Piloting with Raven Beardy

As part of Connected North’s Future Pathways program, TakingITGlobal is interviewing Indigenous role models about their work, their art, their challenges, and their inspirations. We call them Future Pathways Fireside Chats.

When Raven Beardy was growing up, she knew she wanted to get her pilot’s license — she just didn’t know she would make it into a career.

Beardy is originally from Shamattawa in northern Manitoba, but has also lived up in the north in places such as Pond Inlet, Grise Fiord, and Cambridge Bay.

“Growing up in isolation up in Shamattawa where the only way to get things in and out was by plane,” said Beardy.

“So I saw that as a little kid and I actually also got my medevac child as well. I just thought it was really cool, planes were really cool to me.”

Beardy remembers a time when she was seven the power went out in her community and they had to call the medevac to come in.

“The community got together and actually lined up their snowmobiles along the runways so the plane could land. And I just really thought that was inspiring that the community got together,” said Beardy.

Illustration by Kailey Sheppard

But of course Beardy hasn’t always been a pilot. She went to a three-year aviation program in southern Ontario that focused on Indigenous students to become what she is.

Beardy says one of the best things about her program was she wasn’t the only one there that wasn’t from far away and that everyone was “in the same boat.”

She says there are many ways to go about getting a pilot’s license and people just need to figure out what they want to do.

But of course, becoming the pilot she is today didn’t come without its obstacles.

After flight school, Beardy says once someone is finished they usually start working for a flight company and start off on the ground doing jobs such as dispatcher or a customer representative to get a feel of the company.

“That’s usually how it works. And when I graduated with many other pilots, like I was waiting on ground for five years before, or sorry, four years before I actually got a flight position. So it took a long time to get there,” said Beardy.

She said it was discouraging at times and in the end she just powered through it, saying it’s very rewarding in the end.

And if there were anything she could tell her younger self, it would be that just because she’s Indigenous and a female it doesn’t mean there would never be issues.

“If anything, it was more of an obstacle. I felt like, I had to prove myself even more and work harder than, the next person, which is not a bad thing,” said Beardy.

“You’re told that you’re being Indigenous… [It will be] no problem finding a job or anything like that, but it’s not true at all.”

Beardy has achieved a lot of her goals, and says the hardworking people in her life such as her grandparents and seeing their work ethic helped her, along with her parents.

“I’m very fortunate to have a really great role models in my life.”

The Connected North Future Pathways program is brought to you by TakingITGlobal with support from the RBC Foundation. Special thanks to
Jasmine Kabatay for authoring this blog post.

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