Sun. Feb 25th, 2024

Part of the Citizenship Act creates two categories of citizens, the Ontario Superior Court rules.

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Emma Kenyon and Daniel Warelis gave birth to their first son in Hong Kong. Both parents are Canadians born abroad to parents also born outside the country. Due to Chinese laws, their son Darcy also does not have Chinese citizenship. He was therefore born stateless. The two Torontonians are part of seven families represented by lawyer Sujit Shoudhry.

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A surfer prodigy, a NASA engineer's children and a stateless baby are among the “lost Canadians” who have finally been granted Canadian citizenship. Until recently, people born abroad to Canadian parents who were also born outside the country could not pass on their Canadian citizenship to their children. However, this reality will soon be a thing of the past since the Canadian government has decided not to appeal a historic decision of the Superior Court of Ontario rendered in December.

I was on Skype and my parents asked my 3 year old daughter how she felt about receiving 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 known as the lost Canadians.

Since their birth, Canada has refused them Canadian citizenship because they were born abroad, like their father, although Canadian.

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A court ruling allowed Timothy Setterfield to pass on Canadian citizenship to his two daughters born outside the country, like him . (File photo)

I lived in Canada for 21 years. I spent the most formative years of my life there and I feel Canadian. I found the fact that most Canadians could pass on their nationality [but not me] very unfair, says Mr. Setterfield, who is one of 72 finalists chosen by the Canadian Space Agency in its 2017 recruitment campaign and who lives in the United States for several years.

Mr. Setterfield is one of seven multi-generational families in Canada, Dubai, Hong Kong, Japan and the United States who have challenged the so-called exclusionary rule in court of Canada's second generation.

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In December, they won their case in front of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

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

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">The court ruled that it was unconstitutional for Canada to deny automatic citizenship to children born abroad to parents also born outside the territory, but who have a substantial connection to Canada. The judgment considers that the current law creates two classes of citizens, one of which prevents the transmission of citizenship by descent.

On Monday, the Canadian government finally announced that he accepted the judgment of the Ontario Court. Ottawa will therefore not appeal the decision.

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

A quote from Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

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Federal Minister Marc Miller indicated in a press release that he is committed to making the citizenship process transparent and fair. (Archives)

We are relieved because this has been 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 suit.

Me Choudhry explains that Ottawa will have to consider in particular how to assess what constitutes a substantial link with Canada. The government could, for example, consider the time spent in the country by the individuals concerned.

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According to lawyer Sujit Choudhry, his clients say they are relieved that the legal process is over.

The lawyer says he has been inundated with emails from descendants of Canadians born abroad wishing to obtain Canadian citizenship, since the Ontario Superior Court judgment was rendered in December .

He urges Ottawa to act.

It is unclear what the government's plans are. He must act quickly and set up a communication campaign, he said.

This historic judgment will undoubtedly have important consequences in life many children of Canadians born abroad.

For Abram Sawatsky, whose mother is a Canadian born outside the country, the ruling is a relief. He left his native Bolivia in search of a better life for his family 5 years ago, 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.

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

American surfer Erin Brooks, who is also one of these lost Canadians, has just obtained Canadian citizenship thanks to an exemption granted by the federal ministry of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.

If she succeeds in qualifying, she will therefore be able to represent Canada at the next Olympic Games summer.

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