National Post: War bride children deserve better

Tuesday, Mar. 8, 2011

On the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day, one group of women that comes to mind is war brides. Their immigrant story of love, courage and adaptation to a new life in Canada is an indelible part of our national identity.

Click here to read original article in the National Post.

But immigration is one thing, citizenship another. Sixty-five years after arriving in Canada, war brides and their children are being put through the wringer at Citizenship and Immigration because of an obscure rule that changed their citizenship status after Jan. 1, 1947: Those most affected are children who came with their mothers on war bride ships.

They are the "lost" Canadian war bride children, now age 65-plus, who discover they are not citizens because they didn't apply so many years ago. Problem is, nobody told them they had to -imagine the anxiety when federal entitlements such as old age pension, medicare and passports are threatened or revoked.

And it gets worse. If the war bride child was born out of wedlock, they are denied citizenship because of a discriminatory section of the 1947 Act. They can get a special grant, but it only recognizes their status from the date of the grant forward.

As a historian and human rights activist, I am ashamed at the silence from women's groups on this issue. After 65 years, I don't think I'm asking too much for feminists to make a principled stand, especially for those children whose only crime was to be born out of wedlock during the Second World War.

Melynda Jarratt, Fredericton.

Click here to read original article in the National Post.