Lost Canadians are individuals who have believed themselves to be Canadian citizens or to be entitled to citizenship, but who are not/were not officially considered citizens due to particular and often obscure aspects or interpretations of Canadian nationality law.
Types of persons who would not been given Canadian citizenship when it was created under the 1946 citizenship laws included the following:
- Those whose father became a citizen of another country while they were children.
- Someone born in another country who did not live in Canada on their 24th birthday.
- A "war bride" who was never naturalized.
- A war bride's child who was never naturalized.
- A second-generation born-abroad Canadian who did not assert citizenship by their 28th birthday.
- An unregistered "border baby" – a person with Canadian parents who was born in the U.S. and not registered, commonly someone whose mother crossed into the U.S. to give birth in the closest hospital.
- In certain circumstances, someone whose connection to Canada involved descent through a woman rather than a man.
- Someone born out of wedlock.
- A person born to a parent on military service outside Canada.
- A woman who married a non-Canadian before 1947.
- A child of a woman who married a non-Canadian before 1947, regardless of whether that child was born or lived in Canada.
- A Canadian who took citizenship of another country before 1977.
In most cases, Lost Canadians were never aware that they were not citizens until they applied for government pensions or attempted to receive healthcare.
Amended Citizenship Act passage in 2008
On May 29, 2007, Canadian Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Diane Finley (CPC) announced her proposal to amend the Citizenship Act. Under the proposal, anyone naturalized in Canada since 1947 would have citizenship even if they lost it under the 1947 Act. Also, anyone born since 1947 outside the country to a Canadian mother or father, in or out of wedlock, would have citizenship if they are the first generation born abroad. Appearing before the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, Finley asserted that as of May 24, 2007, there were only 285 cases of individuals in Canada whose citizenship status needed to be resolved. Under the proposed legislation, anyone born before 1947 to a Canadian citizen abroad would be dealt with on a case-by-case basis; such individuals would have to apply for a ministerial permit.
Bill C-37, which received Royal Assent on April 17, 2008, amended the Citizenship Act to give Canadian citizenship to those who lost or never had it due to certain provisions in existing and former legislation. The law came into effect on April 17, 2009, one year following Royal Assent.
People who were citizens when the law came into force did not lose citizenship as a result of these amendments. The law was made retroactive to the time of birth or loss of citizenship, and gave citizenship to the following categories of people:
- People who became citizens when the first citizenship act took effect on January 1, 1947 (including people born in Canada prior to 1947 and war brides) and who then lost their citizenship;
- Anyone who was born in Canada or had become a Canadian citizen on or after January 1, 1947, and had then lost citizenship; and
- Anyone born abroad to a Canadian citizen mother on or after January 1, 1947, if not already a citizen, but only if they were the first generation born abroad.
The exceptions are those born in Canada to a foreign diplomat, those who renounced their citizenship with Canadian authorities, and those whose citizenship was revoked by the government because it was obtained by fraud.
Cases not resolved by the modified law
As of 2009, there are still some people who are sometimes referred to as Lost Canadians, including some children of war brides, children born out of wedlock during the Second World War, and Mennonites who have been refused citizenship by the Canadian government. As of 21 October 2009, there were currently 81 people who are asserted to be such cases, but this number is shrinking as the remaining people in this category die off. One person who died while waiting for citizenship (in February 2009) was Guy Valliere, a World War II veteran who had been publicly promised citizenship by Diane Finley.
Kasey Neal, aged two and a half as of 2010, was denied citizenship because her grandparent was a female Canadian rather than a male Canadian. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) claimed that she is not eligible because her parent was at first denied citizenship and then was later granted retroactive citizenship (which would seem to make her the daughter of a Canadian and thus ordinarily guarantee citizenship). The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in Benner v. Canada (1997)  that children of female Canadians are legally guaranteed all rights and privileges that children of male Canadians receive; however, this court decision was not interpreted by the CIC in favour of her case for citizenship. This denial of citizenship is being brought before judicial review and could lead to a class-action lawsuit if the Supreme Court's decision is ignored by CIC.
In September 2010, Priscilla Corrie (87), a "war bride", was denied a Canadian passport despite having received passports in the past and despite being on Old Age Pension and Canadian Pension Plan and having come to Canada when she was 20. Her passport was issued later that year, after the government was forced to act due to media coverage of the incident in the Vancouver Sun newspaper.
Sandra Burke came to Canada at six years of age with her Canadian father after her American mother died. He then abandoned her, and she was raised by her paternal grandmother in Toronto and P.E.I. She has been unable to produce copies of her entry documents to Canada, and as of September 2010[update], the Citizenship and Immigration office of Canada has refused to search their archives.
In 2010, Burke was 66 and was facing possible removal as well as losing old age benefits.
The daughter of a Canadian soldier and a British-born mother naturalized as a Canadian citizen in 1955, Jackie Scott was refused a citizenship card in 2005. She was born while her father was stationed in England during the war in 1945; her parents were unmarried at the time. In 2013, Jackie Scott took her case to the courts to seek judicial review of her exclusion.
Funk was born in Mexico to Canadian parents and moved back to Canada with them when she was two months old. Since then, Canada has been home and she holds no other citizenship. She was unaware of a law requiring people born overseas between 1977 and 1981 to parents also born abroad to apply to maintain their citizenship by the age of 28, and missed the deadline. The arcane rule was abolished in 2009, but the change was not retroactive. Funk joined the "Lost Canadians" group as she worked through the bureaucracy to regain her citizenship, which she regained on July 1, 2017.
New "Lost Canadians"
Bill C-37, which attempted to address the original phenomenon, included a provision that Canadian citizens by birth who were born outside Canada could not pass citizenship to their children born outside the country. This in turn has led to the potential creation of a new group of "Lost Canadians", with one notable example being Rachel Chandler, born in China to a Libya-born son of Canadian parents and a Chinese woman. Because her parents' marriage was not recognized by China at the time of her birth, she was not granted citizenship by China, and because she was born after Bill C-37 took effect, her father could not pass on his Canadian citizenship to her. This apparently rendered her stateless (which is against the Convention on the Rights of the Child, of which Canada is a signatory). Chandler now holds an Irish passport. She was entitled to Irish citizenship through her Irish-born paternal grandfather.
John Nicolas Fortin-Rodriguez of Magog, Quebec, born in Mexico in 2011 to Patrick Fortin (himself born abroad, the son of a Canadian soldier posted to CFB Lahr in Cold War-era West Germany) and Lucero Rodriguez (an immigrant from Mexico to Canada), holds a Mexican passport with a Canadian visa but has been denied Canadian citizenship due to being second generation born abroad.
In addition, some people born abroad in the second and subsequent generations not entitled to citizenship under previous versions of the Citizenship Act, remain excluded due to the wording of changes which were part of Bill C-24 (2014). This limitation does not apply to people born before 2009 in similar circumstances, whose ancestor was not regularized by C-24.
Notable "Lost Canadians"
- "450 'lost Canadians' caught in passport glitch: Finley". CBC News. 2007-02-19.
- Maughan, Chris (2007-02-26). "Children of soldiers among 'Lost Canadians'". The Star. Toronto. Retrieved 2010-05-11.
- Dobrota, Alex (2007-02-20). "'Lost' Canadians get citizenship". The Globe and Mail. Toronto.
- Penticton Western News Archived October 19, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
- "Manitoba 'border babies' officially become Canadians". CBC News. 2007-02-20.
- Don Chapman. "Who Are The Lost Canadians?". lostcanadian.com. Retrieved December 16, 2011.
- "Committee report urges citizenship for 'Lost Canadians'". CBC News. 2007-12-05. Retrieved 2013-01-03.
- Richard Foot; Peggy Ann Osborne (July 25, 2017). "Lost Canadians". The Canadian Encyclopedia.
- "Statement from the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration on Proposed Changes to the Citizenship Act" (Press release). CIC Canada. 2007-05-29. Archived from the original on 2007-06-03. Retrieved 2007-05-30.
- Notes for an Address by The Honourable Diane Finley, PC, MP: Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration “Main Estimates and Loss of Citizenship” Archived 2007-06-07 at the Wayback Machine, Ottawa, Ontario, May 29, 2007 (archived from the original on 2007-06-07).
- Staff (2007-05-29). "Citizenship limbo to end for war bride children". Archived from the original on 2007-11-18. Retrieved 2007-05-30.
- "Legislation to restore citizenship to lost Canadians passes". 2008-04-16. Retrieved 2008-04-24.
- CBCnews.ca News Staff (2008-04-17). "Bill to give citizenship to Lost Canadians passes". CBC News. Retrieved 2008-04-24.
- Terry Milewski (2009-10-22). "Still Lost Canadians Protest".[dead link]
- "How Ottawa cheats some Canadians out of citizenship". Vancouver Sun. 2009-03-11. Archived from the original on 2016-01-19. Retrieved 2013-01-03.
- Canadian Senate Hansard (2009-03-04). "Senate Hansard".[dead link]
- Canadian Senate Hansard (2009-03-10). "Senate Hansard".
- Lostcanadian.com (1997-02-27). "Supreme Court of Canada – Decisions". Archived from the original on 2011-08-14.
- Lostcanadian.com (2010-02-07). "Gov't Discriminates against Women".
- "War bride, 87, denied new passport". Vancouver Sun. 2010-09-04. Archived from the original on 2016-01-19. Retrieved 2013-01-03.
- Bramham, Daphne. "War bride finally gets her Canadian passport after years of being denied". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 2013-01-03.
- "Citizenship battle finally ends, but tangled web of rules remains". Vancouver Sun. 2010-09-13. Archived from the original on 2016-01-19. Retrieved 2013-01-03.
- Vancouver Sun – Are you sure you are Canadian? Can you prove it?[dead link]
- "Not your standard new Canadian". Vancouverobserver.com. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
- Keung, Nicholas (14 December 2010). "Woman granted citizenship after 59 years in Canada". Toronto Star. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
- Darren Fleet (2010-07-01). "Canada's bureaucracy still denies citizenship to children of soldiers". The Vancouver Observer. Retrieved 2013-01-03.
- "Woman's long fight to be recognized as a Canadian citizen heads to court". The Star. Toronto. 2013-07-19.
- "Court challenge gives hope to out-of-wedlock children of Canadian soldiers in Second World War | National Post". News.nationalpost.com. 2013-07-22. Retrieved 2014-06-04.
- "'It was a complete shock': Arcane law strips B.C. woman of Canadian citizenship". Cbc.ca. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
- "'I belong again,' says B.C. woman after regaining citizenship stripped by arcane law". Cbc.ca. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
- Vancouver Sun (2009-09-25). "Citizenship Act creates a 'stateless' child". Archived from the original on 2011-06-04.
- Branham, Daphne (October 9, 2010). "Rachel Chandler's status highlights a policy that could see thousands of stateless children born abroad to Canadians". The Vancouver Sun. LostCanadians.org. Archived from the original on March 24, 2012. Retrieved March 13, 2012.
- "Un père canadien de Magog incapable de faire reconnaître la citoyenneté de son bébé". ICI.Radio-Canada.ca. 2014-02-17. Retrieved 2014-06-04.
- "Understanding Bill C-24 and Recent Changes to the Citizenship Act – Canadian Civil Liberties Association". Canadian Civil Liberties Association. 2015-05-19. Retrieved 2016-06-01.