Don Chapman, speaking for lost Canadians

Globe and Mail
Nation Builder of the Year: Don Chapman

December 5, 2008

As The Globe and Mail moves towards selecting our Nation Builder of 2008 at the end of December, we will be highlighting nominations from our readers on who they believe deserves special recognition for making a major contribution to Canadian society this year. Today, you have suggested Don Chapman, activist for a group of lost Canadians.

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Here's what Globe readers had to say:

Todd Farrell from Halifax, Canada writes: I would like to nominate Don Chapman. Don has spent years of his own time and financial resources to help make the changes necessary in Canada's citizenship laws which would restore Canadian citizenship to thousands who unwittingly lost their citizenship over the past 61 years, since the first Canadian Citizenship Act of 1947 came into force. Isn't that what is at the foundation of our nation, it's own citizens?

Marcel Gelinas from Wilbraham, MA, United States writes: I nominate Don Chapman, the leader of the group known as The Lost Canadians. He has dedicated decades of his life without remuneration or compensation in his pursuit to change the unjust citizenship laws of Canada. His success in doing so was phenomenal but there is still much work to be done. I am a proud Canadian born man, age 87, hoping with all my heart to become a proud citizen. He is working toward that end unselfishly to bring more good people into the fold who deserve it. Don Chapman is continuing in his efforts to make Canada a better nation.

Sandra McIntyre from Niagara Falls, Canada writes: I would like to nominate Don Chapman. I don't know another single soul who has spent this much of his time and his own resources to change a law that is unfair to a lot of people. Don is so passionate about what he does because he believes he can make a difference. He made a difference in my life as he worked hard for me to get Canadian Citizenship granted. I am now a proud Canadian thanks to Don's help.

Landis George from United States writes: nation builder would, by definition, seek to strengthen the native land with a patriotic spirit. This Don Chapman has done. He has opened the way for skilled workers to enter and work in Canada and has paved the way for families to bring children in who will live, work, and perhaps eventually fight for their country. It is rare for one to work so hard with so little recognition and I would like to see him honoured for his hard work, patriotic spirit and persistence.

Kate Newstead from Vancouver, Canada writes: I nominate Don Chapman for his work for Lost Canadians over the world. He has personally touched so many families and for us, my uncle who has always dreamt of getting back his Lost Citizenship. When we found Don, he made time immediately for several personal conversations with us to listen, understand and advise. Of course, on a grander scale, his work towards the C-37 bill will impact thousands of people. He deserves recognition for his tireless commitment and drive for these people.

Rose Cossette from Canada writes: I would like to nominate Don Chapman. He is a man who has worked tirelessly without pay for over two decades to change a law because it was unjust. He has worked long and hard to help at least a quarter of a million people, including my husband, restore their citizenship rights. His Lost Canadian organization is solely responsible for helping to achieve success with the update of Canada's antiquated citizenship laws with the passage of Bill C-37 in April 2008 and S-2 before that. He has made very special contributions on behalf of so many people and to Canada as a nation. If I had not contacted Don Chapman, my husband would still be waiting.

Born in British Columbia, Don Chapman fought Ottawa for years after he and tens of thousands of others, including "war brides," were stripped of their Canadian citizenship under an obscure part of a decades-old immigration law.

Mr. Chapman, a former airline pilot, lost his citizenship when his father moved to the United States and became an American citizen. The Canadian government in such cases then revoked the child's citizenship, without notifying the child.

Mr. Chapman, who lives in Phoenix, Ariz., has been fighting to obtain Canadian citizenship for more than 30 years.

"I'm a landed immigrant in my own country," he said. "I want my birthright."

Bill C-37 passed in the Senate on April 16, amending the Citizenship Act to give Canadian citizenship to those who lost or never had it due to outdated provisions in existing and former legislation.

“This law is a victory not just for those who lost their citizenship, but for all Canadians as well,” Mr. Chapman said after the decision.

Click here to read the full article in the Globe and Mail