(Photo Credit: Andrea Andres)
Please read my story, sign my petition, and help me spread the word. A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian!
This petition began when John McCallum was the Minister. John stepped down from this position in January of 2017 and Ahmed Hussen is the new Citizenship and Immigration Minister. The new Minister is aware of this portfolio.
Dear Honourable John McCallum,
John, like you, I often operate out of principle and I believe in making things right. I have read your words and I believe you are a man of integrity. I’m reaching out to you and I plead with you to read my letter and act promptly to restore my Canadian citizenship.
Yesterday I was a Canadian Citizen, today I’m not, and I did nothing to warrant my citizenship being taken away from me. I apparently fall under an archaic citizenship act, specifically section 8 of the 1977 citizenship act. In April of 2016 I found out that I have not been a Canadian citizen since January 14th, 2008. Citizenship and Immigration (CIC) says I failed to retain my citizenship prior to my 28th birthday therefore I lost my citizenship. Here’s the thing: in order to have known that I was to take steps to retain my citizenship means that someone needed to inform me of this in the first place and I promise you, no one did. If I was notified, I would like to know when, where, and how. My parents nor I have ever received any communication in regards to this. Had I been given the opportunity to retain my citizenship, I would have done so promptly.
March of 1980, when I was only two months old, my parents auctioned off most of their possessions and packed only what they needed along with their five children into a pickup truck and drove from northern Mexico to southern Canada for a better life. After some time we all received Canadian Citizenship and we’ve been here ever since. I am the youngest of five children, we all obtained our citizenship the exact same way but I’m the only one who falls into this act. I have lived here my entire life and have taken the obligations and privileges of Canadian Citizenship seriously. Canadian is the only way I know how to be.
It is not okay to go check your mailbox and find a letter from Citizenship and Immigration tucked in and amongst the London Drugs, Subway, and Canadian Tire sales flyers. I opened the letter anticipating it would be my proof of Canadian citizenship, but instead, I found out that not only have I not been a Canadian citizen since 2008, but also, I have no legal status in Canada. I lost my breathe and my knees felt as though they might give out. My face must have turned white because people were looking at me with concern in their eyes. My hands shook and hot tears welled up in my eyes. How could this be? This must be a mistake.
Aside from the absurdity and injustice of it all. What baffles me is that in the last eight years, with no legal status in Canada whatsoever, I have been issued two passports, I have provincial health care (we pay for it every month), I registered to vote and voted in provincial and federal elections, I have filed taxes every single year, we have traveled abroad for vacations and I have always been allowed to enter back into Canada, all with no issues. There have been zero red flags for me. No government official has ever told me that I needed to look into this, not until I applied to replace my proof of citizenship card. Had I not applied to replace my misplaced citizenship card I still wouldn’t know and none of this would be an issue.
My entire life is here in Canada. My husband and I own our home and have the privilege of being a part of this amazing community called Squamish, British Columbia. We live here with our five year old labrador Charli and our twenty-one year old niece. I work in private practice as a Professional Registered Counsellor and my husband Matt works as Director of Operations in the technology field. I grew up in a small southern Manitoba community where I attended Canadian public schools from kindergarten to highschool and then on to post secondary school in my twenties and thirties. My credit cards are Canadian, my banking (daily transactions, bank loans, mortgage, etc): only Canadian. My drivers license and car insurance: Canadian. All of my friends and family are Canadian. Phone numbers and addresses: all Canadian. I know the harshness of Manitoba winters: my sister Eva passed away on an icy winter highway in 2007 and I know the beauty of British Columbia summers. I could go on and on about just how Canadian I am but I think you get the picture.
Canadian is not who I am but it is what I am. Canadian is the only way I know how to live and move around in my life. I have no ties to Mexico other than my birth certificate. Although Mexico is a beautiful country with beautiful people and a rich culture, I’ve never been tempted to seek citizenship in a country that is run by corrupt police and drug lords. Canada has provided a safe place for me grow into myself, find my voice and live out my passion and calling. Canada has afforded me many freedoms and I never take that for granted.
John, you were quoted saying "If one believes that a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian … those principles must be applied universally.". I agree wholeheartedly. But why then, does the repealing of the act that revoked Zakaria Amara’s Canadian citizenship, restore his citizenship but the repealing of the act that I fell into does not restore my citizenship? Please explain to me how a convicted terrorist with dual citizenship cannot have his Canadian citizenship revoked but a law abiding, contributing member to society, like myself with no dual citizenship can have citizenship taken away? Why is Amara’s citizenship restored and I have to go through an arduous process to become a Canadian, again? This is less about whether or not I agree with the restoration of Amara's citizenship and more about the inequality this picture paints.
"It is a question of principle...We do not need an additional set of rules that would create two classes of citizen." - Honourable John McCallum
I am calling on you, John McCallum, to practice the compassion I know you believe in, and not only restore my citizenship but also change section 8 of the 1977 citizenship act to take into consideration people like me who were granted citizenship as infants and children and have lived in Canada their whole lives. Many people are not aware of this act. CIC believes we were all notified but that is not accurate. Moreover, the act was repealed in 2009 but this did not help those of us who had already lost citizenship under the act. I implore you to take a look at this and revise it so it helps people like me.
I recently heard Prime Minister Justin Trudeau use words like “compassionate” and “generous” to describe Canada and I believe that describes us well. I have always been proud to be Canadian and I hope I will be again. I hope when you say “a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian”, that includes me.
I look forward to your response.