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After training Indigenous pilots since 1990, the First Nations Technical Institute (FNTI) will be hosting its first annual Indigenous Youth Aviation Camp next week.
From July 21-28, 12 Indigenous youth from across Canada will converge at FNTI’s Tyendinaga Aerodrome in Deseronto, Ont., to attend ground school, Cessna 172 training flights, simulator sessions, cultural events and more. Youth will also have access to an on-site Elder, receive a swag bag and camp apparel and stay in residence.
“We are excited to be providing this new opportunity to our youth,” said Jo-Anne Tabobandung, dean of Aviation. “Indigenous-owned airlines and industry partners are always looking for meaningful ways to encourage a career in piloting to the younger generation, which is considered to be key to the sustainability of many of our communities. We are thrilled to receive so much support from them to carry it out.”
Tabobandung goes on to say how impressive it is that 10 out of the 12 youth are female recruits. FNTI’s First Peoples’ aviation technology-flight three-year advanced diploma program trains a high percentage of female learners, historically more than 35 per cent — for careers in what is widely considered a male-dominant field.
According to the International Society of Women Airline Pilots, just over five per cent of airline pilots are female and industry moguls such as Boeing are predicting a massive global pilot shortage with as many as 617,000 new commercial airline pilots needed by 2035.
“These statistics are staggering. Indigenous peoples and females are critical to building capacity, averting skills shortages and creating sustainability to the aviation sector,” said Tabobandung. “Moreover, pilot shortages are exacerbated in rural and remote communities. FNTI is a driver to overcome this challenge seeing as our graduates usually wish to return to their home communities.”
Student counsellors, Tabobandung and other FNTI employees will be meeting the youth at Pearson Airport in Toronto on July 21 to start off the week. Air travel has been made possible through the generous provisions made by Air Creebec, Missinipppi Airways, Air Borealis, PAL Airlines, West Jet, Air Canada, Jazz Aviation and the Air Transportation Association of Canada (ATAC).