Leader of the Future: Wivine Mathias Rukera

By: Danielle Leroux

Room Attendant, Long Beach Lodge Resort

Wivine Mathias Rukera is a charismatic and hard-working Room Attendant at Long Beach Lodge Resort in Tofino.

Rukera moved to Canada in August 2021 and began working at the resort several months later, after completing a two-month hospitality management education program at Camosun College.

Rukera was working as a server in Kenya, when she found out about the Hospitality Industry welcomes Refugee Employment-linked Sponsorship (HIRES) project through her sister and a friend.

World University Service of Canada (WUSC) and Camosun College welcomed refugee youth from Kenya to British Columbia through the project, a unique employment-linked sponsorship pathway in collaboration with Tofino’s hospitality sector.

The new initiative, funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, builds on WUSC’s long-standing Student Refugee Program model and looks to further expand access to economic opportunities for refugee youth and enhance their economic integration into the Canadian labour market.

Out of 800 people, Rukera was one of nine selected to the project in 2021. “HIRES is a good program,” adds Rukera. “It helps so many people to do what they want to do in life and adjust in their future.”

Long Beach Lodge Resort was one of our four champion employers in Tofino that welcomed the first nine HIRES participants.

“I love people and being around people.”

When asked how she got into hospitality, Rukera says: “I love people and being around people. You meet a lot of different people from different parts of the world. You get to know their needs and provide what they need.” She also loves the element of teamwork, helping each other, and exchanging ideas and conversation. In her current role, Rukera makes beds and cleans rooms.

Before moving, Rukera interviewed with several companies, but ultimately landed on Long Beach Lodge Resort. “I felt like it was the one for me,” she says. “I did research online and it is a beautiful place.” Outside of work, Rukera’s also soaked in some of the nature Tofino has to offer. “I tried surfing once! And I’ve also done some hiking.”

But the transition hasn’t been without its challenges. “I had never done housekeeping before,” says Rukera. “At first, I thought they were giving me too much information and it was very challenging. But with time, I got used to everything.” Rukera also experienced culture shock moving to a new country and place but has a positive attitude when it comes to the change and seems incredibly adaptable: “It’s life. We have to explore and live in new areas,” she says.

“Rukera has proven in a short time that she is a hard worker and a skilled leader.”

Rukera is currently training to be a supervisor and is modest about her success. But the resort’s General Manager Samantha Hackett shares, “Wivine has proven in a short time that she is a hard worker and a skilled leader. Her efficient work and ability to connect with team members has started her on a great path in the industry and we have been coaching her to become a housekeeping supervisor at Long Beach Lodge Resort.”

In the future, she wants to expand her education and learn more about hospitality and tourism or explore social work. “I am a person who really likes helping people,” she says. “I want to do other courses related to that.” Wherever her career path may take her, it’s clear Rukera wants to be around and helping people.