B.C. woman re­gains Canadian ci­ti­zen­ship stripped by ar­cane law

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - CANADA -

Byrdie Funk marked Canada Day by tak­ing a ci­ti­zen­ship oath, but un­like the 150 peo­ple around her who also raised their right arm to do the same, she is hardly a new­comer.

Funk, who is a third-gen­er­a­tion Canadian, be­came a first­gen­er­a­tion Canadian Satur­day af­ter she re­gained her ci­ti­zen­ship that was stripped from her just over a year ago by an ar­cane law.

“I have al­ways been part of the Canadian fam­ily, I have al­ways cho­sen Canada and for me to­day, it seems more like Canada has cho­sen me and I be­long again,’’ she said fol­low­ing the cer­e­mony at Canada Place in Van­cou­ver.

Funk, 37, was born in Mexico to Canadian par­ents and they moved back to Canada when she was just two months old. Since then, Canada has been home and she holds no other ci­ti­zen­ship.

She was un­aware of a law that re­quires peo­ple born over­seas be­tween 1977 and 1981 to par­ents who were also born abroad to ap­ply to main­tain their ci­ti­zen­ship by the age of 28, and missed the dead­line.

Los­ing her ci­ti­zen­ship meant she couldn’t leave Canada and couldn’t vote. But Funk said she was lucky that her ac­cess to pub­lic health care wasn’t stripped from her.

She joined a group “Lost Cana­di­ans’’ as she worked through the bu­reau­cracy to re­gain her ci­ti­zen­ship, and said she was sur­prised to dis­cover how many other peo­ple were in the same boat.

Don Chap­man, who cham­pi­ons the cause of so-called Lost Cana­di­ans, said, “The laws have be­come so con­vo­luted.’’

He said ar­chaic laws that blocked chil­dren of non-Canadian fathers from gain­ing ci­ti­zen­ship or sim­ply weren’t prop­erly reg­is­tered at a hos­pi­tal at birth con­tinue to pose prob­lems for peo­ple to­day.

“We need to not just close the gaps, we need a new ci­ti­zen­ship act,’’ he sug­gested as a so­lu­tion.

Chap­man was one of many friends and fam­ily mem­bers who cel­e­brated Funk’s new­found ci­ti­zen­ship, which he called “a vic­tory.’’

Al­though Funk has her ci­ti­zen­ship back in hand, she said the or­deal is not quite over yet.

She said she’s un­sure how her con­tri­bu­tions to the Canadian Pen­sion Plan will be cal­cu­lated and whether los­ing and re­gain­ing ci­ti­zen­ship means her past con­tri­bu­tions are void.

“I don’t think any­body re­ally has the an­swers, that’s why we have to con­tinue to ad­vo­cate for change,’’ she said.

The en­tire or­deal is one she said should never have hap­pened in the first place.

“No one should ever get a let­ter in the mail say­ing, ‘Sorry, you no longer be­long here.’ That was prob­a­bly the hard­est part,’’ she said.

Funk in­tends con­tinue to fight for oth­ers who lose ci­ti­zen­ship over ar­chaic poli­cies and she said wants in the long term to see the laws re-writ­ten.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.