NEWS

Donovan McGlaughlin, Yukon man with no birth certificate, fights for citizenship

12/19/2014 10:04 EST | Updated 02/18/2015 05:59 EST
A 60-year-old Dawson City, Yukon, man whose birth was never registered says he has spent years trying to get recognized by the Canadian government.

Donovan McGlaughlin, 60, says he was born in Ontario. His father was First Nations from the U.S. and his mother was a Canadian.

"Both my parents distrusted all government," he says. "For a lack of a better term, they were anarchists and they chose not to register my birth. I'm technically what's called stateless."

He says he was homeschooled and left home at 15. It wasn't until his 20s that he tried to get an official ID, but without a birth certificate, he had no luck.

"I've lived a simple life all my life," he says. "I moved a lot, wandering until I came to the Yukon. I fell in love with this place."

He has been in the Yukon for decades but still has no birth certificate, passport or social insurance number.

"I've never voted," he says. "I have no health-care coverage."

Others without proper documentation

Now his health is failing. He has had heart attacks and has no territorial health care coverage for drugs or Medevac bills.

"If it were just me, I'd be happy to go to my grave just the way I am, but this is my children we're talking about."

He says for the sake of his children, he wants to be recognized officially as a Canadian and as a Yukoner, using the "cases of special and unusual hardship" clause of the Citizenship Act.

Yukon Conservative MP Ryan Leef says McGlaughlin isn't the first case of a resident with no official papers. When asked how someone could live without any official ID, Leef says "if there's a place you could do it, the Yukon would be it."

He says updating systems like the secure driver's licence brought to light the lack of proper documentation for a few people.​

"We've had similar files to this in the past and we've been able to work through them," Leef says.

"There is a process. It doesn't always go as quickly as some people would like. Although it's complicated, we've been able to work through the other two that we've had, virtually identical to this scenario."

Lost Canadians group blames Ottawa

Leef says McGlaughlin has to be willing to fully engage in that process.

But a man who has been advocating for McGlaughlin says the government is dragging its feet.

Don Chapman, who heads a group called Lost Canadians, says he has been trying to get help for McGlaughlin for more than a year.

"I met personally with the top bureaucrats in Ottawa last May and said, 'Process this man,'" he says. "They've had it on their table; they just haven't done it."

Chapman says the government has the ability to move more quickly, but isn't.​

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