WINCHESTER – Archel Imperial wants her parents to experience a Canadian Christmas, if only once in their lifetime.

The deli manager at Winchester Foodland, Imperial drew national attention last year when she was one of many featured in a Sobeys created video telling the story of her immigration to Dundas County.

It was a partnership with the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 that helped the company celebrate those who have helped build the grocery business in this country.

Imperial’s story began in the countryside of the Philippines province of Aklan in Milano, where she was one of eight children in her family.

She started working on a farm planting rice manually when she was just 10 years old, earning about $1.25 Canadian per day to buy clothes and school supplies. During harvest time, Imperial would sometimes have to walk 15 kilometres to the fields.

Winchester Foodland owner Dan Pettigrew and deli manager Archel Imperial. Pettigrew and his staff are fundraising to bring Imperial’s parents to Canada from the Philippines in time for Christmas. Press Photo – Uhrig

After high school, she dreamed of becoming an engineer, but living in poverty didn’t afford that reality. Instead, she took a Bachelor of Science in Home Technology, a course provided at a public university.

In 2005, Imperial gave birth to a son, which at the time, was a disappointment to her parents. In order to give her boy a good future, she ultimately chose to work out of country, first as a nanny in Hong Kong and in 2009, in Canada. After that contract ended, she began a position in the bakery at the former downtown Foodland store.

It was 2015 before she was reunited with her son, all the while sending money back home to ensure he was getting the best of what he needed, and leaving a little extra cash to help out other family members.

Now there is a fundraising effort afoot to bring Imperial’s mom and dad to Canada, a place they’ve never been.

“Archel can’t get home every year to see her family, so we want to get them here,” storeowner Dan Pettigrew said. “Based on what she’s done and has experienced, this felt like something we as a team could get behind.”

Between $4,000 and $6,000 is required to bring Imperial’s parents here for three weeks, the total helping to cover the cost of the round-trip airfare.

To meet the total, of which nearly $1,000 has been generated to date, a barbecue will take place at the village store Sat., July 14 from 10:30 am to 2:30 pm. Hamburgers, hotdogs and drinks will be available by donation. As well, a number of auction items will up for grabs, including a trip to Jamaica (100 tickets available) and more.

Members of the North Dundas Fire Services’ Winchester detachment will work the grill, players with the Winchester Junior Hawks will be on hand to help with grocery carry-outs, and

Winchester Travel owner Owen Shortt has offered to help with the plane tickets purchase once the needed funds have been generated.

“I want to meet her parents, want to know what it was like to watch their daughter go away and give their commitment to her son,” Pettigrew said. “This community has been phenomenal for support, and I’m hoping this is something they’ll want to support, too.”