“People are kind here”: Lucie’s journey to Toronto with Round13

Lucie, a Social Media Coordinator and Office Administrator originally from Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, works at Round13 in Toronto. Photo by Will O’Hare.

When Lucie arrived at Toronto’s Pearson Airport on a cold day in February 2024, she felt as though a weight had been lifted off of her. Passing through customs, immigration and baggage, she says she felt close to crying: the process was so straightforward, and the fact that she was treated with respect by the immigration authorities was so unfamiliar to her.

After living most of her life in South Africa as a refugee from Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lucie had become used to facing constant hurdles and challenges to secure papers, employment and even a bank account and credit card. “In South Africa, jobs are pretty much only available for citizens, and my refugee papers were an obstacle – employers there are not comfortable hiring or promoting someone from another country.”

Her journey to Canada serves as stark contrast from her experience there. After losing her customer service job in South Africa during the pandemic, and struggling to find full-time, adequately compensated work, she finally began to explore the idea of moving to a country where she would be embraced.

For years, she says, she’d dreamt of Toronto, hearing about the vibrancy of the city and the openness of Canada. Looking through the Government of Canada’s website, she saw the link to TalentLift and decided to build out a profile for herself, without knowing whether or not it would lead to any opportunities.

But Lucie’s experience in digital marketing and customer service, in addition to her fluency in French and English, immediately intrigued a hiring manager at Round13 Capital. The investment firm, which is headquartered in Toronto and focuses on growing the Canadian technology ecosystem, had identified TalentLift as a partner to build out their team and meet their human resources needs.

After liaising with TalentLift, Round13 was able to offer Lucie a role as a Social Media Coordinator and Office Administrator in the fall of 2023. Despite her excitement, after nearly a lifetime of dealing with the obstacles of being a refugee in South Africa, she wasn’t able to breathe easy until arriving in Toronto. “I just feel like Canada knows how to deal with refugees, and everyone was so friendly, even on the subway when I had questions.”

Since February, Lucie says Toronto has been exactly what she was searching for. She says her colleagues at Round13 have been incredibly supportive of her journey, and are encouraging her to expand her knowledge of finance and venture capital so she can take on more responsibilities for the firm. Outside of her work, she’s found community through church and by enrolling in a gym, and is looking forward to discovering Toronto’s summer festivals.

One of her coworkers at Round13 even helped her find housing, with roommates she says have become fast friends. “I could not have found better people for my new life, from friends to colleagues to housemates,” she says. “Right from my first day in Canada I learned people here are kind and want to help.”

Candidates living in refugee circumstances and seeking a job in Canada can join TalentLift. Employers seeking global talent while engaging their team in something transformative can start hiring.