The First Nations Technical Institute (FNTI) is receiving a federal grant of $4.9 million for the expansion of flight training for Indigenous peoples.

“Air transportation is absolutely crucial to the sustainability of our indigenous communities, many of which have limited road infrastructure,” Anne Tabobandung, FNTI’s dean of aviation told local media. “This investment means increased participation of Indigenous people in the aviation sector, who are more likely to return to their communities.”

It has proven difficult to retain experienced pilots in the remote North. Many young pilots find their first jobs in the North but then move on to jobs with bigger airlines in southern Canada, effectively abandoning the local knowledge they gained that is so often vital for the safe conduct of flights in remote areas of the North. By attracting Indigenous peoples to piloting careers, it is hoped that they will stay in their communities and provide local air operators with dependable, long-term employees.

The Deseronto, Ontario-based institute receives around 75 applications from potential students each year but up until now has only been able to accept 10 each year.

The FNTI serves 172 of the 667 First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities across Canada, and 102 of the 129 in Ontario.

FNTI partners with Canadore College for the flight training portion of their program, which is conducted at the FNTI-operated Tyendinaga (Mohawk) airport (CPU6) on the outskirts of Deseronto.

Photo credit: FNTI