Edmonton, Alberta

Paralyzed  worker granted permanent residency

By Ted Alcuitas

She was left paralyzed and could not walk after she was hit by a car biking to work five years ago.

Vicky Venancio was working for McDonald’s when she arrived in Edmonton in 2011 as a foreign temporary worker and had high hopes of obtaining permanent status.

That dream was dashed when she was hit by a car while riding her bike to work.

Unable to work,she faced the prospect of deportation but last Wednesday, August 9, she received news that she was granted permanent residency for humanitarian and compassionate reasons.

“I wanted to jump but I cannot jump. I’m so happy,” she told CBC News after receiving the news fromm immigration officials.

• Quadriplegic temporary foreign worker may have to leave Canada

• Vicky Venancio allowed to stay in Canada two more years

According to CBC News, Venancio said she was called to Canada Place on Tuesday to meet with immigration officials, who told her that she had won her fight to stay in the country on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

“Now that I have my permanent residency, I am able to start my new life,” she said.

“I can focus now on the good things and not worry about … what’s going to happen.”

The road to recovery

For Venancio, Tuesday’s events will always have special meaning.

Despite her nervousness about going back to Canada Place — the last time she was there, she was told she would have to leave the country — she found strength in the fact that she walked there, instead of using a wheelchair.

“From the parking lot, I just used my crutches,” she said. “It’s a great feeling, not only because I got my permanent residency, but for my physical ability to know that I am able to do it.”

When Venancio got home on Tuesday night, she called her father.
“The first thing he asked is, ‘When can I see you?’ ” she said. “It’s heartbreaking.”

Venancio has been unable to see her family since she has been facing deportation.
“I lost my mom without seeing her,” she  said. “I promised her that no matter what happened, I won’t give up.”
Despite Venancio’s progress, she is still physically unable to work in a fast-paced kitchen.

Vicky Venancio, centre, pictured with friends after receiving her permanent residency on Tuesday, took great pride in the fact that she used crutches to walk into Canada Place. (Supplied by Vicky Venancio) CBC

“Right now, I am starting to gain a lot of independence,” she said. “But I’m not the same anymore.”
She requires regular treatment at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital, where she also volunteers and offers encouragement to other people grappling with spinal cord injuries.

Venancio said she’s been handing out resumés with hopes for finding a job that she can do. She’d like to earn the money she needs to go back to school and study social work.

“After my injury, I feel like I’ve become more passionate about people who have the same struggle as I have,” she said.

Venancio said she’s grateful for all the support she’s received along the way.

• Alberta health minister offers hope for injured TFW

She has been living in Canada illegally since her accident, without medical coverage to pay for treatment. She has been receiving free physiotherapy as part of a research project at the University of Alberta.

There are some 70,000 temporary foreign workers in Alberta  according to MLA Thomas Lukaszuk, adding that Venancio’s case raises concerns about how Canada deals with those who come here and then cannot work.

.• Vicky Venancio allowed to stay in Canada two more years