September 10, 2019
(Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, Ont.) -- Last week, the Government of Canada announced a $4.9 million investment in the First Nations Technical Institute (FNTI) to strengthen its First Peoples’ aviation flight pilot program.
The funding will be harnessed to increase culturally-relevant programming and the participation of women and Indigenous peoples in the aviation industry by reducing barriers, including a lack of awareness regarding career pathways, high costs, as well as gender.
“Air transportation is absolutely crucial to the sustainability of our Indigenous communities, many of which have limited road infrastructure,” said Jo-Anne Tabobandung, Dean of Aviation at FNTI. “This investment means increased participation of Indigenous people in the aviation sector, who are more likely to return to their communities.”
FNTI receives nearly 75 student applications annually for its First Peoples’ Aviation Technology – Flight advanced diploma program. Until this investment, the institute could only accept 10 flight students per year due to the size of its aircraft fleet, infrastructure limitations, flight instructors, aircraft maintenance engineers, faculty and student support.
According to the Canadian Council for Aviation and Aerospace, only seven per cent of airline pilots are female and 7,300 new pilots will be needed by 2025.
FNTI’s flight program already trains a high percentage of female learners – currently 42 per cent – for careers in what is widely considered a male-dominant field. Tabobandung says the investment will positively contribute to growth, inclusivity and innovation, allowing our Indigenous populations to overturn the looming skilled labour shortage in the aviation sector.
The flight program at FNTI is the only post-secondary program of its kind in Canada. Delivered in partnership with Canadore College, it provides hands-on training for students interested in pursuing a career as a commercial pilot.
FNTI serves 172 of 667 First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities across Canada, and 102 of 129 in Ontario. The institute welcomes approximately 300 students annually, who range from 18 to 70+ years of age and come from Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, Inuit, Métis and Mi’kmaq descent.
The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and the Minister responsible for FedDev Ontario, announced the investment on Friday of last week.
The First Nations Technical Institute (FNTI) is an Indigenous-owned and governed post-secondary institute founded in programming rooted in Indigegogy and Indigenous ways of knowing. FNTI is a registered charitable organization, accredited by the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium (WINHEC), and a member of Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan). FNTI has over 3,000 graduates with certificate, diploma and degree credentials issued in partnership with recognized Ontario colleges and universities and will begin the delivery of standalone bachelor’s degrees in 2020 in accordance with the Indigenous Institute Act, 2017.
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