A pilot project in reconciliation

April 27, 2022

Indigenous youth in Manitoba, who once might have thought they'd like to become a commercial airplane pilot but never imagined they'd have the chance, are now going to be able to pursue that dream.

Exchange Income Corp. (EIC), the Winnipeg-based company that owns Perimeter Aviation, Calm Air, Keewatin Air and other regional airlines, is launching an Indigenous pilot training program this spring in Thompson that will cover all the costs for participants, including room and board, an elder/mentor who will live with the students as well as free flights home on the weekend if needed.

The plan is to run an initial intake of 10-to-12 students starting this spring. EIC is in the process of bringing in training aircraft, flight instructors and maintenance staff into Thompson from Moncton Flight College in New Brunswick, an enterprise that EIC owns.

The program, to be called the Atik Mason Indigenous Pilot Pathway, is named after Timothy Atik "Tik" Mason from St. Theresa Point First Nation, who last year became Perimeter's first Indigenous pilot from a northern First Nation that EIC's airlines services.

Mason's successful journey inspired many in EIC which has a good track record of employing Indigenous people but not in the high profile pilot positions.

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