1st Indigenous woman to start Canadian airline looks to B.C.’s remote regions

Teara Fraser is the first Indigenous woman in Canada to start her own airline, called Iskwew Air

Teara Fraser is used to being a rarity in Canada’s aviation industry.

Having flown for 15 years, Fraser is one of just six per cent of female pilots who exist in Canada. Becoming owner of Kisik Aerial Survey garnered her entry into another rather exclusive club: being a women CEO at an aviation-related company.

But this year, Fraser, who’s Metis, reached a new milestone as the first-ever Indigenous woman in Canada to start an airline from scratch.

“I’m so excited and proud of our vision, connecting people with each other and to the land,” she told Black Press Media outside of the South Terminal at YVR International Airport.

Iskwew Air (pronounced ISS-KWAYY-YO) is expected to take flight on March 8, or International Women’s Day. It’s one of the many facets that intertwine the power of womanhood into Fraser’s company.

“Iskwew is the Cree word for women,” she explained. “We celebrate all women and those who are lifting women.”

It will launch with one aircraft, an eight-seat Piper Navajo. Fraser said the plan is to start small, taking passengers to smaller communities outside of the Lower Mainland, that don’t have access to frequent airline services.

“This is an aircraft that can operate on smaller strips, even unimproved strips, and be able to access some of those small communities.”

Inspiration to earn a pilots license started in Africa

Fraser said it was a trip on a small plane over the plains of Botswana, Africa in 2002 that ignited the light inside her to pursue flight.

“It was the first time I had really travelled anywhere,” Fraser said. She was intrigued by how the land looked from the perspective of the sky

“I was so inspired, and after that trip I thought ‘oh, I wanna become a pilot.’”

A year later, Fraser achieved her commercial pilot’s license. In the years that followed she flew for Terrace-based Hawkair and started Kisik Aerial Survey, which she recently sold.

Fraser has many connections to Western Canada. She grew up in the fly-in-fly-out community of Fort Chipewyan, Alta., before living in northern B.C. and finally raising her children in the Lower Mainland.

Along the way, Fraser has held onto a special interest in promoting Indigenous youth and women – a passion she now folds into her everyday work.

“For a little girl that was maybe inspired to get her own wings, I would say follow your dreams, don’t let anything get in your way and if you dream it, design it and do it, you can make the impossible possible,” she said. “So just get busy.”


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Crowds pack downtown core for Blitzville

Crowds flocked to the downtown Cranbrook core to take in the inaugural… Continue reading

Blades cut through Kootenay Ice 8-3

The Ice couldn’t come back against the Saskatoon Blades after an early three-goal deficit

Gord McArthur back in action from retirement

After eight years McArthur slew his kryptonite at the World Cup Ice Climbing tour in Switzerland

RDEK takes steps towards reducing carcass pit use

The first step towards addressing the issue of carcass pits in the… Continue reading

Celtic tradition is Heather Rankin’s musical starting point

Cape Breton singer’s Key City Theatre stop her first show of 2019, first solo show in B.C.

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

B.C. athlete takes home gold in freestyle aerials at Canada Games

Brayden Kuroda won the event with a combined score of 121.65.

Cabinet likely to extend deadline to reconsider Trans Mountain pipeline

New round of consultations with Indigenous communities is coming

B.C. government provides $75,000 towards salmon study

Study looks at abundance and health of Pacific salmon in Gulf of Alaska

Murdered and missing honoured at Stolen Sisters Memorial March in B.C.

‘We come together to make change within the systems in our society’

UBC researchers develop inexpensive tool to test drinking water

The tricoder can test for biological contamination in real-time

Woensdregt: ‘Imprinting the Day’

Rev. Yme Woensdregt Many of us, even faithful believers, feel like we… Continue reading

Disgraced ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner released from prison

He was convicted of having illicit online contact with a 15-year-old North Carolina girl in 2017

Most Read