Celebration held for graduates of First Nations pilot training program

September 26, 2022

As posted in the Winnipeg Free Press
September 26, 2022

About 150 people were on hand at the Calm Air hangar at the Thompson airport on Monday to celebrate the 11 graduates of the first intake of the Atik Mason Indigenous Pilot Pathway, fully funded by Exchange Income Corp.

All eleven of the students - all from First Nation communities throughout the North - have completed their first solo flight, 10 of them have completed their first flight test and some have completed the Transport Canada written exam portion of the licensure.

The rest are expected to write the exam in the next couple of weeks.

"I've got my pilots licence? Holy smokes. It's pretty exciting," said Nathan Beardy, one of the graduates. "We could not have done it without the support of entire team here. The level of support they have brought to our team, my classmates, was amazing. They were all dedicated to us succeeding."

The program was an initiative of Winnipeg-based EIC - which owns a number of regional airlines including Perimeter Aviation, Calm Air and Keewatin Air - as part of its response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's Calls to Action.

All expenses have been paid for each of the students including room and board and training from officials from Moncton Flight College, another enterprise owned by EIC.

Robin Jacuzzi, EIC's director of aviation programs, said "Everyone is extremely pleased, and yes, absolutely, the intention is to do another intake next year."

As well as another group of new students, the current graduating class will all have the chance to continue on to earn their commercial pilot licence either on Moncton this fall or next May back in Thompson. Again, all expenses will be paid.

The graduates were honoured by a host of dignitaries including some chief and councillors from three communities, Grand Chief Garrison Settee of MKO and Colleen Smook, the mayor of Thompson.

Full story on Winnipeg Free Press


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