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.

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

Just Posted

Abbotsford dance students to perform in Disneyland

Group from Abbotsford School of Integrated Arts will do set on Feb. 14

Car giveaway set for MEI on Friday

One lucky alumni member will receive a new Mazda 3

How would crowded Fraser Valley hospitals deal with patient surge? Officials won’t say

Amid coronavirus case and crowding issues, health officials won’t say where more patients would go

Sasquatch Mountain Aussie Day celebration raises $800

Proceeds of bikini runs, toonie tosses and more go to wildfire victims

Abbotsford Police issue 81 speeding tickets in school zones over 2 days

‘30 in 30’ traffic-enforcement blitz took place last Thursday and Friday

VIDEO: Chilliwack arson victim lights up rural property like a runway

Chris Thompson had enough after twice having barns torched in suspicious circumstances

Party bus door fault for years ahead of Langley woman’s death: Coroner

Tuesday report classifed Chelsea James’ death accidental, but was critical of bus inspection process

Sap thief taps Saanich park maple trees, faces hefty fine

One tree found with four taps in Mount Doug Park

B.C. reports first coronavirus in Vancouver region

First patient visited Wuhan, China, reported symptoms

Uber threatens legal action to ‘defend its right’ to operate in Surrey

‘I have no concerns,’ Mayor Doug McCallum replies

Victoria resident says WestJet employee uttered racist comment, refused to let her on plane

Customer claims she was told ‘You guys can’t handle your alcohol’ by WestJet employee

Bystander who tried to help dog being attacked not liable for its death: B.C. tribunal

Owner of dog killed tried to get $5,000 in damages from man who tried to save it

INFOGRAPHIC: See how fast your B.C. city grew in 2019

The province’s fastest-growing municipalities were located on Vancouver Island

Landowner hearings begin for Trans Mountain expansion in Alberta

Detailed route talks start in Spruce Grove, in B.C. communities soon

Most Read