‘Not Canadian enough:’ Edmonton woman’s girls denied citizenship under old law

Conservatives took away right to pass on citizenship to your children unless they’re born in Canada

Vicki Maruyama plays with her daughters Akari, centre, and Arisa, left, in Edmonton on Wednesday, February 20, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)

Vicki Maruyama plays with her daughters Akari, centre, and Arisa, left, in Edmonton on Wednesday, February 20, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)

A woman in Alberta says she feels like she’s not Canadian enough after her daughters were denied citizenship.

Victoria Maruyama was born in Hong Kong and, because her father was Canadian, has been a Canadian citizen since she was a baby. When she was a year old, the family moved to Edmonton where she grew up.

At the age of 22, she went to Japan to teach English.

“I met my kids’ dad,” Maruyama said in an interview with The Canadian Press. “The plan was just to teach English throughout Asia, move around from one country to the next, but he kind of scotched my plans.”

She was seven months pregnant with their first daughter, Akari, in 2009 when Conservative government amendments to the citizenship laws took away her right to pass on citizenship to her children unless they were born in Canada.

By that time, it was too late in her pregnancy to fly back to Canada. Her second daughter, Arisa, was also born in Japan.

READ MORE: Feds studying birth tourism as new data shows higher non-resident birth rates

The girls are now seven and nine years old and, despite moving back to Edmonton almost two years ago, Maruyama is still fighting for them to become Canadian.

“We had to struggle to get my kids in school. We had to fight to get them health care. They had no health care for months. Then they had it for six months and then they were stripped of it again,” she said.

“It should be my right to come home with my children and for them to be educated and … have health care and vaccinations and all those basic things.”

A January letter from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada notes Akari and Arisa were rejected because “they are not stateless, will not face special and unusual hardship if you are not granted Canadian citizenship and you have not provided services of exceptional value to Canada.”

Officials with the federal department said in a statement that decision-makers determined that criteria for citizenship have not been met.

“As part of the determination, the best interests of the child were considered,” they said in an email. “However, sufficient evidence was not provided to demonstrate that the children have been denied access to basic services in Canada.”

Maruyama’s lawyer, Charles Gibson, has filed an application for a judicial review in Federal Court. He argues that the rejection is unlawful and that the Citizenship Act is discriminatory.

“It creates two classes of Canadian citizens,” he says in court documents. “One class that can perpetually pass on or inherit Canadian citizenship and one that cannot. The Citizenship Act precludes the applicant’s mother from passing … on her Canadian citizenship to the applicant.”

When Justin Trudeau was citizenship and immigration critic, he promised in a March 2011 news release to change the “anachronistic” law.

But Morgan said the Liberal government still hasn’t addressed the loophole for second-generation Canadians born abroad.

“There’s Trudeau going a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian, and no, no and no,” said Chapman, who noted the Conservative Opposition has also been silent on the issue. “They all talk about refugees and immigrants, but no one is talking about this.”

Maruyama said if they aren’t able to get citizenship, her girls could apply for permanent residence status as immigrants — a possibility confirmed by the federal Immigration Department.

“They would have a higher level of citizenship than me because they (could) … pass on citizenship to their children,” she said. ”But me living here 20-some years is not enough.

“Not Canadian enough.”

Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Majagaleehl Gali Aks Elementary School in Hazelton is being shut down for a week by the Gitanmaax Band Council following a confirmation of a COVID-19 exposure there on Feb. 26. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Hazelton school COVID-19 closure extended one week

With spring break on horizon, Majagaleehl Gali Aks Elementary will be closed to end of March

There were 31 new COVID-19 cases in the Terrace local health area during the week of Feb. 21 to Feb. 27, 2021. (BC Centre for Disease Control)
Northwest B.C. remains a COVID-19 hot spot

There were 31 new cases reported in the Terrace local health area between Feb. 21 and Feb. 27

Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs president and Grand Chief Stweart Phillip speaking at a rally with chiefs from around B.C. outside of the Coastal GasLink pipeline route in 2019. The UBCIC said in an open letter to Terrace city council that it was “heartbroken” to hear about the situation. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs ‘heartbroken’ by McCallum-Miller resignation

Terrace’s first Indigenous councillor resigned Feb. 22, alleging systemic racism

Terrace RCMP found gloves containing suspected methamphetamine and purple fentanyl following a traffic stop on the afternoon of March 2, 2021. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Terrace RCMP seize suspected methamphetamine, fentanyl following traffic stop

Police observed passenger of the vehicle trying to hide bags of white substance between their legs

General voting day for the Terrace trustee by-election is Saturday, March 6 at the Terrace Sportsplex Multipurpose Room from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Black Press file photo)
Terrace trustee by-election: Meet the candidates

General voting day is March 6 at the Terrace Sportsplex Multipurpose Room from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Shiromali Krishnaraj arrives from India and receives a mandatory COVID-19 test at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Monday, Feb. 1, 2021. B.C.’s approved rapid tests also use a nasal swab, with a machine to scan for COVID-19 antibodies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C.’s rapid COVID-19 tests have produced only two positive results

Tests deployed for exposures in schools, outbreaks in care homes, jails

FILE – An air ambulance helicopter takes off from the helipad at West Coast General Hospital in Port Alberni, B.C. Although calls for an air ambulance are down in 2020, Port Alberni is one of the three highest regions for calls on Vancouver Island (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
BREAKING: Helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

The Nanaimo bar display at the Nanaimo Museum. (City of Nanaimo Instagram)
City of Nanaimo points to correct recipe after New York Times botches batch of bars

City addresses ‘controversy’ around dessert square’s layers

A man holds a picture of Chantel Moore during a healing gathering at the B.C. Legislature in Victoria on June 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. First Nation demands transparency in probe into second fatal RCMP shooting

‘Police have killed more Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation members than COVID’

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

The B.C. Supreme Court ruled Feb. 26 that the estate of deceased Sooke man and Hells Angels prospect Michael Widner is to be divided between his wife and his secret spouse. (Black Press Media file photo)
Estate of dead B.C. Hells Angels prospect to be divided between wife, secret spouse

Michael Widner’s 2017 death left a number of unanswered questions

This Dec. 2, 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials of its Janssen subsidiary’s COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Johnson & Johnson via AP
Canada approves Johnson & Johnson’s 1-shot COVID-19 vaccine

It is the 4th vaccine approved in Canada and the 1st that requires just a single dose

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

Most Read