. Ralph Kirk) was an MP for Antigonish, NS, for over 20 years. I can remember a heated debate in my grandparent's house about the lost children. My mother's best friend was being shipped back to England. She was a "bastard" child. Back then it was a disgrace; today's society does accept it, except our immigration minister seems to still like calling these lost children the 'B' word. He is in government for himself and the benefits...seems he has no compassion for the lost children. With all the requests for an interview and letters, his digging his heels in shows a stubborn lack of caring for this issue.

The Real Bastards Are.....

I've always said that being a Lost Canadian is like having a rare and incurable disease. Friends and family only become concerned about the "disease" when it affects someone they know. But once they become informed, they see the injustice and want to speak out.. Problem is, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Jason Kenney and the senior bureaucrats within the system do not care about the Lost Canadians. To them, it is not a matter of justice, for if it was about justice the Lost Canadian issue would have been solved when Bill C-37 was passed two years ago. To them, it was an expedient solution to a politically embarrassing problem that left 5% of the Lost Canadians in the lurch, people like Sandy Burke, Jackie Scott, Ian Munroe, Jan Makin and so many others who are being told they do not qualify for Canadian citizenship. I'd say the real bastards are the people at Citizenship and Immigration for they are the ones who are making the remaining Lost Canadians suffer - and for what? Canada welcomes 170,000 immigrants every year, from every corner of the globe, people who have never set foot on Canadian soil. Meantime, these Lost Canadians have, for the most part, lived here their entire lives and have a physical and emotional commitment to this country. What is wrong with this picture?

A national disgrace

I'm a friend of Don Chapman and Jackie Scott, and a supporter of the Lost Canadians since 2006. Here is part of an e-mail sent on June 28th to the Director Of Citizenship Legislation and Policy at the Department of Citizenship and Immigration: The story of the Lost Canadians is a strange, sad tale of political neglect and bureaucratic inertia spanning six decades. It was a national disgrace that became an international embarrassment for Canada, attracting the attention of The Economist, the New York Times and of the official magazine of the U.N. High Commission for Refugees. It also raises serious questions -- questions our politicians and news media prefer to avoid -- about recent citizenship policy, about the meaning and value of Canadian citizenship itself, and about what kind of country we are. Why does Canada treat her citizens so badly, and why does hardly anyone seem to care? Why have Canadians in their sixties and even older had to fight for their citizenship after a lifetime in Canada, while wealthy ‘immigrant investors’ were buying their way into Canada and getting citizenship on platter after only three years’ residence – often flexibly defined? Is citizenship a right, or a political favour to be granted, withheld or revoked at the pleasure of the Minister? Is it possible that those who have shaped our citizenship policy over the past 40 years care only about those who have arrived in Canada since 1970, because that's where the 'new' voters are? Is Canadian citizenship policy now being driven by the security concerns of a foreign government, and if so, is Canada really a sovereign state? And why is the immigration tail wagging the citizenship dog at the Department of Citizenship and Immigration (note the word order)? Jacqueline Scott (whom I know personally) and Marion Vermeersch and her brother (a veteran of the Canadian Forces), are War Bride children who are excluded from citizenship solely because they were born out of wedlock, even though their parents later married. They are excluded by an obscure, unfair law that was repealed 33 years ago and that no politician today (including the present Minister) would publicly defend. They have experienced the shock of being told in their sixties that they are not citizens of the only country they know. They are psychologically stateless, even if not legally so. To treat them and the still-excluded Mennonites as ‘Canadians of convenience’ who have suddenly arrived on Canada’s doorstep claiming citizenship is insulting, unconscionable and politically indefensible. What policy objective is served by their continued exclusion from citizenship? Has the government made a political calculation that because the remaining pre-1947 Lost Canadians are few in numbers and now in their sixties or older, this problem will eventually solve itself by natural attrition? If so, what a shabby, cynical way to make citizenship policy, or indeed any public policy. A former deputy minister of your Department has commented as follows on the plight of the Lost Canadians: ‘[E]xclusion from citizenship, in cases such as you describe, is entirely contrary to the philosophy of Canadian citizenship as I have always understood it. The people you know have not been treated fairly. The dismissive attitude of officials, as reported, should be unacceptable to the Minister.’ One final point: If, as recently speculated, Lord Black of Crossharbour is eventually allowed to resume his citizenship while the remaining Lost Canadians are still excluded, the Minister of the day will have some explaining to do.

Lost Canadians

Jackie Scott should not have to fight for her citizenship, it is her birthright. The Citizenship Act of 1947 was flawed at the outset, and although the government has applied many layers of band aid legislation over the last 60 years, they never get it right. Bill C-37 was a good band aid but still a band aid and left many Lost Canadians behind. Like many other Lost Canadians, I also lived and went to school in Canada. Ironically, unlike Jackie Scott who is denied citizenship because she was born out of wedlock (a bastard), I am being denied citizenship because I was born in wedlock to a Canadian mother and American father. Moreover, had I been born a “bastard” instead of Jackie, we would both be Canadians. What kind of citizenship act is this? In the 21st century with Canada parading the cause of human rights around the globe and criticizing other countries human rights records, they should put their own house in order and stop this ongoing gender and age discrimination. “Come on Canada”, get it right this time!


It's amazing how Jason Kenney can cater to the immigrant groups and ,yet, has no compassion or comprehension how Jackie Scott feels being denied her Canadian citizenship. It seems the government is ignorant of laws that apply to her situation. Unless it is a situation that affects them or their families, they have absolutely no interest in rectifying the problems that exist. Mr. Kenney obviously has a personal interest in his future electorial votes and possibly his future career as demonstrated by actively encouraging foreign immigration. It is a shame that some such as Jackie Scott, who has every right to be a Canadian citizen, has fallen through the cracks. Jackie's father served our country during the war, was a exemplary citizen providing for his family and surely would be appalled that his daughter is being denied her birthright. My observation is that Mr. Kenney spends more time on multiculturalism and immigration and nothing on legitimate outstanding citizenship matters. Is this the candidate we Canadians want to serve our citizenship issues?

Lost Canadians.

A quote from the Queen's recent speech trumpets Canadian values of freedom and fairness. I would agree with that, but fairness is not a word I would use in the same sentence as Mr. Kenney. Were is the fairness in depriving Jackie or Sandie their citizenship. Where is the fairness in depriving those born of Canadian mothers or born pre-1947, or born out of wedlock. Does not seem to me that Mr. Kenney knows what the word 'fairness' means.

Lost Canadians

Jason Kenney needs to be relieved of his duties. He is going to leave Canada in ruins. He does not deserve his role which is supposed to be about equality, since he does not know the meaning of the word. He wants to have a national anthem that retracts the sentence where the word 'sons' is used. Mr Kenney, simply changing a few words for the outside world to believe you stand for equality-is not going to work! Because there are many of us who are willing to keep standing for the rights of ourselves and others such as Kasey Neal, Jackie, and those who are being denied equal rights based on old laws. Why do you insist in immigrating people with no connection to Canada? when there are many of us who could provide services if you gave us the right to our heritage back. You defy the Supreme Court rulings, The Human Rights Act, The UN. The queen is a Female and many of these cases are due to Females being married or not married or forced to except a Male choice when they did marry. Then there are those who are being denied rights based soley on one thing for a Man, something different for a Woman. Where in those acts and the current 2009 act is there equality? Fairness? Moral decency and peoples rights? Are you relying on the people left behind-again- to do nothing? It is only a matter of time before you are replaced and yet you could save your own job by ensuring you stick to the law.

Lost Canadians

I am a "Lost Canadian", after finishing university and getting my first job as a software engineer, I applied for a position with a DND contractor working in the Arctic Circle make making sure that no one enters Canadian space illegally. After finding out that my proof of citizenship was denied because my father obtained a 5(2)(b) grant of citizenship that was not retroactive (which is not the case had his father been Canadian and not his mother), then I was no longer eligible for position because I am not considered Canadian. Even after C-37 passed, which restored citizenship back to my father's birth date, CIC says that I am not a citizen because the 2nd generation born abroad clause limits citizenship to the 1st generation born abroad. Even though that limitation is not retroactive in the bill, CIC claims that it is and that I have no right to Canadian citizenship Someone should be held accountable that CIC is knowingly disobeying the Federal courts and even the law as written by Parliament.
This is correct, we are now covered by our parents. My Dads citizenship is now retroactive. The embassy actuallu told me that he was not Canadian at my birth, I tld them they should give out correct information...retroactive citizenship does the same for us in 2009 as it did for those who in 77 act. The 209 act IS allowing people born pre 09 to a canadian parent to claim..yet they are deliberately stopping us even though we too were born pre 09. So- they stopped us by way of grant in 77 now our parents have retroactive citizenship were being stopped again- yet AGAIN- being treated differently under the 2009 act then people who are from Male lineage...they are using this going backward. 1st generation rule is ONLy for those born AFTER 2009. The CIC have no reason whatsoever to deny us citizenship. We were not subject to section 8 in 77 at because our parents had a grant (see 4.3 citizenship act 77)..that was only people whos children were covered by their parents retroactive citizenship. These people had children in say 1980 but did not register until for example 87, their parents retroactive citizenship DID cover them. So WHY??? now are we not able to claim...we ARE covered, are NOT subject to section i say because that was only for people whos parents had retroactive citizenship pre 09. Why is the CIC allowing grandchilden and great granchildren of Male Canadians to claim in 2009? if us born to feamles are not allowed it they should revoke everyones who has been claimed since 2009 to male heritage....there is no reason not to give us citizenship at all. Protecting canada from people who have not been born there is not an excuse when you are giving out citizenship to great grandchildren of male heritage AFTER 2009 simply because they were born before 09. Even if these people already had approval pre 09 for citizenship- there is no way- we could have been approved because of the grant conditions imposed on our parents. Send your case to review- under the CIC they have to investigate throughly if you appeal.....only after the result is back a second time do you have to if you so wish- to look at court action. Numbers of people are needed to ask for reviews of their 2nd gen cases now their parents cover their births......we simply can not continue the 1 thing for you- 1 thing for the others under the 2009 is doing the same as the 77 act and 47 act.....prevent female heritage and using ploys to enforce it...Against Benner ruling, against federal court, Human Rights, UN, and if you read the case of the 'Forward' brothers in 2008 where their Mum was subject to a grant....the statement given said that in order for them to have a claim to unfairness and gender difference their Mum would have to have retroactive citizenship...making her canadian at their births...only then could discrimination be applied......Well retroactive citizenships has now happened......and we are still being denied.

Lost Canadians

I wonder how the people have been suffering after living in
canada ,working paying taxes and abiding laws for decades

To find out they are not considered a Canadian citizen.

This is a great injustice........

What about those ILLEGAL ALIENS who were smuggled from

Third world countries entered Canada illegally got refugees

Status and now are CANADIAN CITIZENS....

How you can justify denying canadians citizenship rights!

When people who dont spaek even proper english have CANADIAN PASSPORT

Special reports

Citizenship and Immigration Reporting Project

Canadian children of World War II veterans, war brides, even those once labeled by the law "bastards", and "lunatics".  Many  lived in Canada their whole lives, paid taxes, and carried...
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