Iskwew (pronounced Iss-kway-yo) Air has announced its first scheduled service between Qualicum Beach Airport and Vancouver International Airport (YVR).
The decision to begin flights to Qualicum was made after overwhelming support was received from residents of Qualicum Beach, Qualicum First Nation and the surrounding area, who were consulted through surveys and a community engagement session to hear how the airline could serve the community.
“The town has been working diligently to provide regular airline service to and from Qualicum Beach and we are pleased that Iskwew Air will begin flying out of the Qualicum Beach Airport,” said Mayor Brian Wiese. “They will be a valuable addition to our town.”
Indigenous Tourism BC, through a partnership with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport, is delivering $5 million in grants to 140 Indigenous tourism businesses through the BC Tourism Indigenous Recovery Fund. Iskwew Air is using its grant to launch the Qualicum Beach service.
“Indigenous Tourism BC [ITBC] congratulates Iskwew Air on their new scheduled services between YVR and Qualicum Beach,” said Paula Amos, chief marketing & development officer ITBC. “We are proud to see our Indigenous tourism businesses, including Iskwew Air, recover from COVID-19 with adapted strategies to deliver exceptional Indigenous tourism experiences to domestic travellers and soon international travellers.”
Iskwew Air was founded by Teara Fraser, a Métis who was born in Hay River, N.W.T. and whose Métis family comes from Fort Chipewyan, Alta., a fly-in only community. A pilot for 15 years, Fraser previously flew for Hawkair, a Terrace-based regional airline, flying to towns such as Masset and Prince Rupert.
“It is powerful to see matriarchs create opportunities to support tourism and connect communities,” said the Honourable Minister Melanie Mark, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport, and the first First Nations woman to serve in B.C.’s Legislative Assembly. “Our government is happy to provide grants through the BC Indigenous Tourism Recovery Fund Program to contribute to the post COVID-19 economic recovery. So proud of the work that matriarch, pilot and founder of Iskwew Air, Teara Fraser is doing in connecting people to each other and the land, including [this] announcement. Building meaningful partnerships with one another and the land is reconciliation in action.”
The name ‘Iskwew’ is a Cree word for woman, and Fraser wants the airline to be known for its Indigenous focus.