Northern Lights Aero Foundation and Air Canada announce the Captain Judy Cameron scholarship

The Northern Lights Aero Foundation and Air Canada announced that the application process for the second annual Captain Judy Cameron Scholarship, established in honour of the airline’s first female pilot with the goal of helping the next generation of women follow in her trailblazing footsteps, is now open. The scholarship is awarded in conjunction with the Northern Lights Aero Foundation.

The application process for the second annual Captain Judy Cameron Scholarship is now open. Air Canada Photo
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“The aviation industry has undergone drastic changes over the last few months. Encouraging the next generation of girls and young women to pursue their aviation dreams is as important as ever. Air Canada remains committed to championing equal opportunities for all qualified people. Last year, four pilots-in-training benefitted from this scholarship and we look forward to selecting the next honourees. Many capable and qualified women work at Air Canada as pilots flying the most sophisticated aircraft globally, as engineers maintaining technologically advanced airplanes and systems, and in specialized, multidisciplinary airline operations. At Air Canada, there is no glass ceiling. Women hold C-suite, executive and senior management roles across our airline,” said Arielle Meloul-Wechsler, executive vice-president, chief human resources and communications officer at Air Canada.

“The scholarship is probably the biggest honour in my entire life. Air Canada decided that they would do a $20,000 a year scholarship, to be divided amongst selected applicants who are pursuing a career either as pilots or aircraft maintenance engineers. And I think it’s just wonderful that they want to support diversity in this business. It is geared towards women who might not otherwise be able to pursue the career. I think it’s gratifying, it’s heartwarming. It makes me very proud,” captain Judy Cameron said.

Earlier this year, the first recipients of the Captain Judy Cameron Scholarship were named, four young women who are in the process of completing their flight training to become pilots: Olivia White, Rebecca Beylerian, Urooj Ali and Yasna Taieb.

The winners of the 2020 Captain Judy Cameron Scholarships, L-R, are Urooj Ali, Olivia White, Rebecca Beylerian and Yasna Taieb. Andy Cline Photo

“This scholarship has provided me with immense financial support. Just recently, I completed my night rating and I’m currently working on finishing my Commercial Pilot’s License. Both of these are being supported by the Captain Judy Cameron Scholarship. This scholarship allows me to put aside my financial worries and instead just focus on flying and my aviation career,” said Urooj Ali, who is in her second year of Geography and Aviation at the University of Waterloo, and currently flies out of Waterloo Wellington Flight Centre.

“The scholarship has helped, not only financially, but just through the support of having organizations and people and pilots that are there to support you as a woman in aviation, working towards their career. I also met some really fantastic pilots, be that captains from Air Canada, as well as other recipients of the award. We’re still in touch. It was an honour to meet them all,” said Olivia White, who is working toward her Commercial Pilot License at the University of Windsor and Journey Air Flight Centre.

You can learn more about last year’s winners in this video.

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Judy Cameron became the first female pilot hired by Air Canada, Canada’s largest airline, in April 1978 at the age of 23. She was the first woman to graduate from Selkirk College’s Aviation Technology Program in 1975. Throughout her flying career of 40 years and over 23,000 hours, she has flown the DC-3, Twin Otter, Hawker Siddeley 748, DC-9, Lockheed 1011, Airbus 320, Boeing 767 and Boeing 777 to the far corners of the world. She became a captain in 1997 and in 2010, she became the first female captain in Canada of a Boeing 777, the largest aircraft in Air Canada’s fleet. She retired in 2015, received the Elsie MacGill Northern Lights award in the Flight Operations category that year, and in 2016 she was chosen by the 99s (International Organization of Women Pilots) to be on its Canadian postage stamp.

This is the second year of Air Canada’s three-year commitment to awarding $20,000 per year for the scholarship. The Captain Judy Cameron scholarship targets young women in pursuit of non-traditional aviation careers as commercial pilots or aircraft maintenance engineers who may not have the financial means to do so.

Applications for the scholarship are open and will be accepted until Nov. 30, 2020. It will be open to all women who are Canadian citizens who have been accepted or are enrolled in a post-secondary aviation flight program or aircraft repair and maintenance program. Those selected to receive a scholarship will be notified by Jan. 18, 2021.

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