There are more than 27 million people living in refugee situations worldwide, and one third are living in countries in Africa.
We got a chance to hear from a few people in the East Africa region about their experience getting a job offer in Canada. Our team was in Nairobi at a meeting organized by the regional UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) team to raise awareness and share good practice on supporting talented folks to access job opportunities in Canada and beyond as a solution to their displacement.
Bahati is a nurse who was living in Kenya as a refugee before our partners at RefugePoint and the Shapiro Foundation supported her to connect with the Glen Haven Manor team in Pictou County, Nova Scotia, where she’s living and working today. She was back in Nairobi too reflecting on her experience. Bahati recalled that for so long, “you’re living day to day, you don’t know what the future is going to be.” She also felt the weight of her identify as a refugee – which changed when she got to Canada. “The minute you step off the plane, you’re not a refugee anymore.”
“I expected to be identified as a refugee. It becomes who you are.” Instead, she found a team who saw her as a colleague first.
The Bahati I got to know is a nursing professional, a mom, a partner, a leading voice advocating for open skilled visas for displaced talent, warm, funny, and an eager friend to anyone.
Tekle also shared his experience getting a job offer in Canada. He too is a nurse and got a job offer with Chancellor Park in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, another part of the country facing a critical shortage of healthcare staff. TalentLift met Tekle through our partners at UNHCR in the East Africa region and connected him to the Chancellor Park team. His visa process is underway.
It’s remarkable to hear as part of someone’s personal story the urgent question about everyone else. Tekle said he’s the only one he knows so far who got an opportunity to meet a Canadian hiring team, but “there are thousands of others with skills.” Not only nurses, but countless professionals.
Bahati spoke directly to scaling our work too. To governments, she urged: “Barriers that can be removed, should be removed.” People who are in refugee situations are an equity-deserving group, and we can level the field for them in Canadian skilled immigration by overcoming disadvantages they face that have nothing to do with skills or potential.
“They have been through so much, and they shouldn’t be taken through other things that are unnecessary,” she said. “If there’s any policy we see we can influence to make it easier for them and their families, we should.”
The Canadian Government is listening. It recently announced forthcoming changes to the Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot (EMPP) aimed at greater access. But better is always possible – and TalentLift will keep advocating for ways to deepen equity and scale opportunities.
We’re also deeping our partnerships in East Africa as we work to ensure people living in all geographies can be visible to Canadian hiring teams. We’re working with partners in Ethiopia and Rwanda now and we invite candidates anywhere to register on our talent platform.
We need hiring teams right beside us. We need the leadership of Canadian companies to welcome many more talented job-seekers like Bahati and Tekle – to join your team and leave displacement behind.
As Doug Stephens, General Manager Operations, of the MacLeod Group said, “take a leap.” Andrew Walsh, the former CEO of Iress, knows that the ripple effects throughout the business will be “immeasurable.”
Join a community of pioneering hiring teams across Canada. Start hiring with TalentLift.