Daughter of Canadian war veteran fights 18 years for citizenship

Before his death in 2004, Lloyd Cross, couldn't believe that the country he fought for would refuse to recognize his daughter as Canadian. Missing his first Remembrance Day parade since the end of World War II that same year, his daughter, Sheila Cross, marched in his place. For Walshe, the battle her father waged in Europe all those years ago ended in 2009, but not without a cost.   

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“‘I could have died in that war,’” Walshe recollects her father saying about her scenario.

“He was a Canadian British soldier… and I am his Canadian daughter. That’s what made him so angry."

He passed away before seeing her citizenship recognized.

Before receiving a special 5.4 grant of citizenship in 2007, and her official recognition back to 1947 in 2009, Walshe was a Lost Canadian – would be citizens who through no fault of their own have been stripped of their nationality rights because of antiquated provisions in the Canadian Citizenship Act.

While most of these laws have been struck from the book, like the one that said Walshe had to live in Canada on her 24th birthday, there are still laws that effect an untold number who are still finding out that they too are not Canadian. One of those laws pertains to Jackie Scott, 65, who is being denied citizenship because she was born out of wedlock to Canadian soldier and British mother in World War II.

“There’s no clear and informative guidelines. Its like someone picks a name out of a hat and says that one’s got the thumbs up and that one’s got the thumbs down – they’re playing Caeser,” Walshe said of Scott’s case, whose plight the Vancouver Observer has been following since July, 2010.

No sense is right. Walshe has dozens of letters bearing the signatures of countless officials from numerous Ministry’s spanning three Canadian Prime Ministers – letters that say the problem belongs to another department.

Some acclaimed Lost Canadian’s have been fast tracked through the bureaucracy over the years, like Liberal Senator Romeo Dallaire, who was born abroad and not in Canada on his 24th birthday, to save government embarrassment. Others have not been so lucky in the citizenship raffle. Canada’s last surviving World War I veteran, Jack Babcock, almost died disenfranchised and would have were it not for a last minute ministerial intervention.

Like Sheila Walshe, Jackie Scott’s father was also a Canadian soldier stationed in Britain during World War II. And like Walshe once faced bureaucratic stonewalling, Scott is waiting on another set of applications and getting no answers.

“I got letters from all of them [Ministry heads] over the years and they passed me like a parcel. Nobody opened the parcel. They just passed it,” Walshe said of her ordeal.

Reports from the Vancouver Observer have shown the same. In February 2011, the Observer reached out to the Ministry for the Status of Women but was told Scott’s case was an immigration issue – this despite the fact that Scott’s charter rights are being violated by sexist laws pertaining to her mother’s chastity. In March 2011, after eight months of stonewalling, the office of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration replied to the Vancouver Observer's numerous requests in an email about outstanding Lost Canadian cases.

“This government takes the issue of people’s citizenship very seriously, and we sympathize with all those whose citizenship has been questioned due to outdated citizenship laws that have been on the books for many years.  We have taken measures to give citizenship to those who are not Canadian because of outdated provisions in former legislation.

Your support for Ms. Scott has been noted. Although I cannot discuss the details of her case, I can inform you that her circumstances have been fully considered by Citizenship and Immigration Canada officials.”

The correspondence was signed “S. Charbonneau, Ministerial Enquiries Division. Attached was the adage: This electronic address is not available for reply.”

Read more about Lost Canadians here.

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