The first airline founded and owned by an Indigenous woman in Canada has signed a new memorandum of understanding with Vancouver International Airport.
“Together we will decolonize and decarbonize our skies for the next seven generations,” Iskwew founder Teara Fraser said at the Monday signing.
“I do believe that co-creating the conditions for Indigenous businesses to thrive is one of the single most natural, swift and effective pathways to economic reconciliation, and that is exactly what YVR has stepped up to do.”
The B.C.-born Iskwew Air provides daily service between YVR’s South Terminal and Qualicum Beach Airport on Vancouver Island and began chartered operations in 2019. It offsets the climate-polluting emissions of all of its flights, and supports the Great Bear Rainforest Carbon Project.
The goal of the new agreement is to improve connectivity across rural, remote and Indigenous communities in British Columbia and engage in a meaningful partnership, YVR CEO Tamara Vrooman said.
“Before the pandemic Indigenous tourism in Canada was the fastest-growing segment of our tourism sector,” she said.
“Signing this MOU will allow us to … work in partnership with Teara who has started this amazing airline to ensure that our Indigenous tourism sector grows, but also to ensure we’re facilitating the much needed connection via air to our rural and Indigenous communities.”
The agreement was signed the same day the federal government confirmed Canada will drop its border rules pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As of Oct. 1, travellers will no longer have to submit public health information through ArriveCAN, provide proof of vaccination, undergo testing, quarantine or isolate, and monitor and report if they develop signs or symptoms of COVID-19 upon arriving in Canada. They can also ditch the face masks on plans and trains.
Vrooman said she was “delighted” that the science supported the lifting of restrictions.