Good morning, Mr. Chair and honourable members. Thank you for inviting me here today. It is a great honour to speak to you and share my story about my struggles in trying to get my Canadian citizenship back.
Before I begin my story, I must say that my story is not as compelling and critical as the stateless Canadians like Mrs. Barbara Porteous and the 450 or more people caught in that terrible dilemma. My story is also not as critical as Joe Taylor's situation. I, like the others, take my citizenship very seriously, and it is extremely important to me.
I have listened to Don Chapman, Sheila Walshe, and Joe Taylor speak before your committee over the past months. I am here today because I was born in Canada and my mother was a World War II war bride, but I lost my Canadian citizenship. Also, I was given a Canadian passport in 2005, which I've brought for you to see today. When we thought Bill S-2 passed, I answered every question on the passport form honestly and was given assistance with the forms by a member of Parliament's secretary, who also coincidentally fell under the lost Canadian category.
In 1948 I was born in Grace Hospital in Vancouver, Canada, to parents who both believed they were Canadian citizens. I am the daughter of a Royal Canadian Air Force hero from World War II who brought his bride from England to live in his beloved country, Canada. My mother came to join my father in Canada from England on the Georgic ship on July 15, 1946. My father was returned to Canada the previous year, 1945, after serving in the RCAF. Both my mother and grandmother were world war brides, my grandmother from World War I and my mother from World War II.
After the war, my father returned to university and graduated in 1948 from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and he became an accountant, like his father before him. My grandfather was an accountant for the Canadian railway. After my father graduated from UBC and became an accountant in Canada, my father had to travel a lot doing audits for various companies. He remained an accountant throughout his life, was once a partner with Price Waterhouse, and eventually owned his own firm.
In 1951 my parents left Canada to go to the United States for employment reasons, not because they didn't want to remain in Canada. We left all our family in Canada when we moved to the States, as we had no family at that time in the United States. I have a large family in Canada, consisting of 11 first cousins and numerous aunts and uncles, although sadly several have passed away.
My family in Canada goes back to my great-grandfather, who brought his family to Canada from Scotland and built homes in the Vancouver area. My aunts, uncles, and cousins were born in Canada, but who knows who is Canadian in our family, after all I heard recently from the hearings on Canadian citizenship? Now I wonder whether my father, let alone my mother, was a Canadian citizen. Because my parents took me to another country, I automatically, as a child, lost my Canadian citizenship due to Canada's citizenship law at the time.
I am very proud of my Canadian roots. I have a Canadian flag that I fly outside my home. I have loved visiting my large family in Canada over the years.
About 35 years ago I tried to get information about how to get my Canadian citizen certificate, while I still believed I was Canadian. When I discovered I was not a Canadian citizen, again I worked very hard for years trying to get back my Canadian citizenship. Fortunately, two or three years ago I wrote about my situation on a Canadian citizenship chat board. Mr. Don Chapman heard about me and contacted me. I was thrilled to hear from Don, as I had someone I could share my story with about the loss of my Canadian citizenship. Before that, I felt I was alone in my struggles, fighting the Canadian bureaucracy.
When I say “fighting the bureaucracy”, I mean that each time I contacted the Canadian citizenship offices in Canada or an embassy or a consulate in the U.S., I was told many different stories about my status.
Your citizenship offices did not know or understand my status. Some of the offices told me that if you were born in Canada you were a Canadian citizen, period. Family, friends, and strangers I meet can't believe that I and so many others do not have Canadian citizenship when I tell them my story. For many, many years I believed I was Canadian, only to discover that I was stripped of my Canadian citizenship against my will and against my knowledge.
In researching to prepare for this meeting today, I found letters, photographs, and memorabilia that my parents saved over their 50-year marriage. I discovered a lot of information about my family. In coming here today, I had to decide just how much documentation and photographs I would bring to the committee.
My parents wrote to one another every day from the day they met in England, and even years later if they were apart, while my father was working or my mother took me back to Canada to visit family. I have hundreds of letters they wrote to one another. The letters, photographs, and memorabilia tell quite the history during and after the war.
Although my appearance today is about me and my loss of Canadian citizenship, it begins with my parents and their marriage in London in 1942, which lasted 50 years, until my mother sadly passed away in 1992. My father passed away in 1999. My father died before he could see me become a Canadian citizen again. My parents are missed very much by their family.
I am telling you the information about my parents because I believe it is wrong that my father fought for this country and made an enormous contribution to the safety and well-being of all who have come after--war heroes like my father. My mother was a World War II war bride. I was born in Canada, and yet I have had such difficulty obtaining my Canadian citizenship. I am sure my father would be disappointed with the Canadian government for the way they are treating his daughter after what he did for Canada. My father served proudly for this country.
As I stated, I am the daughter of a World War II Canadian war hero who served in the Royal Canadian Air Force as a pilot and then as a navigator specializing in radar. I brought with me today photographs of my father personally receiving the DFC from King George VI. He received the DFC twice, once in 1944 and again in 1945. I also brought many of the newspaper clippings that were published in Canada and England about my father's distinguished flying career. My father received other decorations for his service to the RCAF.
I could have filled a suitcase with many of the original items saved about my father over the years he served in the RCAF, but I thought the committee did not have the time or interest in seeing them all and I did not want to risk losing them. I did not bring the numerous letters sent from the Canadian and British governments for his heroism during World War II. I did bring my original, small Canadian birth certificate, a copy of my original birth certificate from 1948, and my Canadian passport, which was issued to me while I was in Canada for Canada Day in 2005. I received my passport when Bill S-2 was introduced by MP John Reynolds and received royal assent. I thought I was finally a Canadian citizen again. The passport office also believed I was a Canadian citizen, and that is why I was issued a Canadian passport. This is just another example of how one department does not know what the other department is doing.
I also brought copies of my mother's and father's U.S. certificate of naturalization documents, issued in May of 1957, and a copy of my U.S. certificate of citizenship that I received in 1973. I must say that I was very reluctant to get the U.S. certificate of citizenship in 1973, when I was 25 years old, as I wanted to believe that I was still a Canadian citizen.
Growing up, my parents always told me that when I turned 21, I could choose either Canadian or U.S. citizenship, which was their understanding of the law at that time. I felt strongly that I did not want to give up my Canadian citizenship.
Today I've brought my parents' original expired Canadian passports--my mother's, issued in 1946, and my father's original Canadian passport, which was issued in 1951. Of note is the national status shown in my parents' Canadian passports. My father's states: “Canadian citizen under Section 9-1-b of the Canadian Citizenship Act”. And my mother's states: “British subject by birth. Wife of a British subject.”
I also brought a copy of a letter written by my mother to my father in January of 1951 while my father was away working as an accountant in Alberta.