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Orca calf swims out of lagoon after being trapped for a month – CBC.ca

 Achi-News

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Last September, 32-year-old Arielle Townsend came home to a letter from the federal immigration department stating that her Canadian citizenship was at risk of being revoked.

Townsend, who lives in Ajax, Ont., was “completely blind.”

She came to Canada as a baby in 1992. She was not yet a year old when the Mississauga, Ont., citizenship office gave her a citizen card.

“I was shocked and in complete disbelief,” he said. “It’s almost like you go to bed as one person, and then you wake up and you’re like, ‘I’m a completely different person.'”

Townsend has since hired lawyers and responded to a letter from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), which told her: “There is information on your file indicating that you may not be entitled to a Canadian citizenship certificate issued to you.”

Townsend and her lawyers have provided all the facts in response to the government, including that they believe the government made a mistake and that her mother was a citizen at birth.

But it’s been five months, and she hasn’t had an answer.

Townsend cannot leave the country, because if the government decides to cancel her citizenship – as the official letter says is a possibility – she could be left without a state.

“Detaining someone suspended in this state is very insensitive,” said Audrey Macklin, chair of human rights law at the University of Toronto.

“It would be unconscionable to deprive her of her citizenship and try to treat her… as if she had just stepped off the plane yesterday.”

From Jamaica to Canada

According to the statement of facts Townsend’s lawyers have submitted to the government, her family applied for Canadian citizenship back in January 1991.

At that time, Townsend’s mother had been living in the country for several years. She soon became pregnant and traveled to Jamaica, where she could benefit from more family support in the run-up to Townsend’s birth.

Townsend’s mother’s family in Canada took their citizenship oath in July, around which time Townsend’s mother was given a citizenship card.

Townsend was born in Jamaica in October 1991.

A woman
Pictured on the left, Arielle Townsend as a baby. Pictured right, Townsend (centre) after she graduated from the University of Toronto with her grandmother Susan (right) and mother Nichola (left). (Submitted by Arielle Townsend)

When he was only a few months old, in January 1992, Townsend’s mother returned to Canada for a short time, without her, to sort out her citizenship papers.

According to the statement of facts, she went to the citizenship office in Mississauga, reported Townsend’s birth and asked how she could get status for her daughter, so she could fly her to Canada.

The citizenship officer told Townsend’s mother, according to what Townsend’s mother has reported in a signed affidavit, that there was no need to apply for citizenship, because her mother was already a citizen.

Townsend’s mother brought her home to Canada in April 1992. She received her official citizenship card in August.

‘Twilight Zone Episode’

Townsend’s lawyer, Daniel Kingwell, says this is a case where the family asked the right questions and followed the rules.

“She had lived her whole life as a Canadian citizen, and then it’s like a Twilight Zone episode,” he said.

“You wake up one day and the government says you’re not a citizen.”

In the IRCC letter to Townsend, seen by CBC Toronto, the government says it believes Townsend was born before her mother became a citizen – even though Townsend was born in October 1991 and her mother became a citizen in July 1991.

Kingwell says he is asking the IRCC to acknowledge that their concerns about Townsend’s status are the result of a mistake made by the IRCC, not Townsend or her mother.

“She should either be able to keep her citizenship, or they should give her citizenship on their special compassionate grounds,” he said.

Kingwell says the lack of response so far is “par for the course” – per Immigration Canada websiteprocessing for citizenship certificate applications currently takes around seven months.

“Canada is notorious for the extraordinary delays and opacity of its processes,” Macklin said.

Last fall, the auditor general report release noting that the federal government’s outdated systems threaten their service delivery, and that the government needs to improve its management of immigration programs to reduce permanent residency backlogs.

“One explanation is that they never have enough resources,” Macklin said. “But the result, for whatever the reasons, is a kind of culture of disrespect.”

Macklin says the IRCC owes Townsend an answer and, at the very least, respect.

A spokesperson for the IRCC told CBC Toronto that the IRCC cannot comment on individual cases.

Meanwhile, Townsend says she feels helpless.

“I don’t know how they expect me to prove something I don’t have the ability to prove.”

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