Nicolas’s Story

Nicolas is a pseudonym. His name was changed for this story to protect his privacy.

Nicolas overcame major challenges to be where he is today. This is his story!  

We’ve carried out minor editing for conciseness and clarity*

“I fled to save my life. Coming to Canada opened my mind to possibilities. I thought those possibilities couldn’t be a reality for me at all. As soon as I came here, the freedom to speak out […] even hearing my own story, felt incredible. When I first came to Canada, my aunt booked a hotel, but it got unsustainably expensive, so I had to move to a shelter. I tried to stay at a homeless shelter, but the shelter I went to was so awful, I couldn’t even stay the night. I contacted Mathew House, and they had no room for me at the time. So, my aunt helped me rent an Air Bn’Bto give me space and time. Now, I had a shelter but not a whole lot of money to eat. So, I had to skip meals. After the first week, Mathew House called me back with a spot.  

After housing was settled, the next big challenge I faced in Canada [in terms of career and life] was creating or following a life path with all these uncertainties. As of right now, I’m still not a protected person. Having to plan your life with this uncertainty is hard. You don’t know what could happen tomorrow. You cannot plan that far ahead. For example, I had the opportunity to start a master’s program to continue my education, but I had to refuse for two reasons. The first, I do have to work to support myself. The second was that I did not know if I would be here or not after two years. That kind of decision can’t be made with that level of uncertainty, right? 

To help me overcome roadblocks and stay motivated, I found organizations like Jumpstart Refugee Talent, Mathew House & Youth Employment Services who then supported me. I was interested in software development and jumped at an opportunity to take the Hack Your Future course. It [the program] wasn’t running at the time, but Jumpstart didn’t reject me, instead, I received lots of encouragement. I was asked about my interests. Knowing that someone out there is thinking about me and trying to help me was helpful. Once I realized things were possible for me, I made it my life’s dream to get to that point, I wasn’t just surviving anymore. I started taking on challenges and I was persistent. I had over 100 interviews in a 6-month period (laughs). I was applying to lots of jobs but had no luck at all. Somewhere along the way, Jumpstart contacted me to inform me about a Data Analyst position at CIBC. I was interested so I applied. Soon after, I got a [CIBC] call to interview for the role and that was that!  

By coming to Canada, I was simply extending my survival rate…my life expectancy. I didn’t think I would get this fancy job. This was a dream for me. My whole experience in Canada has been awesome. People are ready to help, especially with ideas and advice. I’m grateful that even though the pandemic hit everyone hard, they did not think only of themselves.” 

For more information about Jumpstart’s Refugee Talent Hub, visit