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First Female pilot from Opaskwayak Cree Nation inspiring others


After a lifetime of eyeing the sky, a woman from Opaskwayak Cree Nation has made history.

Ever since Kimberly Ballantyne was four years old she knew she wanted to be a pilot.

"I was sixteen when I actually started the journey, and I am now 36 years old. This has been like 20 years of hard work,” Ballantyne said.

But the journey was not easy as she worked full time as a Manitoba Aerospace recruiter and raised two children as a single mother.

She kept trying but found training had its challenges.

“Nine other times I had attempted to get through ground school but I had to withdrawal due to funding.”

Nevertheless, Ballantyne kept her eyes on the sky. She documented her whole journey through the ups and downs - inspiring others along the way

“The biggest difference was never giving up. Even though it didn't work those nine other times, I never once thought that I was never going to be a pilot.”

The president of Harv’s Air Service, where Ballantyne trains, says there is a lot to learn - and you have to really want it to succeed.

“We learn to fly because of freedom. You know we're not stuck to the roads. We're not stuck to trails or property. We can truly go anywhere,” Adam Penner said.

After a lifetime of longing, Ballantyne earned her private pilot's licence on August 11.

“I made history for our community by becoming the first indigenous woman pilot in Opaskwayak Cree Nation,” Ballantyne said.

Ballantyne's high-flying journey is not over yet. Her next step is becoming a commercial pilot.

“I love what I do. You definitely need a passion to fly,” she said. “I want to create a better life for my children and I've also showed them that if you put in the hard work you accomplish your dreams. My children are my strength.”

Ballantyne is encouraging young girls who are interested in aviation to check out girls in aviation day on September 24 at the Royal Aviation Museum Of Western Canada. Top Stories

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