I am writing this article on a flight with First Air to the rugged, strong, beautiful arctic tundra of Iqaluit. I am full of excitement as I embark upon a new adventure – travelling to Nunavut. There is one reason I am on this journey, a reason that encompasses many elements, and that reason is Elevate Aviation.
Elevate Aviation was born from a desire to help women find lives they love through an avenue they most likely never considered – aviation. Beginning with an aviation calendar, Elevate Aviation has turned into so much more. Realizing a need to bring women together in the industry, a mentorship program was formed, followed by involvement in community events, speaking engagements in schools and organizations, bursaries, the ‘Economic Security for Women through Aviation’ project (ESWA), the Elevate Aviation Learning Centre, and the Cross-Country Tour.
It is the Cross-County Tour that takes us to remote Iqaluit. In 2014, we brought a group of young women to the Edmonton Airport and created a day to take them on a tour inside the industry. When we put that day together, we had no idea that five years later we would have the Cross-Country Tour which now lands in 20 locations, including every province and territory in Canada, in a span of one week each year. This project requires a huge amount of organization and a ton of support from industry partners and volunteers, but it is totally worth all the effort when we see the results of young women looking at us and asking, ‘Why have we never heard of these careers before?’.
The annual Cross-Country Tour allows attendees to spend the day with women in the industry, hear inspirational stories o their journeys into aviation, and visit their workplaces to see firsthand why they love their jobs. These are all-day events, beginning with a morning of inspirational and passionate speakers, followed by behind-the-scenes tours of airports, aircraft hangars, air traffic control towers and centres, and more.
Participants in the Cross-Country Tour are offered a mentor from our mentorship program. This program is called ‘Elevate Aviation’s Flight Path to Success’ and is a five-tier mentorship program that provides support to women either looking to get into aviation or already in aviation who want to connect with successful women in the field. This approach helps introduce a ‘try before you buy’ experience for those looking at aviation for the first time and also supports women who are already in the field.
We now have over 90 mentors from coast to coast and over 400 mentees currently in the program, which include a number from our military mentorship program as well. Three tiers are currently active with the final two planned to launch in September, which will allow current mentors to grow their mentoring skills, as well as a 10-week masterclass.
Elevate Aviation’s bursary program is for women in Canada who show exceptional potential and need financial assistance throughout the training. Since 2015 we have awarded over $15,000.
Each year we host the Inspire Gala, profiling 8-12 women in aviation across Canada, showcasing their aviation careers. These truly inspiring women will join a network of support in the industry, characteristically by becoming speakers and mentors in our programs. Prior to the big event, we spend a weekend together filming their feature video, taking part in a photoshoot, and bonding as a group. This year’s Inspire Gala will be held in Edmonton on October 26, 2019, and the funds raised will support Elevate Aviation’s programs.
The launch of the Elevate Aviation Learning Centre is central to our mission to provide the most authentic, memorable, and life-changing aviation experience possible, and to ignite a passion for the industry. The Elevate Aviation Learning Centre immerses students and the general public in rich, week-long experiences using the resources and expertise at the Edmonton International Airport and surrounding sites through collaboration with education, business, and industry partners. We are currently looking for more partners to help make this experience across Canada, including Canada’s northern communities.
Creating Economic Security for Women through Aviation (ESWA), is a nationwide project devoted to discovering why women are not pursuing aviation as a career for economic security. We connected with nearly 6,000 Canadians, inside and outside of the industry, to understand the barriers women face so that we can create a multifaceted strategy to dismantle them.
Growing Elevate Aviation over the past few years has been equally exciting, rewarding, and challenging. It could never have happened without our team, who are fueled by the passion to make a difference. Currently, with a board of nine, a volunteer executive team of 10, and a considerable group of volunteers across the country, we have grown to the point that we have now started an ambassador program. Our ambassador program will provide an opportunity to rising stars in the industry who wish to develop and showcase their skills, while also facilitating Elevate Aviation’s growth and meeting the demands of awareness activities across Canada. We are currently accepting applications for these rewarding volunteer positions if you would like to get involved.
As I finish writing this article, we prepare to land. I look out of the aircraft window and I dream of what we will discover in this mysterious part of Canada. I anticipate the remote community with its rugged terrain and friendly people. I envision the team of women I travel with speaking about their lives and careers, illuminating pathways in the community for those we inspire to pursue aviation. I think of our team across Canada, as they embark upon their own journeys with our Cross-Country Tour and await their unique stories. Above all, I am excited for this adventure we share and look forward to wherever else Elevate Aviation wants to take us.
By Kendra Kincade
Source: AviNation Magazine