Teara Fraser, right, founder of Iskwew Air, received the Business Woman of the Year award at the 2022 BC Tourism and Hospitality Awards during the 2022 BC Tourism and Hospitality Conference at the Richmond Conference Centre on Musqueam territory, on Thursday, March 10, 2022. (Mark Kinskofer, Vision Event Photography photo)

Teara Fraser, right, founder of Iskwew Air, received the Business Woman of the Year award at the 2022 BC Tourism and Hospitality Awards during the 2022 BC Tourism and Hospitality Conference at the Richmond Conference Centre on Musqueam territory, on Thursday, March 10, 2022. (Mark Kinskofer, Vision Event Photography photo)

Iskwew Air founder wins Business Woman of the Year award

Teara Fraser honoured at 2022 BC Tourism and Hospitality Awards

The founder of an airline that services the Qualicum Beach Airport has won another prestigious award.

The 2022 BC Tourism and Hospitality Awards, sponsored by Indigenous Tourism BC, were awarded during the 2022 BC Tourism and Hospitality Conference at the Richmond Conference Centre on Musqueam territory.

Iskwew Air founder, Teara Fraser, a Métis woman, was awarded the Business Woman of the Year award, sponsored by Prince of Whales, on Thursday, March 10.

The airline is the first Indigenous woman owned airline that launched its inaugural flight between Vancouver International Airport and Qualicum Beach Airport, welcomed by both Musqueam and Qualicum First Nations, on Aug. 16, 2021.

Fraser said it was encouraging to be acknowledged for their efforts.

READ MORE: Iskwew Air celebrates first arrival at Qualicum Beach Airport with water salute

“We received an operating certificate to commence operations just before COVID was upon us. So it’s been a very difficult time. It’s encouraging to be acknowledged for our hard work and for our perseverance through an extraordinarily challenging time. Aviation and tourism has been deeply impacted by COVID. And so to be celebrating and to be acknowledging the accomplishments of many feels promising – it feels hopeful.”

Fraser has also been named in Canada’s Top 25 Most Influential Women in 2020, WXN Canada’s Most Powerful Women Top 100 in 2019, was awarded a 2020 YWCA Women of Distinction Award for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the 2021 Canie Awards for Entrepreneur of the Year, and has been featured on MacLean’s 2021 Power List.

According to Fraser, even with her many successes, aviation and aerospace still remains a male-dominated industry with little diversity.

“The challenge has been trying to fit into a system that wasn’t built for you. Part of what Iskwew Air is, is about disrupting those systems and encouraging more diversity and encouraging women to be part of the system,” she said. “Even our name is an act of disruption.”

Iskwew, (pronounced ISS-KWAY-YO), is a Cree word for woman, and was chosen as an act of reclamation of womanhood, matriarchal leadership and language.

Fraser said her airline values de-carbonizing and decolonizing the skies for future generations. She also emphasized Iskwew Air does not hire just women, but people of all genders, and is very conscious about uplifting those that have been colonially, historically and intentionally excluded.

READ MORE: Iskwew Air opens services at Qualicum Beach Airport, provides flights to YVR

She said the airline is excited to reimagine, re-matriate and rebuild an air transportation system that centres equity and sustainability.

“One of the things that we’re really excited about, when it comes to the future of Iskwew Air, is we see ourselves as a bridge between traditional air transportation and the sustainable technology of the future – the innovative technologies that will have us walking more softly on Mother Earth,” said Fraser. “COVID has had a significant impact on our industry, and so, how do we wish to rebuild it? For me, I think it’s fundamentally important that we centre equity and sustainability in building of that future and to take seriously our role in that.”

For entrepreneurs, Fraser emphasizes the importance to envision dreams, create pathways to achieve them, and have the courage to challenge obstacles.

“What motivates me to keep going is asking how am I doing good with what I’ve learned, and how to serve future generations with that. One of my mantras is; dream it, design it, do it. Simply, what is it that you envision as possible, and then design that road map and have the courage to do it.”

mandy.moraes@pqbnews.com

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