Children of those serving the country may not be Canadian
Last Updated March 2007
The so-called military brats are one of the single largest groups affected by anomalies in Canada's original citizenship law.
They got their name because the majority were born during the Cold War on Canadian military bases abroad. Others are the children of Canadians who worked abroad for the diplomatic corps or on other government work.
Christine Eden is one of those people, and also the chair of an Armed Forces committee that deals with lost Canadians in the military. She says the problem arose due to a simple foul-up in the paperwork by federal bureaucrats.
Before 1977, all Canadians who had children abroad were required to secure their children's citizenships with a form known as the Registration of Birth Abroad. In the case of children born on military bases, those forms were collected and filed by the Armed Forces.
After 1977, the laws about registration changed, and anyone born abroad was required to obtain a certificate of Canadian citizenship. Eden says that, in many cases, Citizenship and Immigration Canada did not tell the affected people of the new requirement.
"The problem is, these people are clearly Canadians, but they cannot prove they are Canadians," Eden says. "It's a big problem because if we're not Canadian, then we're citizens of the country of our birth — and I'm already hearing about some men who have been served draft notices by those countries."
Eden says at least two active soldiers have lost their citizenships. She too was affected, when she couldn't prove her Canadian status and was detained for eight hours at the U.S. border.
While the numbers are large, the impact on most military brats is often less extreme than for other categories of lost Canadians. Because the military or CIC can often track down the original Registration of Birth Abroad, it is often a case of proving citizenship, rather than losing it and having to apply to become an immigrant.
- Main page
- The Chattel Children: up to 20,000 in Canada, 85,000 living in the U.S.
- Border Babies: minimum 10,000 in Canada
- War Brides: potentially 25-35,000 in Canada
- War Babies: Between 6,000 and 20,000 living in Canada
- Born-Abroad Babies pre-1977: up to 32,000
- Born-Abroad Babies post-1977: up to 42,000
- Illegitimate Canadians: up to 30,000 Mennonite Canadians
- Military Brats: 110,000, mostly in Canada
- CBC coverage
- Paul Hunter reports on lost Canadians for the National (runs 2:55)
- Gary Symons reports on war babies for the World at Six (runs 4:16)