A passport to citizenship

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Josh Pennell
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Woman finds out she’s not Canadian

A common tale it is not. One of the stories out of the citizens’ representative year-end report bears retelling for its uniqueness, if nothing else.

The Office of the Citizens’ Representative was established by the House of Assembly in 2002 as an independent complaint and investigation mediation office.

It recently published its sixth annual digest.

In one incident, a woman (who will remain anonymous) was born in the United States to a Newfoundland-born mother. The child and her mother both returned to this province and, upon arrival, the child was placed in foster care where she stayed for four years.

At that time she was adopted by two people who either didn’t think or didn’t know they had to apply for the child’s Canadian citizenship.

Forty years later, the woman applied for a passport only to be told that she is not a Canadian citizen and, therefore, ineligible for a passport.

“It was a case where you could fall through the cracks,” says Barry Fleming, the citizens’ representative.

0ºIn this case, instead of directly solving the problem, Fleming and his office helped co-ordinate the efforts of various other government departments.

The woman knew her biological mother was from Newfoundland and because of that she was eligible for her citizenship. She just needed her mother’s birth certificate. Her mother, however, had died.

Post-Adoption Services contacted Citizenship and Immigration Canada and spoke on the woman’s behalf. She got her citizenship and her passport.

As the citizens’ representative’s annual report notes, “A long overdue vacation followed.”

josh.pennell@thetelegram.com

Watch this week and next for other stories by Josh Pennell and Andrew Robinson from the citizens’ representative report.

Organizations: Office of the Citizens, Post-Adoption Services, Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Geographic location: Newfoundland, United States

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