Lost Canadians nervous and hopeful as feds finally promise to solve citizenship quagmire
"My father was born in Toronto in 1911,” Scott told The Vancouver Observer at the time. “They're saying the Canada Citizenship Act didn't come in until 1947, so when I was born, he wasn't a Canadian. He fought for Canada. How can they say that? That soldiers who fought and died for Canada during WWI and WWII are not recognized as Canadian citizens is wrong."
Excerpt from 1943 document by Canadian government, distributed to Canadian soldiers to explain "Canadian citizenship and the issues of war".
When Scott eventually confronted then-Citizenship Minister Jason Kenney about it, he said to her face that her father was not a Canadian citizen at the time, nor were any of the soldiers who were fighting for Canada before 1947.
Video by Jenny Uechi
Frustrated by Citizenship authorities' unwillingness to acknowledge even her father, Scott, with help from Chapman, sued the government of Canada in January 2013. Her case highlighted major flaws in the Canadian citizenship laws that were leaving legitimate Canadians stateless.
They included cases such as:
- Johan Fast, a born-abroad, Manitoba-raised Canadian trucking business who learned through that federal government may have stripped him of citizenship because he hadn't re-applied for citizenship (with a fee and all his original birth documents) by the age of 28.
- Ken Smith, a White Rock-based Canadian who was also born to a British mother and Canadian father who married 10 months after his birth. Despite living in Canada since 1945, Citizenship and Immigration has rejected him twice for citizenship and has refused him a passport.
- Heather Harnois, a U.S. born woman of Ojibwa bloodline who has been denied citizenship, social insurance and health care due to sexist laws that prevent her from obtaining her status Indian card.
And while Canada's federal government has granted citizenship to people who never requested it, such as Malala Yousafzai and fictional figures such as Santa Claus thousands of Canadians with deep roots in the country have been rejected repeatedly by authorities over outdated legal loopholes that have often been identified, but never fixed.
“A right delayed is a right denied,” citizenship advocate Don Chapman said, quoting civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. “This year, the federal government gave citizenship to 100,000 people this year...Where is Jackie? What public good is being served by denying her citizenship?”