A Filipino man who was shot in the face in 2013 while working at a gas station says he needs to stay in Canada to receive ongoing medical treatment for his injuries.
Jaysen Arancon Reyes came to Canada from the Phillipines on a two-year temporary foreign worker permit in 2013.
Less than four months after Reyes arrived in the country, he was shot during an armed robbery while working as a Fas Gas clerk in Red Deer.
A man walked up to the gas station counter late at night on Sept. 11, 2013 with a sawed-off shotgun. According to an RCMP report, Reyes placed money on the counter but the man shot him anyway, spraying his face and hands with metal.
Paramedics took Reyes to hospital in serious condition.
"When I was in hospital, I don't want to live anymore," Reyes said. "I just want to die, I just wanted to stop my life.
"Then I see my face in the mirror, covered with the bandage, with my hands full of bandage and I don't have family here. I just wished I were dead."
The shooter, Jeffrey Lyle Geary, turned himself in to RCMP two days after the robbery and is now serving a six-year sentence on five weapons-related offences, including attempted murder.
Reyes left hospital after several surgeries, but was unable to return to work due to his injuries.
He lost his permit to work and instead stayed in Canada on a visitor's visa. That visa expires in August.
Reyes says he can't get the medical help he needs if he has to return to the Philippines. He also won't be able to find a good job due to his injures, he says.
The vision in one of Reyes' eyes is blurry and metal pellets remain embedded in his face, while scars cover his body.
Reyes also lost his left ring finger and his right thumb. He says he can't lift anything heavy because it would damage the work surgeons have done on his hands.
Parkland Fuel Corp., the parent company of the Fas Gas, hired an immigration lawyer in June 2015 to help Reyes apply for permanent residency on humanitarian grounds.
"We're desperately trying to get him to stay here," said Peter Kilty, the vice president of retail. "The sad part is, if this incident hadn't happened (permanent residency) would likely already have taken place."
Kilty says the company hasn't heard back from immigration yet, but he already has a job in mind for Reyes if he's granted permanent residency.
"He's a great example of someone who would make a great citizen, a great Canadian and contribute to our country. There are certainly wins for him, but there are wins for us, too."
Before coming to Canada, Reyes says he made the equivalent of $5 a day in the Philippines. At the Fas Gas in Red Deer, he made more than twice that in an hour.
Reyes says he sent most of it home, and that he dreamed of one day brining his mother to Canada.
"That was my plan. Then the accident happened and it changed it all," he said, adding that permanent residency would revive that dream.
"I stand up again to continue my life and day by day," he said. "I always have a positive thinking that someday I'm going to work again and make money again.
"The thing is we are running out of time. August is coming."