When dreams take flight: Teara Fraser, pilot and CEO of Iskwew Air

Teara Fraser is the first Indigenous woman to launch an airline in Canada, Iskwew Air.

Teara was a single mother with two kids, working various jobs to provide for her family. At age 30, on a trip to Africa she took her first flight in a small plane and fell in love with flying.

“I can tell you everything about that moment. I just wanted to touch everything in the airplane and I wanted to know what everything was. And I think that was the beginning of my love for flying. It’s such a clear memory of that moment where I said, I don’t care what it takes to be able to do this. I want to fly an airplane.”

Teara pursued her new passion with fervor and dedication and within the year, she earned her commercial pilot’s license. She worked as a commercial pilot, then in 2010 started her own aerial survey company which she built from the ground up before selling in 2016.

“Becoming a pilot changed everything about my life. Getting my wings or getting my pilot’s license has truly given me wings for everything else in my life. When I’m made that seemingly impossible thing to become a pilot possible. It opened the doors for other possibilities and for me to believe in other possible things, and literally gave me wings.”

During the 2010 winter Olympics, Teara had the idea to build an Indigenous airline. Tourists from all over the world were in Vancouver and many were interested in learning about indigenous culture and visiting Indigenous communities in BC. but there were few airlines able to provide service to these small remote communities.

“I started my own airline because I wanted a place where I belonged. I wanted to place where my kind of leadership was embraced and respected: matriarchal leadership. Our values are love and adventure, the warrior spirit, reclamation and reciprocity.”

“Sheer tenacity is been necessary through my career. I have a mantra: dream it, design it, do it. And when you have a dream, you figure out a path to make it happen. You need to overcome obstacles and barriers and be tenacious in what it is that you want.”

In addition to her work in aviation, Teara also founded The Raven Institute, a learning, reconciliation, resilience, healing, gathering place and space that weaves in traditional Indigenous practices and worldview.

To learn more about Iskwew Air, visit their website at:
https://www.iskwew.ca/

To learn more about Raven Institute, visit their website at:
http://raveninstitute.ca/

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