First female Inuk airline captain gets commemorative stamp
Published Tuesday, August 15, 2017 4:55PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, August 15, 2017 6:57PM EDT
A 36-year-old Inuk woman is being honoured as a trailblazer and a role model.
Airline captain Melissa Haney is getting her own a commemorative stamp.
“I'm the first female Inuk captain at Air Inuit,” said Haney.
Raised in the community of Inukjuak on the shores of Hudson Bay, aviation is a way of life there.
“Planes are the only way to get in and out of town, so it's like second nature,” she said.
Even as a young child, Haney loved going to the airport and eventually got a job as a flight attendant. Eventually she set her sights on new horizons.
“I said, 'Oh no. I can't do this anymore. I need to be up front,’” she recalled.
Flight school led to a seat in the cockpit in smaller aircraft and then a promotion to the Dash 8. Last year, she made the jump from the first officer's position to the captain's seat.
“Before, if the weather wasn't good somewhere, I would just tell the captain the weather's not good and they would make the decisions. But now everybody's coming to me,” she said.
The Canadian 99s, the largest organization of female aviators, came up with the idea of commemorative stamps to celebrate Canadian female pilots, and carried it out thanks to the Canada Post's Picture Postage program.
Haney is the 10th honouree of the Aviatrix series.
“She has demonstrated what you can do with determination and hard work. She's a wonderful role model,” said Marilyn Dickson of the Canadian 99s.
“It’s not just a stamp for me, but it's kind of something that all of Nunavik and all of my family and all of Air Inuit can celebrate together,” said Haney.
Air Inuit president Pita Aatami said Haney is an inspiration.
“She's a role model for all people in Nunavik, whether they're women, whether they're men,” said Aatami.
Quebec Native Affairs Minister Geoff Kelley agreed, telling Haney, “Your success inspires other people. And it's a very old, very simple process that you lead by example. And your example is an example for other people across Nunavik,” he said.
Haney is teaching the next generation that the sky’s the limit.
“Seeing young girls or boys say they want to be a pilot when they grow up, I tell them they can,” she said. “Believe in yourself and you will be unstoppable.”