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It is no secret that there is a need to direct young girls towards aviation and aerospace careers. The Northern Lights Aero Foundation (NLAF) aims to encourage young Canadian women and girls to consider careers in this exciting industry.
The organization began back in 2009, spurred by the knowledge that too few women were recognized for their contributions and talents in the industry. The founders of NLAF believed women were an under-represented and poorly-supported demographic in the aviation sector.
Over the past 10 years, NLAF has developed and expanded its annual awards gala, the Elsie MacGill Northern Lights Awards (the “Elsie”), which highlights the winners’ developing careers and significant accomplishments in aviation and aerospace. A positive result of this showcase of talent is a path to fulfilling employers’ eager desire to find ways to increase hires from this untapped group: women.
NLAF has a mission to reach girls as early as Grade 6 to raise awareness of educational opportunities and mentoring programs across all sectors of aviation and aerospace; a mission unique from any other organization in Canada. The foundation has positioned itself to be the central resource for a variety of programs designed to mentor young women during their aviation journey. NLAF focuses on removing perceived barriers by promoting role models; educating the educators; supporting women in STEM fields; encouraging participation under-represented Indigenous and LGBTQ2 communities; and providing scholarship funds.
With the support and cross-promotion of sponsors and partners, NLAF is expanding its platform across Canada. This year, the organization will be participating in a variety of live events with information booths and speakers; communicating with school boards and educational institutions; and taking our message to governmental bodies. The NLAF website, soon to be offered in English and French, is a central resource for women or girls looking to get involved in Canadian aviation and aerospace. NLAF’s social media channels are used to spread new information and spark open discussions about the needs, challenges, and winning outcomes of this sector.
We are on board with industry leaders, aviation associations, educational institutions and other organizations that support the advancement of girls and women into bright, exciting and fulfilling careers. Their passion is our passion.
Joy Parker Blackwood is the president of the Northern Lights Aero Foundation.