July 13, 2010 Lost Canadians – Don Chapman

Listen/view program. Lost Canadians are Canadian citizens who were stripped of their citizenship by arcane provisions of the 1947 Canadian Citizenship Act.

The 1947 Act was based on old, archaic legislation that considered women and children chattel of their husbands or fathers. The original laws were written just after Confederation in the mid-1800’s, and they weren’t corrected until the passage and implementation of Bill C-37 on April 17, 2009 – ironically it was the 27th anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

There were many ways to be stripped of your Canadian citizenship, and most Lost Canadians were actually unaware that they were Lost Canadians. Often times it wasn’t till the affected person went to collect their Old Age Pension or needed medical care did they find out. (Click here to read about Rita Rouselle, a War Bride child from New Brunswick who found out she was not a citizen when she applied for her OAP last year).

In our ranks there are movie stars, sports heroes, singers, Privy Council Members, MP’s, Senators, Judges, journalists, pharmacists, even Order of Canada recipients. Most Lost Canadians, however, are just average, ordinary people who’ve always thought themselves to be Canadian citizens.

Twelve Ways To Lose Citizenship:

1) As a minor child ones father took out citizenship in another country.

2) You were a foreign-born Canadian, and on your 24th birthday you weren’t domiciled in Canada .

3) You were a War Bride who never became naturalized.

4) You were a War-Bride child who never was naturalized.

5) In certain circumstances, you were a second-generation born abroad Canadian and you didn’t reaffirm your citizenship by your 28th birthday.

6) You were a border-baby, meaning you were born in the U.S. (mainly because the nearest hospital was in the States rather than Canada ), and you were never properly registered. People from Quebec were particularly affected.

7) In certain circumstances, your connection to Canada came through a women rather than a man. This mainly affected foreign born, born in-wedlock children to Canadian mothers and foreign fathers. In 1997 the Canadian Supreme Court ruled CIC was guilty of gender discrimination, thus granting citizenship to this group on application. However, in 2004 CIC decided to ignore the Supreme Court’s ruling, thus Canada went back to blatantly discriminating against women.

8) You were born out of wedlock.

9) You were born to a Canadian serviceman outside of Canada, commonly referred to as military Brats.

10) You are a woman who married a non-Canadian prior to 1947.

11) You are a child of a woman who married a non-Canadian prior to 1947. (It doesn’t matter that you’ve spent your whole life in Canada or were born in Canada!)

12) You took out citizenship in another country prior to 1977.

Do you fit into one of the above groups? In fact close to one-million people do. That’s quite a number, being that Canada is a country of just over 33-million (excuse me, now 34-million!)

Original definition of a Lost Canadian:

A Lost Canadian is someone who was born in Canada between the years 1947 and 1977. Out of no fault of their own, their fathers took out citizenship in another country, thus the result was, a lot of children like myself – but only Canadian-born children – they lost their citizenship as well. Of note, many of these children did not have citizenship in another country, resulting in thousands of children being completely stateless.

In my quest for Canadian citizenship, I discovered many variations of people who had been stripped of their Canadian status. There were children born abroad to Canadian parents, there are what is now referred to as Border Babies, Children born on Canadian military bases to Canadian fathers serving in the Canadian military, War Brides from WW II, and of course their foreign-born children, Native Aboriginal women many times were affected by their own customs and rules and they too many times lost their status.

These old rules were just plain wrong. In today’s standards, they are quite immoral.

Let me use the government’s own language from their original laws:

“Married women, minors, lunatics, and idiots, will be classified under a disability for their national status.”

Starting in 1868 with the first Canadian Nationals Act, these were the laws that Canada observed. In 1929 there was the Famous Person’s case- that being the first time women were considered to be people! While that decision gave women one very basic right to be recognized, with regards to their Canadian status they were still considered disabled. Those laws remained on the books until the beginning of 1947.

January 1, 1947:

Prior to this day there were no Canadian citizens. People in Canada were British Subjects. On January 1, 1947 the first true Canadian Citizenship Act was implemented, with Prime Minister Mackenzie King being the very first Canadian citizen, Paul Martin, Sr. being the second. In fact, the citizenship act was the brainchild of Paul Martin, Sr. He first conceived the idea during WW II, but the idea really gelled as he walked through the Canadian graveyard in Dieppe after the war.

Once again a product of its time, the Act was inherently discriminatory. While it gave women status, it still lumped “minors, lunatics, and idiots” together under a disability for citizenship. Women, while now able to be Canadian citizens, were by no means equal to men. The gender inequalities were huge. Under this law, that is how the Canadian government stripped Canadian children of their citizenship.

Looking at this in today’s standards, it’s hard to imagine that these laws were ever on the books. It’s harder still understanding why the government is so vehemently defending their past actions. To right an historic wrong- it’s something that seems almost impossible for the Canadian government to do.

    • Katherine Covell
    • July 5th, 2010

    For a country that prides itself on its human rights record and criticizes others for lack of respect for human rights, this ongoing and shameful disregard for so many must stop. It is not enough to ratify international rights treaties or to open human rights museums — get serious Canada and honor your moral and legal obligations. In our multicultural society we are used to hypenated Canadians — e.g., Indo-Canadian, or Italian-Canadian, but there should be no such thing as a LOST-Canadian.

    • Katherine Covell
    • July 5th, 2010

    For a country that prides itself on its human rights record and criticizes others for lack of respect for human rights, this ongoing and shameful disregard for so many must stop. It is not enough to ratify international rights treaties or to open human rights museums — get serious Canada and honor your moral and legal obligations. In our multicultural society we are used to hypenated Canadians — e.g., Indo-Canadian, or Italian-Canadian, but there should be no such thing as a LOST-Canadian.

  1. Here’s a little anecdote about the kafkaesque experiences of Lost Canadians that’ll make your head spin: I see the Queen of England – who is Canada’s titular head of state – was in Winnipeg to lay the cornerstone of the new Human Rights Museum yesterday, July 4. I remember two years ago the late Eswyn Lyster, War Bride, sister historian and author wrote to the Queen asking the monarch to intervene in the case of British born War Brides and their children who were discovering that their Canadian citizenship had been revoked – or that they never had it in the first place!

    While Eswyn did get a reply from Buckingham Palace, (click here to read the letter http://www.canadianwarbrides.com/joetaylor/lyster-e-qe-nov-09-06.jpg ) surprising enough as that was, the language was typical of the run around Lost Canadians receive from the system – thank you m’am, appreciate the inquiry, but the Queen does not intervene in Canadian domestic affairs, we suggest you contact the newly minted Governor General of Canada, Michael Jean.

    With the above instructions from the Queen, Eswyn obediently shot off a letter to the new GG Michael Jean with the same inquiry about stripping citizenship of War Brides and their children (click here to read Eswyn’s letter to the Governor General of Canada http://www.canadianwarbrides.com/joetaylor/lyster-e-gg-feb-01-07.jpg )

    Soon after came the reply: the Governor General does not get involved in the workings of the government of Canada, and we suggest you contact – guess who? The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration (click here to read the Governor General of Canada’s response http://www.canadianwarbrides.com/joetaylor/lyster-e-gg-mar-05-07.jpg )

    Off and on the merry go round we go. As someone who has been involved in this fight for six years I have seen this same circular game over and over again – you think that you’re going to get some help from someone in authority who could actually do something, and what do they do? Send you back to the same person who has been denying you your rights all along. Meanwhile, people keep getting caught up in the system and as that large cohort of War Bride children starts reaching the magic number of 65 this year and the next, and they start applying for their Old Age Pensions, they’re going to find themselves in the exact same position as so many are in today – no citizenship, no rights and none of the privileges that come with it including Old Age Pension, Medicare, passports, etc. etc. etc.

    It’s a shameful way to treat the children of Canadian servicemen who risked their lives for this country in World War Two. The politicians and bureaucrats who run the system better open their eyes and take note: the demographic tsunami of War Bride children who were born in 1945, 1946 and 1947 is going to hit over the next year and not everyone has the wherewithal, the connections or an understanding of the system to look for political solutions to their plight. They’re just going to get very very angry and their anger will be – rightly so – directed at the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration – the same person who refuses to listen to good advice when it is given to him by Don Chapman.

    • Oops, it’s been a few years since I read those letters and noticed that it’s actually worse than what I wrote in my comments.

      The year was 2006 / 2007 and the Office of the Governor General of Canada told Eswyn Lyster to contact the Minister of Veterans Affairs – who has absolutely NOTHING to do with the citizenship issues she raised in her letter. Talk about a wild goose chase, expending time, energy and what little faith you have in a complete waste of time because the Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs is going to tell you to go to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration – the same guy who took away your citizenship in the first place.

      Imagine if you were just an ordinary person trying to sort out these citizenship issues for the first time with no help, no knowledge or understanding of the history behind your personal situation, nor of all the work that has already been done by people like Don Chapman and every time a new person finds themselves in this predicament they have to start all over again? You’d be running around like a chicken with your head cut off trying to make your way through the bureaucracy.

        • Sandra Jean McIntyre
        • July 6th, 2010

        Boy Melynda, what you say here is so true! I found out at 60 years old that I was not a Canadian citizen. I fired off emails to everyone you could think of for over two years and got ZERO results. One night I got a call from Don who said he could help me. I was so happy I cried! It’s been two years since I became a “canadian citizen” and I owe it all to Don, because no one else even cared about my plight.

  2. In the new bill implemented last year, the government gave citizenship to those born after 1947, but declared those first generation born to a Canadian woman who married a non-Canadian prior to 1947 as not qualifing. Most of us who fall into this category come from families who were born in Canada, served their country, fought and died for Canada over many generations, never became citizens of another country, so why are we being discriminated against? Why are we any less entitled than those born after 1947?

    • Arch Ford
    • July 5th, 2010

    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 simply another band aid and still left many Lost Canadians behind.

    Like many other Lost Canadians, I also lived and went to school in Canada and denied citizenship because I was born in wedlock to a Canadian mother and American father.

    In the 21st century with Canada parading the cause of human rights around the globe and criticizing other countries human rights records, Canada must put their own house in order and stop this ongoing outragous gender discrimination. “Come on Canada”, get it right this time!

    • Patrick Chandler
    • July 6th, 2010

    It’s funny how Canada has blasted China for human rights violations, and then goes and does the same thing they condem. Actually, China does a census every 5-10 years, to find cases of statelessness, and GRANT citizenship to these people. Funny how a nation with over 1 billion people is able to do something like a simple census every decade, and solve the problem. This is a simple fix Canada. Regardless, My daughter MIGHT just be getting Chinese citizenship. Canada will become the laughing stock of the world if this doesn’t get fixed soon. Fairly soon, other countries are going to start blasting Canada for violating human rights.

    • thaicat
    • July 7th, 2010

    When is this going to change, when we say goodbye to people like RH Jason Kenney that’s when. He continues to ignore life outside his own. He job is based on the views of all, yet he uses his personal views to change thr rights of many and refuse fairness on the basis of minor glitches under laws that do not exist anymore. Does he enjoy being awkward? He continues to believe the 1st by descent rule is going to do Canada some good WHILE allowing the lineage of Males only to continue passing citizenship on to generations as long as they were born before 09. Is it me? or does that sound like the reason for the descent reduction was rubbish made up while holding on to male heritage..JK you are partiarchal at the least and in breach of the law. Jackie Scott, Sandra, stateless children and the gender discrimination rule as well as war brides need to be recognised. Their families have produced canadian familys who have worked and paid all their lives and yet you want to help immigrants whilst denying others using breaches of law. I think you should read the rules of Human Rights Act and notify the queen that you openly discriminate against women..after all she left the UK, stood proudly in her Canadian outfit to mark the Human Rights while all the while you are denying the bloodlines of Canada rights based on the gender of the Queen. unreal..step down and give your job to someone who abides by the law sir.

  3. Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

    • thaicat
    • July 9th, 2010

    Please keep emailing Diane Finley, Jason Kenney, stepthen harper, your MP, the GG, and any locals papers or radio stations. Get your plight in your local town paper. If you can get a few people responding it is better than none at all.

    • thaicat
    • July 10th, 2010

    It is begining to become very clear that those of us who are canadian are nto being recognised. Indian/canadians have been recognised to pass citizenship down that covers their children, but not other groups of people. So now its based not only on gender but ethnicity?? How comes we can not pass citizenship down. The CIC will say you needed to atleast be approved before 09 to claim citizenship..this is their way of getting round giving citizensihp to those whose parents are now retroactively covered but can not pass citizenship to their 2nd descent children through a female connection. How could you have got approval when your parent did not have retroactive citizenship?? Until they got that you were not considered to be born to a canadian parent. Retroactive citizenship may now cover your birth but your not allowed your citizenship…YET 77-2004 those with a male connection were granted retroactive citizenship and their children were covered!! Why the difference in what retroactive citizenship can do now?? Yet another way on extinguishing the female bloodline of canadians.

    Whats worse is if your needed APPROVAL as it were (note you could not get that without having a canadian parent at your birth or a parent whos citizenship was made retroactive) then why was approval not needed from 77-79? This was the only 2 years women who gave birth outside canada could pass down citizenship and that citizenship would be retroactive. EXAMPLE..1st descent child can now get citizenship as of 77. He has a child in 1978 but does not register himself until Jan 1979..his citizenship is retroactive between 77-79 so it covers his child. Imagine the application for the child had needed approval- before the cut off date of Feb 1979..then the child would have missed out. IO have not heard of any cases where this happened. The same in 77-2004 if you registered -even if you did not receive your id -they took in to account the date you sent your paper work in..hand it in Jan 2004…cut off Aug 2004 you had not received approval yet by a CIC officer but they held the origional date you sent the papaers in-in to account. All you had to do is register.

    Now they are apprantly saying ..if you did not gain approval before 09 you can not claim. Ok so if you gave birth to a child in March 09 sent off the papers then it was not counted because your child had not received approval….REALLY? then why are they allowing people to claim for their children of a MALE ONLY connection after 2009?? as per the CIC website. I feel they are using this excuse for those born to women only….plus indian/canadians can pass citizenship down but not people of other groups such as say..african/canadian british/canadian. When will the CIC start abiding by the answers of their own citizenship questions?? free from discrimination…equality and human rights….AS IF .THE CIC HAVE NO IDEA JUST HOW THEIR OWN LAWS WORK.

  4. An example of how Bill C-37 discriminates against women can be seen in the email on line from someone in America. It reads – “I applied on the first day possible, by mail. In late October, I received my brand new Canadian Citizenship Card in the mail. My elder sister was born in 1937, my elder brother in 1940, and I was born in 1943. All of us born in America to a Canadian father and American mother. All three of us have received our citizenship cards.” However, I, as first generation daughter of a Canadian Mother, have been refused. The reason – I can only derive citizenship through my British Father. My Mother does not count, even though she has 300 years of Canadian history in her family tree. This is nothing less than discrimination against women, and surely has no place in our modern world. Does the Canadian Parliament not yet understand that – Women are equal and should be given equal rights. I am sure that Paul Martin Snr. would not agree with the way his wishes have been interpreted. and ONLY MEN ALLOWED!

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    • Chris M
    • April 19th, 2011

    I understand that Canada was “trying to right a wrong”, notice how that is in quotation marks as in B.S. Canada knew they were leaving some people born in Canada and those of descent out.
    I myself was second-generation born in 1975 ,and born after my father had already turned 24, he was 25 and born in 1950.
    I have just recieved my grandfather’s death certificate, he was born in 1903 in Nova Scotia, but Nova Scotia did not record births until 1908 so I do not have a birth record. My grandfather’s record does have his SSN, but no mention of citizenship status. Just because a person is a legal resident which entitles them to a SS card and works here does not mean they are, or become american citizens. I have also looked to see if naturalization had occured specifically with as anal as Canada is about pre-1947 I am paying close attention to see if there are naturalization papers and if it occured before 1947, but I have not found any evidence of my grandfather having american citizenship. The death record and my father’s birth record do not mention my grandfather’s citizenship status, but did mention he was married at the time of death.
    I also am appauled by how Canada when they first allowed dual citizenship how second generation can become citizens if born after or on the day Canada allowed dual citizenship, but when they made citizenship by descent retroactive second generation born before dual citizenship were not included, as well as second generation born after dual citizenship, but did not quailfy because of being in a family like mine where the first generation was 24 prior to dual citizenship being allowed. Also for second generation who were allowed not everyones situation is the same. I did not find out about my family until I was 29,because my parents split-up, the roots are only on my father’s half; therefore just because a second generation does not find out before 28 (specifically those who were eligible) that does not mean that they did not want to have dual citizenship. I believe that retroactivity should have covered everyone of descent who is alive on the day the bill was passed and not just first generation, this way it would eliminate allowing some and not allowing others who were bascially in my case never eligible just because of when the descendant was born. Then go with their new requirements.

  12. I agree fully with your analysis. Discrimination in citizenship law is alive and well in Canada, despite the government’s claim of respecting human rights and equality. I am continuing the fight to correct these past injustices. Check out my webpage at http://www.lostcanadian.com
    -Don Chapman

    • I Harris
    • April 20th, 2011

    When Bill-C37 was first discussed, it seemed it would right the wrongs of past Citizenship Acts and bring them into this century. Alas, this was not to be. The official CIC site stated that “Children born abroad before 1947 to a Canadian parent (after the parents married)”. would receive citizenship. What the government failed to say was that this only applied to Canadian fathers not Canadian mothers! The old discrimination is still on the ‘books’!

    The Wedlock Issue was also discussed before the passing of Bill C-37 and was stated that denying Canadian citizenship to children born in wedlock to Canadian mothers and foreign fathers was anachronistic (and therefore discriminatory). The government still has not addressed this discrimination and seems unwilling even to discuss it. Why does the government need to discriminate against those of Canadian descent in so many petty ways.

  13. While Bill C-37 righted a whole bunch of wrongs, it also created one- an avenue for Canadian citizens to give birth to stateless babies. There are several categories of Lost Canadians remaining, and I’m fighting for them all. Prime Minister Stephen Harper could correct the mistakes with a stroke of a pen, but refuses. In doing so he joins the ranks of the Hosni Mubaraks and Muammar Gaddafis of the world- leaders who forgot that they are there to protect their people. Canadians should be ashamed that Steven Harper is turning his back on his own people, and in doing so knowingly violates his country’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, two Supreme Court decisions, three UN Conventions on Human Rights, and the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (incidentally written by a Canadian.)

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