Air Canada marked International Women's Day 2021 on March 8 by celebrating the contributions and achievements of its women employees.
Four Air Canada women in non-traditional aviation careers share how they pivoted, then navigated with flexibility and resilience the ever-changing events related to the COVID-19 pandemic during a year like no other.
The airline also championed the next generation of women aviators as it announced four winners in the second year of the Captain Judy Cameron Scholarship.
"On International Women's Day, we proudly acknowledge the achievements and contributions of all our women employees around the world. Our airline met COVID-19's unprecedented challenges by collectively finding solutions and women across Air Canada held key, extraordinary roles as we navigated through the complexities," said Arielle Meloul-Wechsler, Executive Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer and Public Affairs at Air Canada.
Women operated repatriation flights to bring Canadians home, handled the logistics of and operated cargo-only flights to transport medical supplies, PPE and vaccines, qualified as loadmasters to operate converted cargo-only aircraft, liaised around the clock with government agencies to implement dynamic travel restrictions, developed and implemented medical support services to support Air Canada's front line employees, assumed critical leadership positions to advance practical, science-based, testing measures as part of a multi-layered approach to managing COVID-19, in addition to delivering customer service to customers who needed to travel, and more, said Ms. Meloul-Wechsler.
"As a global airline, our people are one of our most powerful assets and we know the exceptional synergies and perspective a diverse workforce creates. Women hold professional positions at every level including as C-suite executives. We are proud to be recognized for our leadership in advancing diversity, and for promoting and mentoring the next generation of female aviators," she said.
Air Canada has exceeded its previously established targets to have women represent at least 30 per cent of senior management by 2020 and to have at least 30 per cent of its Board of Directors comprised of women.
Air Canada was recently recognized for the sixth consecutive year as one of Canada's best diversity employers through its multi-pronged initiatives to foster diversity across its workforce worldwide.
Air Canada's Corporate Sustainability Report which details its diversity programs is available here.
2021 Winners of the Captain Judy Cameron Scholarship
As part of Air Canada's efforts to promote non-traditional aviation careers to the next generation of women, it established the Captain Judy Cameron Scholarship in honour of the airline's trailblazing first female pilot.
The scholarship recognizes high-potential women studying in aviation and aerospace, and is open to young women pursuing non-traditional aviation careers such as commercial pilots or aircraft maintenance engineers who may not have the financial means to do so.
This year's winners are: Kahina Gagnon, Urooj Ali, Winnie Ho and Caitlyn Lam.
"After such a difficult year, it is especially uplifting and encouraging to see these four young women determinedly pursuing their dreams in aviation. Their accomplishments to date are outstanding, as is their desire to inspire and assist others. Air Canada made it possible for me to experience the most amazing career in the world, and I am grateful for their encouragement of other women in their passion for aviation," said Judy Cameron, Boeing 777 Captain at Air Canada (retired), and Director, Northern Lights Aero Foundation.
The winners of the Captain Judy Cameron Scholarship for 2021, awarded in partnership with the Northern Lights Aero Foundation, each receive $5,000 toward their studies in aviation.
All four young women are also pursuing their commercial pilot's license.
To learn more about the 2021 winners, watch this video about their achievements.
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