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.