1706447442 Lost Canadians can finally get Canadian citizenship –

“Lost Canadians” can finally get Canadian citizenship –

A surfing prodigy, the children of a NASA engineer and a stateless baby are among the “lost Canadians” who have finally been granted Canadian citizenship. Until recently, foreign-born individuals of Canadian parents who were also born outside the country could not pass on their Canadian citizenship to their children. However, that reality will soon be a thing of the past as the Canadian government has decided not to appeal a historic Ontario Supreme Court decision in December.

I was on Skype and my parents asked my three-year-old daughter what she thought about getting her Canadian citizenship. She told them it was like a birthday, Timothy Setterfield said.

If this event is so important to this NASA engineer, it is because his two daughters are among those we call the lost Canadians.

Since birth, Canada has denied them Canadian citizenship because, like their father, they were born abroad, even though they are Canadian.

Timothy Setterfield, smiling, poses for the camera.

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A court ruling allowed Timothy Setterfield to pass on Canadian citizenship to his two foreign-born daughters like him. (archive photo)

Photo: Courtesy of Timothy Setterfield

I lived in Canada for 21 years. I spent the most formative years of my life there and feel Canadian. I have found that most Canadians can declare their nationality [mais pas moi] Very unfair, explains Mr. Setterfield, who is one of the 72 finalists selected by the Canadian Space Agency in its 2017 recruitment campaign and has been living in the United States for several years.

A law that is considered unconstitutional

Mr. Setterfield is one of seven multigenerational families in Canada, Dubai, Hong Kong, Japan and the United States that have challenged the so-called second-generation exclusion rule in court in Canada.

They won their case in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in December.

Emma Kenyon plays with her son in a Toronto park.

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Emma Kenyon and her husband had to pay thousands of dollars in legal fees to obtain the necessary documents to return their stateless child to Toronto before he was finally granted Canadian citizenship.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Ken Townsend

The court ruled that it was unconstitutional for Canada to deny automatic citizenship to children born abroad whose parents were also born outside the territory but have a substantial connection to Canada. The ruling assumes that current law creates two classes of citizens, one of which prevents the transfer of citizenship by descent.

On Monday, the Canadian government finally announced that it accepted the Ontario court's ruling. Ottawa will therefore not appeal the decision.

This law, in its current form, has unacceptable consequences for Canadians whose children were born abroad.

Mr. Miller at a press conference.

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Federal Minister Marc Miller announced in a press release that he was committed to making the naturalization process transparent and fair. (Archive)

Photo: The Canadian Press / Christine Muschi

Six months to change the law

“We are relieved because it was a very long battle for my clients,” says constitutional lawyer Sujit Choudhry, who represents the seven families.

The court gave the federal government six months to change the current law. Until then, the old law remains in effect, except for the seven families represented in the lawsuit.

Me Choudhry explains that Ottawa particularly needs to consider how to assess a substantial connection with Canada. For example, the government could take into account the time the affected individuals spend in the country.

Sujit Choudhry.

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Lawyer Sujit Choudhry said his clients were relieved that the legal process was over.

Photo: CBC News / Doug Husby

The lawyer says he has been inundated with emails from descendants of foreign-born Canadians seeking Canadian citizenship since the Ontario Supreme Court ruling in December.

He calls on Ottawa to act.

It is unclear what the government's plans are. He said he had to act quickly and launch a communication campaign.

Fate was turned upside down

This historic ruling will undoubtedly have important consequences for the lives of many foreign-born children of Canadians.

For Abram Sawatsky, whose mother is a Canadian born abroad, the verdict is a relief. He left his native Bolivia five years ago in search of a better life for his family, but without Canadian citizenship, working in Canada is very complicated.

“I try to contribute to society and make a difference, but in hindsight maybe we should have done things differently,” laments the young father.

Erin Brooks raises the Canadian flag during a surfing competition on the beach.

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American surfer Erin Brooks, whose family is from Montreal, hopes to represent Canada at the 2024 Olympics.

Photo: Provided by Jeff Brooks

American surfer Erin Brooks, who is also among those lost Canadians, has just received Canadian citizenship thanks to an exemption from the federal Ministry of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.

If she manages to qualify, she can represent Canada at the next Summer Olympics.

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