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New spotlight on Lost Canadians

Reader's Digest details their struggle for citizenship.

Lost Canadians are enjoying a fresh public look at their struggle to have their citizenship recognized, this time in the Canadian edition of Reader’s Digest – “the world’s most read magazine”.

The December edition of the family magazine features a six-page article on the group of Canadians who, through kinks in the country’s citizenship laws, find themselves without citizenship, even though many were born, raised and worked here.

Lost Canadians were the subject of  a 12-part investigative series by the Vancouver Observer that focused on the legislative injustice; the series won a “best article” Canadian Online Publishing Award in 2010.

The Digest article features a list assembled for the series by Observer publisher Linda Solomon, listing a handful of Canadian celebrities whose children’s and grandchildren’s citizenship might be affected by the legal confusion.

Among them? Wayne Gretzky, Don Cherry, Jim Carrey, Pamela Anderson and Dan Aykroyd.

The article includes an interview with the Sunshine Coast’s Don Chapman, spokesman for the Lost Canadians.

 In it, Chapman outlines the flaws in several attempts to correct national legislation to include those left out for reasons of age, gender or parental residence, and speaks movingly of the importance of officially acknowledging citizenship for many of the group, which includes many elderly members born during the Second World War.

Author Drew Nelles also writes about the plight of several of the Lost Canadians who, unlike Chapman, are still struggling to regain citizenship, or who passed away without it.

Guy Vallieres, “a Second World War veteran who died in 2009, disenfranchised from his own country,” is one of them.

 "I cry every day and think about dying," Vallieres is quoted as telling the Parliamentary Committee on Citizenship and Immigration in 2007, before he passed away.

The group is aiming to apply to federal court for a judicial review of their arguments that Ottawa must provide them with their citizenship.

In response to their push, the office of Minister of Citizenship and Immigration said the minister is aware of the claim and would like to resolve the issue.

In past, offers have been made to award citizenship individually to those who file claims for special grants, but Chapman says the group doesn’t want to use that process.

Instead, they are asking that all residents who lived in Canada before 1947 be granted citizenship. Anyone born or living in Canada before that year was technically considered a British subject, and attempts to establish Canadian citizenship for those born earlier have included several gaps that have left the hundreds of remaining Lost Canadians stateless.



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