Claudia Albany is looking to land a career as a pilot one day.
The 14-year-old from Kasabonika Lake First Nation was one of 24 students from remote northern First Nations attending an aviation camp at Confederation College’s Aviation Centre of Excellence this week.
The eighth annual Pimesaywii Apitamahkatwin First Nation First Nation Youth Aviation Camp is designed for youth ages 13 to 16 to learn about all the aspects of aviation; it also promotes careers in aviation to address the shortage of Aboriginal pilots and aircraft maintenance engineers.
One of the highlights for Albany was a sightseeing flight over the city, and learning how to operate an aircraft.
“We got to fly remote control planes too…which was awesome,” she said.
The flight was also a favourite moment for Rain Defreitas, 13, from Bearskin Lake First Nation.
“We just went around flying over Thunder Bay,” he said, adding he’s also looking at becoming a pilot.
“I’ve been enjoying (the camp) because it’s fun, making friends and meeting new people,” said Defreitas.
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School of aviation chair Paul de Oude said the course covers not only the flight aspect of the field, but also maintenance and manufacturing.
“Aviation is a lot bigger than one thing,” he said, adding they try to emphasize to the students that in aviation, you’re never alone.
“Flight works with maintenance works with manufacturing works with dispatch. There are so many angles and since we have that combined in our building, this is the perfect place,” he said.
For the college, the program is one way to show potential students what the school can offer.
“We’re here for the students. That’s our bread and butter and that’s our passion. If they have an interest in aviation, this is the best place for us to show our hopefully coming students – future students – what is involved,” said de Oude.
The aviation camp is a joint initiative from Wasaya Airways, The Kenny Foundation, Confederation College’s School of Aviation, Negahneewin and Wasaya Community Economic Development Corporation.
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