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Air Canada is marking National Indigenous Peoples Day by highlighting the achievements and contributions of its Indigenous employees. This week, flight AC185 from Toronto to Vancouver, operated with Air Canada’s flagship Boeing 787 Dreamliner, was flown by an all-Indigenous full crew of two pilots and nine flight attendants. This flight was also supported by Indigenous employees on the ground.
“We are honoured to salute and acknowledge the achievements and contributions of Air Canada’s 350 First Nations, Inuit and Métis employees, who originated the idea of operating a flight with an all-Indigenous crew. We are thrilled to champion their pride in their identity and their professional attainments in aviation, which also makes them incredible ambassadors for our company and role models for young people. As well, we are appreciative of our Indigenous employees’ desire to help us demonstrate that Air Canada is a company that promotes and celebrates diversity and is a company open to and welcoming of all talents,” said Arielle Meloul-Wechsler, senior vice-president of People, Culture & Communications.
“Leading by example, Air Canada is first out of the gate to deploy an entirely Indigenous-operated flight acknowledging the contributions of their Indigenous employees. This is an unprecedented move to advance Indigenous participation and business initiatives, and will motivate other companies to support long-term sustainable opportunities that enhance our economy,” said JP Gladu, president and CEO of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB). “I am proud and honoured that Air Canada is a CCAB member and look forward to our continued partnership together.”
“Air Canada has been a valued supporter of Indspire for 27 years as founding partner and official airline of the Indspire Awards. With this initiative, they are demonstrating that they really walk the talk,” said Roberta Jamieson, president and CEO of Indspire. “When I speak with First Nations, Inuit and Métis students, I tell them they can do anything they set their minds to, so to see themselves well represented in this industry really drives that point home. Bravo Air Canada!”
Air Canada has been named one of Canada’s best diversity employers for four consecutive years and actively cultivates diversity to ensure that all qualified individuals have equal opportunities for career development and advancement. Through the airline’s internal diversity committees that support diversity initiatives, Indigenous employees regularly participate in aboriginal and Indigenous career fairs and events across Canada to share their career stories and provide insights into working at Air Canada. Apart from flying and working onboard Air Canada’s global fleet as pilots and flight attendants, Indigenous employees also hold customer service positions at airports and contact centres, and occupy professional maintenance, specialized operational and corporate management positions throughout the organization.
In its approach to diversity recruitment, the airline supports aboriginal human resource organizations, including the Centre for Aboriginal Human Resource Development Inc., FNTI and Indspire, an Indigenous-led registered charity organization whose vision is to enrich Canada through Indigenous education and by inspiring achievement. Through Indspire, Air Canada has also offered 24 bursaries over the last three years to young Indigenous people studying to become pilots or Aerospace engineers.
Air Canada also works closely with Amik (Professional Indigenous Engagement Services) and Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB), Aboriginal Futures, CFT7, the Kanawake and Kanesatake communities, along with other Indigenous organizations throughout Canada.
Air Canada’s Corporate Sustainability Report details the airline’s diversity and community initiatives. Cultural support initiatives include the support and promotion of aboriginal filmmakers whose works are shown on the carrier’s in-flight entertainment programming available to millions of customers each month, and the support of Indigenous artists. The Air Canada Foundation also supports several Indigenous youth health and wellness programs.