Sonya Sangster is the recipient of this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award from University of the Fraser Valley. (UFV photo)

Pilot Sonya Sangster receives UFV Distinguished Alumni Award

Former grad flies planes and works in international development

A professional pilot from South Delta is the recipient of this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award from University of the Fraser Valley.

Sonya Sangster came to UFV because she wanted to fly. And she did, in more ways than one.

Sangster’s UFV education gave her the wings she needed to fly airplanes and to be a leader in helping women in the international development field.

She earned a bachelor of business administration in aviation from UFV in 2006 and went on to continue her economics studies at the graduate level and become CEO of the Tekera Foundation.

Sangster says that combining business and aviation studies opened many doors for her.

“If I hadn’t taken the BBA aviation program at UFV, I wouldn’t have flown planes and wouldn’t have seen what I saw in other countries, which is what inspired me to pursue humanitarian work.”

During her flying career, she chose to work for part of that time for a company that flies on missions for the United Nations and NATO.

This led to some interesting adventures.

“I’ve flown into the jungles of the Central African Republic to pick up warlords for peace talks, and I’ve done missions into some pretty intense conflict zones.”

RELATED: UFV launches school of creative arts

RELATED: Local enrolment down, but more international students at UFV

She even called her parents to say goodbye to them once from the Congo because she didn’t think she was going to make it out during a rebel attack.

While flying for a living, Sangster volunteered at Oxfam Canada running their volunteer engagement program, which encompassed global themes such as women and food security, accessible public services, fair trade, climate change, and gender justice.

She also became a training captain, and trained other pilots on the complicated nature of conflict and humanitarian line flying.

By age 30 she had “capped out” her aviation goals and was looking to do more hands-on work in the humanitarian field.

Her master’s degree from the London School of Economics and her volunteer experience helped her transition into a new career championing innovative solutions to international development through her work with the Tekera Foundation.

Tekera uses a feminist decolonial development model to create new approaches to international development globally.

Its unique model, which Sangster helped design, has been praised by the international community and Canadian government alike.

Tekera works with one community at a time to build social services and then launches small-to-medium businesses whose revenue goes back into funding these services.

Sangster was selected as one of eight leaders to work with Global Affairs Canada to help develop and implement its Feminist International Assistance Policy – particularly their engagement strategy with civil society organizations.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Youth Unlimited in Abbotsford recently celebrated the grand opening of their renovated office space on Emerson Street. (Submitted photo)
Youth Unlimited in Abbotsford among 4 charities supported by fundraiser

Joseph Richard Group holds month-long One Month In campaign

NEWS FILE PHOTO
Voters in Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Mission and Langley may head back to polls in 2021

Election of local politicians in BC vote would trigger by-elections in several Fraser Valley cities

BC Liberal candidates Michael de Jong (left) and Bruce Banman are projected to win in Abbotsford West and Abbotsford South, respectively. Tyler Olsen/Abbotsford News
Abbotsford BC Liberals de Jong and Banman heading to Victoria, say Highway 1 widening will be focus

In Abbotsford-Mission, BC Liberal Simon Gibson in close race against NDP’s Pam Alexis

Oct. 24 is election day
COLUMN: An election day like none other

Toques went on. So did masks. And democracy rolled on.

Giana Randhawa of Abbotsford has written and published a children’s book titled My Favourite Colour is Pink. (Submitted photo)
Abbotsford woman writes children’s book about acceptance

Giana Randhawa says there’s too much pressure to fit into gender roles

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Provincial Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau speaks at Provincial Green Party headquarters at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe in Victoria. (Arnold Lim / Black Press)
VIDEO: Furstenau leads BC Greens to win first riding outside of Vancouver Island

Sonia Furstenau became leader of BC Greens one week before snap election was called

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

Record number of mail-in ballots may shift results

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Mounties looking for teen boy ‘unlawfully at large’ from Riverview psychiatric hospital

Nolan Godron left the hospital, located at 2721 Lougheed Highway in Coquitlam, without consent on Saturday

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

Most Read