By Mallorie Rast, Kindersley Social, August 2, 2017
With an online petition of nearly 500 signatures, Kindersley residents back a local family forced to leave Canada. Wilmer Gonzalez, his wife Vanessa, and their two children have less than one month to leave Canada after his work visa expired.
Gonzalez moved his family to Saskatchewan over three years ago in hopes of pursuing greater life opportunities. Now that they are no longer welcomed in Canada, the family will be forced to return to the collapsing country of Venezuela.
“Venezuela is not a good place to be right now,” says Gonzalez. “I am scared for my wife and children.”
Gonzalez says that what we hear on the news will soon become a reality for his family. In the last several months, Venezuela has been deteriorating as crime, hunger, and violence skyrocket while employment opportunities and supplies run short. Protesters often fill the streets, as government supporters clash with those who demand government changes.
Knowing how desperate the situation was back in Venezuela, Gonzalez was very careful to follow all the steps needed to extend his work permit with Canadian Immigration, submitting his paperwork back in March. “After we sent away the paperwork, we started checking the mailbox, every day we checked it. Nothing came and nothing came until it was too late.” Gonzalez didn’t get a response until July — after his permit had already expired.
The paperwork was not only late but flatly denied Gonzalez the right to stay in his chosen hometown. This denial came as a shock to Gonzalez and his family as last year Saskatchewan had already approved him to work in the province under the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program.
For the past three years, Gonzalez has worked diligently for the Heartland Health region at the Kindersley hospital. According to his employers, he has been a model employee and cheerful co-worker. “I also work two other jobs to support my family here and my mother back home,” Gonzalez says that the costs of reapplying for visitor visas for his wife and children have added up over the years, and Vanessa is still unable to work on her visitor permit.
“But my family is happy here, we love our community, we love helping out at every event we can. The more we help, the more people get to know us, and we have become like a great big family.” Gonzalez says that the support of the community has been a comfort to his family, and while he is from Venezuela, he considers Kindersley his home.
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