Qualicum Beach Airport has a new airline, Iskwew Air, that will provide flights between Qualicum Beach and Vancouver Internation Airport.
The airport had been lacking scheduled service to YVR since April 2020 when Island Express ceased its operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Iskwew Air came in to offer their services. They engaged residents of Qualicum Beach, Qualicum First Nation and the surrounding area through surveys and a community engagement session held in June in order to hear how the airline could serve the community. There has been overwhelming interest with residents voicing support and stressing how important air service is for travel, tourism, connecting family, and getting to medical appointments.
“We have been working towards this for a long time, this is a very exciting day,” said Teara Fraser, Iskwew Air Founder.
Fraser is a Métis bridge builder, the first to start a 100 per cent Indigenous woman-owned airline in Canada. Iskwew Air’s vision is to connect people with each other and to the land.
“The town has been working diligently to provide regular airline service to and from Qualicum Beach and we are pleased that Iskwew Air will begin flying out of the Qualicum Beach Airport,” said Mayor Brian Wiese on behalf of Coun. Rober Filmer, who is the town’s airport liaison. “They will be a valuable addition to our town.”
Indigenous Tourism BC, through a partnership with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport, is delivering $5 million in grants to 140 Indigenous tourism businesses through the BC Tourism Indigenous Recovery Fund. Iskwew Air is using its grant to launch scheduled service between Qualicum Beach and YVR.
Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport, Minister Melanie Mark, who is the only First Nations woman to serve in cabinet, and MLA, Henry Yao visited Iskwew Air head office on July 26 to see first hand how the B.C. Indigenous Tourism Recovery Fund Program is supporting Iskwew Air in order to navigate the COVID-19 disruption and adapt in order to thrive.
— NEWS Staff, submitted