Eagle’s Wings Flight School (EWFS), a volunteer-run, not for profit organization in Portage la Prairie, MB is gearing up for their second summer in the skies with Indigenous students. Young people from five different First Nations across southern Manitoba will participate in the July flight training program. Ranging from 15 to 19 years old, most have never flown before and don’t have their driver’s licenses yet. Each student will fly 10 hours in an Allegro 2000 Advanced Ultralight airplane and learn aircraft handling, take offs, landings, and the basics of navigation.
Before first flights, EWFS will host three days of ground school covering topics ranging from the fundamentals of flight to weather and airport operations. Unique to the program are Cultural Connections Sessions in which the students learn about Canada’s Indian Act and the history of colonialism in Canada. These sessions are led by sponsor agency Dakota and Ojibway Child and Family Services. A highlight for this year’s class will be sessions led by Anishinaabe and Dakota Elders who will share about their language and cultural traditions.
The student pilots will have the opportunity to tour Southport’s Air Traffic Control Tower and Red River College’s Stevenson Campus Aircraft Maintenance Program as they explore careers in various aerospace sectors. The class has had professional pilots, military pilots and AMEs talk about their chosen career paths during virtual preparatory ground school sessions.
EWFS aims to inspire youth to explore their innate gifts, build self-confidence, and develop practical life-skills through aviation training.
At the end of the day, we would love to see all of our students pursue a career in aviation. But if all they gain from their time with us is a sense of accomplishment and a newfound confidence after taking on a challenge and overcoming the anxieties that go with that, then we consider that a huge success,” says Chair and Flight Instructor Joshua Cordery.
The vision shared by EWFS and their generous donors and sponsors is to see young people’s lives transformed by a renewed hope for a bright and successful future, regardless of any economic, personal, or social barriers they may face. At a pivotal time in history, a renewed hope for a bright and successful future among Canada’s Indigenous youth looks like ‘slipping the surly bonds of earth’ in Portage la Prairie, MB.