Manitoba

Winnipeg mother relieved she'll get her citizenship back

​A Winnipeg mother, who received a letter from the government telling her she wasn’t entitled to Canadian citizenship, has since been told she’ll be invited to a citizenship ceremony where she’ll be able to resume her Canadian identity.

Government had sent letter saying she was no longer entitled to citizenship

Anneliese Demos got a letter in the mail earlier this month saying she was no longer entitled to citizenship. She's relieved she'll be able to become Canadian again and get to stay with her family. (Travis Golby/CBC)

​A Winnipeg mother, who received a letter from the government telling her she wasn't entitled to Canadian citizenship, has since been told she'll be able to resume her Canadian identity.

"I'm glad I get to stay," said Anneliese Demos, who hails from Paraguay and has lived in Canada since she was two-years-old.

On Friday Demos got a one-paragraph email from an analyst with Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada telling her the news — five days after CBC News published a story about her ordeal with the department.

In a letter she received earlier this month, the registrar of citizenship told Demos the government had changed its records to reflect the fact she no longer held citizenship in addition to cancelling a citizenship certificate she held.

Demos is a so-called "Lost Canadian" due to a law that required second-generation Canadians who were born outside Canada to re-apply for citizenship before turning 28. Demos said she wasn't aware of the law.
Anneliese Demos came to Canada with her family at age two. (Julianne Runne/CBC)

The law has impacted many Mennonites, including two of Demos' siblings, and was repealed in 2009 by the Harper government. However, the repeal wasn't retroactive so people like Demos have continued to find out later in life they don't hold citizenship.

The new email Demos received from the analyst said the minister's delegate had granted her resumption of citizenship, which she applied for last year.

The email also says her case would be forwarded to the government's Winnipeg citizenship office, who would contact her with details about attending a ceremony where she will take an oath to become Canadian.

"It's about time and it better be correct this time," said Demos.

John Demos said he was relieved when his wife got the email. "It's hard to work when you got that hanging over your head." (Travis Golby/CBC)
John Demos said he was relieved when his wife got the email. "It's hard to work when you got that hanging over your head."

A spokesperson for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said the department contacted Demos numerous times about her citizenship constellation which would have happened when she turned 28, but Demos, who grew up in foster care, disputed that.

"I personally never got anything." 

Government calls situation "complex"

The government hasn't provided details about how Demos was able to get a Canadian passport when she wasn't a citizen only saying she received her passport before her citizenship was cancelled.

Demos has had the passport since 2013, still carries her government-issued ID from when she was two, a SIN card and a citizenship certificate that the government told her earlier this month was void.

"How can you get a passport when you have no citizenship?" Demos asked.

The citizenship spokesperson called the situation "a complex case" in an email.

Bill Janzen, an advocate for Lost Canadians, told CBC he's worked on over 200 Lost Canadian cases alone since retiring from the Mennonite Central Committee in 2008.

"It's sad," said Demos. 

"We shouldn't have to go to the media to get it fixed."​

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

​Austin Grabish is a reporter for CBC News in Winnipeg. Since joining CBC in 2016, he's covered several major stories. Some of his career highlights have been documenting the plight of asylum seekers leaving America in the dead of winter for Canada and the 2019 manhunt for two teenage murder suspects. In 2021, he won an RTDNA Canada award for his investigative reporting on the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, which triggered change. Have a story idea? Email: austin.grabish@cbc.ca

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