Iskwew Air celebrates inaugural scheduled flight from Qualicum Beach to Vancouver

Iskwew Air was greeted with a water arch salute when its plane, Sweetgrass Warrior, touched down at Vancouver airport. || Photo courtesy of Iskwew Air.
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Iskwew Air flew its inaugural scheduled flight to Vancouver Monday morning, departing Qualicum Beach Airport at 7:30 a.m. 

The Indigenous-owned airline was greeted with a water arch salute when its plane, Sweetgrass Warrior, touched down at Vancouver airport. 

Sweetgrass Warrior’s crew and passengers were offered a cedar brushing upon arrival at YVR.

“Thelma and Art [Stogan] did a cedar brushing of the The Sweetgrass Warrior back in 2018 when Iskwew Air hosted a blessing ceremony to ask permission of Musqueam to conduct business on their land. Fast forward almost 3 years to 2021, Thelma and Art returned to brush and honour Iskwew Air’s inaugural scheduled service,” reads a media release from the airline.

Later that day Iskwew flew its inaugural return flight to Qualicum Beach. The carrier flies to Vancouver Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. 

Both Iskwew and Oceanside Air launched regular service from Qualicum Beach to Vancouver this month, marking the first regular flights since April 2020.

Iskwew (pronounced ISS-KWAY-YO) is the Cree word for woman. Teara Fraser, Iskwew Air founder, said the word was chosen as an intentional act of the reclamation of womanhood, matriarchal leadership and language. 

Iskwew Air said the BC Tourism Indigenous Recovery Fund helped it to launch the new service. The carrier began chartered operations in October 2019 and is based out of YVR.

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