Teara Fraser of Iskwew Air with Nuxalk Nation council members Iris Siwallace and Crystal Tallio and WKTNC staff Kiaya Tallio and Kiana Lanee (Caitlin Thompson photo)

Iskwew Air brings some love to Bella Coola

The Indigenous, female-owned airline touched down in Bella Coola on Sept. 29

Bella Coola got a special treat on Sept. 29 when Indigenous-owned charter airline service, Iskwew Air, visited the community through their AirLIFT program, which is delivering essential goods to Indigenous communities all over the province.

The airline and the Indigenous LIFT Collective are collaborating in service of Indigenous peoples and communities in the challenging times of COVID-19. When welcomed in, AirLIFT flies essential goods and supplies to Indigenous communities in British Columbia.

Provided by a crowdfunding campaign , the goods brought in include masks, sanitizer, gloves, cleaning supplies, soap and skin care, garden seeds and tools, safety equipment, wellness kits and much more!

Some supplies are donated, while others are sourced from Indigenous and women-owned businesses when possible.

“I’ve been watching the weather waiting to get in,” said Teara Fraser, Iskwew Air’s founder and Lead Executive Officer. “We had to go to Alert Bay today too, so it was the perfect time. And the flight was beautiful.

Iskwew Air, pronounced ISS-KWAY-YO, is a female-owned and operated charter airline service. Iskwew is a Cree word for woman. The name was chosen to celebrate the first Indigenous woman owned airline, all women, and all those lifting women. Its founder and Lead Executive Officer, Teara Fraser, is Metis and the first Indigenous woman to launch an airline in Canada.

Iskwew Air is currently based out of the South Terminal in Vancouver and currently provides, an all-weather, 24-hour aircraft charter service throughout British Columbia, in their twin-engine aircraft, the Sweetgrass Warrior.

Fraser’s trip was organized by the WKTNC (Wuikinuxv Kitasoo Nuxalk Tribal Council) and her cargo included essential items such as hand sanitizer, homemade masks, cleaning supplies and even veggies. These will all be distributed to the community by volunteers.

Fraser has been a commercial pilot for just over 20 years and says it was “transformational” to her life. She loves to see others fall in love with flight and is inspired by connecting people with our changing land.

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