Less than 3% of airline executives, 4.5% of airline pilots, and 2.8% of aircraft maintenance engineers are women. We estimate that less than ½ of a percent of aircraft maintenance engineers are women of colour. Today, March 11, 2021, Iskwew Air announced the launch of its Aircraft Maintenance Organization (AMO) led by a woman of colour. We chose this day because the first woman in Canada was licenced as an aircraft maintenance engineer on March 11, 1971.

The new wing of the company aims to position itself as a traditional maintenance provider and build a more sustainable future for the aviation industry by leading the way with Advanced Air Mobility technology (AAM). AAM uses new electric powered aircraft to move people, goods and services quicker and more sustainably.

Iskwew Air is the bridge between traditional air service and the sustainable technology of the future. “Together in this innovative space we will rematriate, reimagine, and rebuild our air transportation system — centering equity, resilience, and sustainability,” said Teara Fraser, Lead Executive, Iskwew Air. “We plan to both fly them and fix them!”

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the aviation industry is collapsing. Imagine a world where women, non-binary, and Indigenous peoples lead us in this innovative space. Imagine a world where the ancestral wisdom of Indigenous worldview is reconnecting us and guiding the new transportation narrative. Imagine a world where we activate passion, a sense of wonder, and collective belonging alongside young people.

Image courtesy of Iskwew Air

“In my experience as a licenced aircraft maintenance engineer, because there are so few of us, we stick out like sore thumbs in a hangar. We are constantly questioned about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it simply because we look out of place,” said Alisha Sohpaul, licensed M1 & M2 Aircraft Maintenance Engineer and Iskwew Air’s Person Responsible for Maintenance (PRM).

“It is exhausting having to justify yourself and your abilities to your colleagues who should be trying to support you, not scrutinize you. Iskwew Air is a place where everyone is uplifted, supported, welcomed, and celebrated for being their authentic selves.”

“With this global pandemic and its impact upon aviation, we are at a stage of the great awakening that will force the industry to provide innovative approaches” said JR Hammond, Executive Director Canadian Advanced Air Mobility (CAAM). “CAAM’s synergy with Iskwew Air will take this great awakening and build bridges between Indigenous wisdom and the sustainable aviation narrative of our future.”

“As the new technologies RPAS (drones) and Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) are shaping the future of transportation, it is imperative that the opportunity to be part of this exciting new wave of career is shared with everyone.” said Philip Reece, President and CEO InDro Robotics. “Together with Iskwew Air, we are offering the tools needed for communities to train and gain the certification to fly RPAS (drones), giving their careers wings.”

“What we’re doing today is creating a safe space for women in aviation which is long overdue, and this is just the beginning. I’m truly honoured to be paving this path with Teara and redefining the aviation industry.” Alisha Sohpaul shared.

Learn more about Advanced Air Mobility at the digital open house being hosted by CAAM on Mar 18, 2021.

About Iskwew Air

Teara is a Métis bridge builder, the first to start a 100% Indigenous woman-owned airline in Canada. Iskwew Air’s vision is to connect people with each other and to the land. The company values the warrior spirit, love and adventure, and reclamation and reciprocity. Iskwew Air (pronounced ISS-KWAY-YO) is the Cree word for woman. This word was chosen as the name for the airline as an intentional act of the reclamation of womanhood, matriarchal leadership, and language; Iskwew Air celebrates all women and those who are lifting women. Iskwew Air is the bridge between traditional air transportation and the sustainable transportation of the future.