By CBC News
Published July 22nd, 2013/ cbc.ca
A woman born to a Canadian soldier and a British woman during the Second World War is suing the federal government after being denied Canadian citizenship.
Jackie Scott says it was only 10 years ago that she discovered she was not officially a Canadian, even though she was raised in Canada by her Canadian father.
On Monday in Federal Court in Vancouver, Scott launched a legal fight for Canadian citizenship that could set a precedent for those who call themselves “lost Canadians.”
Scott says she never questioned her citizenship growing up in Ontario in the 1950s and 60s. She was even able to vote in elections as an adult.
“How can you vote if you’re not a citizen? I did,” said Scott.
But then in 2005, while living in the U.S. with her husband, she applied for a citizenship certificate, and to her surprise the Department of Citizenship and Immigration turned her down.
She was given several official reasons why she did not qualify for Canadian citizenship, including that she was born in Britain to an unmarried mother who was not a Canadian, even though her parents married after the war and raised her in Canada.
They also said Scott’s Canadian-born father wasn’t officially a Canadian at the time either, because Canadian citizenship status only gained legal recognition in 1947. Before that Canadians were considered British subjects.
Scott says the reasoning discriminates against her on several levels.
“It’s an absurdity. They just use this discrimination that hinges on age, gender and family status against me.”
Monday, Scott asked the Federal Court in Vancouver to overturn that decision.
Don Chapman, an advocate working with Scott, believes Scott’s case challenges the government’s reluctance to recognize many other so-called lost Canadians.
“This is a concerted effort to go against their own people. And why? I don’t understand. It makes no sense whatsoever,” said Chapman.
In 2009 the federal government did pass legislation that extended citizenship to many, but only if they were born in 1947 onward.
B.C. Civil Liberties Association lawyer Raji Mangat says the federal government needs to amend the law once again to include children born to Canadians abroad before 1947.
“Children born abroad to Canadians should be Canadians, plain and simple. It doesn’t matter if your parents were married or what the gender of your Canadian parent is,” said Mangat.
A spokesperson for Citizenship and Immigration wouldn’t discuss the specifics of Scott’s case, but suggested hers was among a small number of people in the same situation, and that legislation recognizing their status is anticipated at some point in the near future.
According to Mangat, the term “lost Canadians” includes those who are denied citizenship for being born abroad and out of wedlock in the case of those with a Canadian father, or for being born to a Canadian mother who had no right to pass citizenship down to her child.