Edmonton

Injured foreign worker who fought deportation order wins permanent residency

A temporary foreign worker who was left quadriplegic after a traffic accident in Edmonton five years ago has been granted permanent residency in Canada.

Vicky Venancio was riding her bike to work in Edmonton in 2012, when a car accident left her quadriplegic

Vicky Venancio celebrates on Tuesday after receiving her permanent residency. (Supplied by Vicky Venancio)

A temporary foreign worker who was left quadriplegic after a traffic accident in Edmonton five years ago has been granted permanent residency in Canada.

"This was the last resort I had. I'm so glad that they finally considered everything," said Vicky Venancio, 31, on Wednesday. 

"I wanted to jump but I cannot jump. I'm so happy." 

​Venancio moved to Edmonton as a temporary foreign worker from the Philippines in 2011 with a job at McDonald's. She was riding her bike to the franchise in Mill Woods when she was hit by a car in 2012. 

With severed nerves in her spinal cord as a result of the collision, she was told it was unlikely she would ever walk again.

Venancio was unable to work and unable to renew her visa. 

In the face of a deportation order to the Philippines, where she had next to no hope of receiving the medical care she then required, Venancio began the fight to stay in Canada.

In 2015, with her plight in the public eye, she was issued a two-year work permit. 

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." 

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)

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.

"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. 

'We don't believe in indentured labour'

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

One of the people who advocated on Venancio's behalf was Thomas Lukaszuk, the then-deputy premier of Alberta.

Lukaszuk, an immigrant himself, was one of the first people she said she contacted with the good news that she'd been granted permanent residency. 

To him, the victory embodies what Canada should stand for.

"We don't believe in indentured labour," he said. "We don't throw people out.

"That's simply not who we are as Canadians." 

Lukaszuk wrote letters to then-federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney pleading Venancio's case.

He said it gives him peace of mind knowing that Venancio can stay.

"She will be an asset to Canada," he said.

roberta.bell@cbc.ca

@roberta__bell

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