1940s document key to citizenship for Lost Canadian Jackie Scott: “Absurd injustice” denies citizenship to War Bride children

For Immediate Release

Jackie Scott was born in England
to a Canadian War Bride and
came to Canada in 1948.
(May 10, 2012) - A Surrey, B.C. woman who arrived in Canada in 1948 with her War Bride mother is now fighting for her citizenship in the Federal Court. A document from the 1940s recently discovered in the Library and Archives in Ottawa could hold the key to citizenship for Jackie Scott and others, known as Lost Canadians, who are excluded from citizenship because they were born out of wedlock outside Canada before 1947.

A transcript of the document, with its archival reference, can be found on the Lost Canadian website at http://tinyurl.com/chsd2o6

Jackie Scott and her parents
at Niagara Falls in 1948, soon
after she and her mother
arrived in Canada.
Jackie Scott was born in England in 1945 to a Canadian father and a British mother. She was born out of wedlock because her father, a Canadian soldier of the Second World War, could not get the required permission to marry. Such cases were common and inevitable under wartime conditions. After the war, Ms Scott’s father was repatriated to Canada, but because of poor health she was unable to travel to Canada with her mother until 1948. Shortly after her arrival, her parents were married in Toronto. By her parents’ marriage Ms Scott was legitimated retroactively from birth under Ontario law, but is still excluded from citizenship by the continuing application of an obscure provision of the 1946 Canadian Citizenship Act. She is now suing the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration in the Federal Court.

A document found last week on a microfilm in the Library and Archives could determine the outcome of Ms Scott’s case. Its subject line reads: ‘Canadian Citizenship Act – Ruling status of illegitimate child whose father is Canadian citizen’. Written by a senior immigration officer and dated Sept 3, 1948, the document describes a case substantially the same as Ms Scott’s. A child was born in the United States, out of wedlock, to a Canadian father and an American mother. No date of birth is given for the unnamed child, but a reference to section 4 of the 1946 Canadian Citizenship Act – the same section that applies to Ms Scott’s case – confirms that it was before the Act came into force on January 1, 1947. Three weeks after the birth, the parents married. The father returned to Canada and his wife and child later applied for entry to join him.

An immigration officer, applying the same law by which Ms Scott is excluded from citizenship, admitted the child to Canada as an immigrant. The case was subsequently referred to the Registrar of Canadian Citizenship, who gave the following ruling:

‘I think it would be right and proper to recognize the child as a Canadian citizen. I note that the marriage of the parents took only three weeks after the date of birth of the child. We are of the opinion that a marriage under these conditions, wherein the father recognizes, by the fact of marriage, that the child is his own, and that in all probability the laws of the community in which the child is born would recognize it as legitimate, we should take the view that the child is the legitimate offspring of the father and in consequence should be regarded as a natural born Canadian.’

Ms. Scott says the document confirms what she has always believed, that she is a Canadian citizen from birth “by operation of law.”

“That the present government disregards the decision made in September 1948 regarding pre-1947 out-of-wedlock children who were subsequently legitimated by their parents' marriage, as well as other Supreme Court rulings, is unconscionable,” says Ms. Scott. “It's time for the Canadian government to recognize the citizenship of individuals in my position and immediately do the right thing and honour the directive handed down in 1948.”

A friend of Ms Scott commented: ‘The Minister has a political decision to make: take the high road and correct this absurd injustice now, whether by administrative or legislative action, or fight the Lost Canadians in court. If he chooses the latter, he must explain what the government is defending, what policy objective is served, by continuing to exclude people from citizenship solely because they were born out of wedlock over 65 years ago.’ No date has been set for a hearing of Ms Scott’s case in the Federal Court.

A transcript of the document, with its archival reference, can be found on the Lost Canadian website at http://tinyurl.com/chsd2o6