Winnipeg’s Andi Sharma, a newly minted pilot as of last summer, has a passion not only for aviation but for food security as well. As Christmas approached, Sharma sought to combine those two passions as she planned a flight to bring over 150 kg of food to a northern Manitoba community.

Coordinating with an elder from the Poplar River First Nation, Sharma planned the trip for Christmas Eve. Weather conditions on that day prevented her departure for Poplar River airport (CZNG), so she is now awaiting better meteorological conditions.

In an interview with the CBC, Sharma said, “Sometimes when I’m at my desk working on food security things, that can be very abstract. But this really gets me to the community level, to the boots-on-the-ground level, and that feels really good.”

Sharma, a food security policy analyst for the government of Manitoba, obtained her private pilot licence last summer thanks to a grant from the Manitoba chapter of the 99s. Sharma, who immigrated from Barbados in 1997, thanks her late father for sparking her interest in flying when he took her for a discovery flight when she was a teenager. “I’ve gotten to a place where I could finally pick it up again and honour his memory,” she said.

Among her other accomplishments, Sharma, a Balmoral Hall School (Winnipeg) 2003 graduate, has written for the CBC and the Huffington Post, served as a UNDP Ambassador for Social protection and spoken at a TEDx conference on food security.