A Spectrum of Light: Aliu’s journey from Cameroon to Nigeria to Kamloops

Aliu, a Field Service Technician originally from Cameroon, will soon join Everguard Fire and Safety in Kamloops. Photo by Will O’Hare.

It took Aliu Yulah over a month to open the link that his friend sent him, but when he finally did, his life changed forever.

Originally from North-West Cameroon, Aliu fled home due to political unrest and violence. He had been targeted for speaking out against the government and was forced to quickly flee to Nigeria after he was identified, in order to protect his family. The experience was extremely emotional and difficult, forcing him to say goodbye to his family and leave without being able to pack much more than a couple of pieces of clothing. Painfully, Aliu was also forced to abandon the small business he had built over many years of hard work, installing fire prevention equipment and alarm systems.

In Nigeria, Aliu settled into Lagos and began looking for work as a refugee. He had no friends or family in Lagos but was able to connect with fellow refugees to support one another. For three years, he found jobs with his training from Cameroon in electrical systems and fire alarm installation. But the work wasn’t reliable or challenging enough for his advanced skill-set and education, and the cost of living in Lagos was prohibitively expensive.

That’s when Aliu’s friend recommended looking at TalentLift: the link that took him over a month to open. “My friend knew I had a hard time starting over in Nigeria, but he said I should look into more options for working abroad, and I should talk with the people at TalentLift,” Aliu says.

When he first logged into the TalentLift platform, Aliu says he was surprised by how many employers in Canada were looking for people with his fire alarm systems skillset. The shortage of skilled tradespeople in Canada has attracted employers to look outside the country for their labour needs, specifically for industry-specific skills – Aliu fit the exact needs the fire prevention and safety industry was needing. Ultimately, he connected with Everguard, a pan-Canadian fire and life safety sales and service company in 2023.

Everguard’s Kamloops team was looking for a technician at just the same time Aliu was looking to start anew. Connecting in interviews, Aliu says he was drawn to the company’s culture. Googling the city helped to seal his interest. “I love taking long walks in nature after a long day’s work – something that’s hard to do in Lagos. The mountain and forest areas of Kamloops look beautiful,” he says.

After leaving behind his business in Cameroon, he’s looking forward to building his career again in Canada. “It will be a learning process for me, but I will also be contributing what I’ve learned in the past years,” he says, referencing the broad types of work he did in Nigeria while stringing together odd jobs.

Aliu is particularly grateful he decided to finally look into TalentLift that day: “They really give people hope, a spectrum of light. They set you up for success.”

TalentLift is a step in a journey opened by the Everguard team. Facing a shortage of available trained and skilled fire protection technicians in Canada, they had the vision to find a new team member in Aliu. Someone with talent, resilience, and the energy to build himself a new community – and hike around it too. 

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.