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Canada Celebrates 60th Anniversary of Canadian Citizenship

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This month Canada is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Canadian Citizenship Act. The act, which was passed in 1946 but took effect in 1947, created a legally distinct Canadian citizenship.

While Canada achieved independence from Britain in 1867 with the passing of the British North America act, Canadian sovereignty was achieved in stages, and Canadians remained British subjects. After the second World War however pressure increased to recognize Canadian citizenship. The result was the Canadian Citizenship Act—closely modeled on the equivalent British legislation—which conferred Canadian citizenship on January 1st 1947 on most British subjects associated with Canada at the time.

Canada is marking the anniversary with a special citizenship ceremony in Ottawa. The ceremony will be presided over by the Right Honourable Beverly McLaughlin, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. At the ceremony, eighteen families with representation from each province and territory in Canada will take the oath of citizenship. Also attending the ceremony are the Right Honourable Michaelle Jean Governor-General of Canada as well as the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.

The Citizenship Act has undergone one major revision, in 1977, since it the initial legislation took effect. The most significant change made at this time was the recognition of multiple citizenships. There are three main ways to acquire Canadian citizenship: by birth, by descent and by naturalization. As for the first, any individual born in Canada (with the exception of the children of diplomats) are conferred Canadian citizenship at birth. Children of Canadian citizens born outside of Canada also acquire Canadian citizenship. The naturalization route is the path to Canadian citizenship available to immigrants, applying after 3 years as a permanent resident living in Canada.