“I first became a flight attendant 15 years ago. If I had told myself 15 years ago, ‘You’re going to be the captain of the plane you’re working on right now,’ I wouldn’t have known where to start.”
Melissa Haney, from the small village of Inukjuak, Nunavik, on Hudson Bay, became the first Inuk woman to captain a Dash 8 for the Quebec-based airline Air Inuit in July. She said she was always interested in being a pilot, but never knew how to even get started. But once she started working in the industry, the goal became much more tangible.
Even though Haney moved south when she was eight, she says her mother always made sure to remind her where she came from. “I knew one day I’d make my way back there, where my roots are,” she says. Now, she savours her opportunities to see the North from the sky; the scenery is her favourite part of the job.
But she also takes advantage of the job’s status, using it to encourage women from the North. “It’s a position where I’m very visible, especially up North,” she says. “It’s a great honour. I take it very seriously. If other girls tell me they’re interested in becoming a pilot, I tell them to just keep going. Even if they don’t become a pilot, just having a goal is a great thing. Getting out of town, getting educated.”