'Sounds from the Sky:' First Nations pilot aims to inspire young Indigenous flyers
Timothy Atik (Tik) Mason has fond childhood memories of boarding large aircraft that would take him from Winnipeg to loved ones in his home community of St. Theresa Point First Nation in northern Manitoba.
"It was like this big, huge, magic machine when I was a child," Mason said in an interview with The Canadian Press.
"At a very young age I developed this kind of wonder about it."
The 43-year-old now pilots those planes.
Mason spent his first few years in St. Theresa Point before moving south to Winnipeg. The Oji-Cree community is only accessible by airplane or winter ice road, so many residents become acquainted with flying early in life.
These trips back home sparked an interest that would lay dormant for decades.
Mason was working as a bartender but searching for more career stability when one of his regular customers offered to take him flying as a gesture of appreciation.
"It just kind of sparked (something) in me, kind of like a light bulb. Like, this is what I'm looking for -- being up in the air and having that sort of freedom and that sense of always being on top of things."
He began flight training in 2016 and last fall, his childhood aspirations came full circle when he landed a Dash 8 turboprop in his home community.
The aircraft was owned by Perimeter Aviation, an airline that serves Manitoba and northwestern Ontario.
His parents, relatives and council members were there for the landing.
"It was quite an emotional experience for myself to be able to be there," Roy Mason said about watching his son fly.
Mason worked full-time to fund his training, which happened once or twice a month. Around 2018, he was awarded the Bill Wehrle Scholarship named after the founder of Perimeter.
The scholarship allowed Mason to move to New Brunswick to attend MFC Training, a pilot school in Moncton.
Chris Walsh, director of quality and safety at the school, first met Mason in the spring of 2018.
"He's kind of a sponge, seeking information from people who have been doing it for a long time and kind of looking for every little stream of information to be able to mould himself a little better," said Walsh.
Mason became an instructor with the school in 2019, a role in which Walsh says Mason excels.
"His desire to reach out and help people is a rare commodity in today's environment. He's lending a hand whenever required and also seeking out and letting people know when he needs help."
The decision to leave Manitoba for the East Coast was not an easy one. Mason spent years touring as part of the award-winning bands Burnt Project 1 and Indian City. It was on one of these tours that he received word a family member had died.
When it came time to advance his career as a pilot, he worked with the company that owns Perimeter and the school to develop a plan that allows him to return home if needed to support his family.
Last year, Mason was hired as a pilot based in Thompson, Man.
"It's what I've always wanted to do and I'm doing it in, mostly, the communities I wanted to serve."
Mason recently helped develop a program to give aspiring Indigenous pilots in northern Manitoba the chance to train closer to home.
Exchange Income Corporation is in the process of launching the Atik Mason Indigenous Pilot Pathway program. The corporation owns several subsidiaries, including Perimeter. Flight training is to take place in Thompson and members who complete the program are to have a chance to work for one of the corporation's airlines.
Roy Mason said it has been a joy to watch his son open doors for youth.
"I think he always wanted to be a role model and see the youth in First Nations communities be able to realize their goals."
When Mason looks back on his career choices, he thinks about the medicine name an elder gave him. It translates to "Sounds from the Sky."
Aviation has presented him with the full truth of his name, he says.
"Many chapters to come, I'm sure."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 23, 2022.
Winnipeg Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has agreed to resign, his office said Thursday, ending an unprecedented political crisis over his future that has paralyzed Britain's government.
Boris Johnson was due to resign as Britain's prime minister on Thursday, bringing an end to a turbulent two and half years in office and triggering a search for a new leader.
Several vaccine manufacturers are racing to develop formulas that take into account the more infectious Omicron variant now driving cases, while policymakers are laying the groundwork for another large-scale vaccine blitz.
A well-known Ukrainian paramedic who was held prisoner by Russian and separatist forces for three months after being captured in the southeastern city of Mariupol has accused her guards of psychological and physical torture during her time in captivity.
Video has emerged showing a worker dangling in the air above a Toronto construction site after accidently getting entangled in a tagline attached to a crane.
The federal government has no intention of dropping the controversial ArriveCan app because it gives the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) key health information about travellers who test positive for COVID-19 through testing at airports and land borders, senior government sources tell CTV News.
Patrick Brown is alleging political corruption played a role in his disqualification from the Conservative Party of Canada's leadership race, a move that came following allegations that his campaign violated election financing rules.
Jailed American basketball star Brittney Griner returns to a Russian court on Thursday amid a growing chorus of calls for Washington to do more to secure her release nearly five months after she was arrested on drug charges.
Despite being disqualified by the Conservative Party of Canada from becoming its next leader, ousted candidate Patrick Brown's name will still appear on the ballot.
The city’s executive committee discussed possible upgrades for Regina’s recreation facilities and event venues during a meeting Wednesday.
'I feel like I have everything to lose': Riders' Tevin Jones looks to maintain place on active roster
Wide Receiver Tevin Jones got his first regular season Canadian Football League (CFL) start in week four and will look to continue the momentum against Ottawa.
SaskEnergy has gained ownership of its Regina head office building following a decade long legal battle.
A crash involving a fire hydrant was the first in a chain of events that led to a chaotic scene in a Saskatoon intersection.
Starting Thursday, riders looking to take Access Transit to get to their destinations will notice a shift in service over the next three weeks.
Two Ukrainian refugees, a brother and sister, are settling into their new home in Saskatoon.
Christ the King Church in Sudbury is looking for your scrap vehicle.
Whether you’re looking for a change of pace, a breath of fresh air, or a glimpse into nature, northern Ontario has an outdoor oasis waiting to be discovered.
The chair of the Station Mall Merchants Association says news of the mall's sale to a southern Ontario holding company brings to a close years of uncertainty regarding the future of the property.
Wade Stene, who admitted to kidnapping and sexually assaulting an eight-year-old Edmonton girl, was sentenced to 15.5 years behind bars Wednesday afternoon.
Emergency crews were called to a Mill Woods school on Wednesday after a security guard reportedly experienced irritation on their hands after finding a white powder.
Blackfalds RCMP were called to the scene of a serious hit and run collision Wednesday evening.
'I cannot get any rest': Residents complain of sleepless nights after alleged nightclub opens up under condo
Residents living in Toronto’s west end say they have been left utterly exhausted after an alleged nightclub opened up at the base of their condominium.
Ontario has likely entered a new wave of the pandemic driven by the more infectious BA.5 subvariant, the province’s science advisory table says.
A mother from Nova Scotia is speaking out about her recent travel experience through Toronto Pearson Airport after a WestJet flight delay left her and her daughters sleeping on a nursing room floor.
Calgary drivers might be asking why the price of gasoline is more expensive in their energy rich province where oil is refined and extracted than in Ontario, but one retail expert claims to have the answer.
Police are investigating after receiving reports of shots fired late Wednesday afternoon in Bankview.
Blackfalds RCMP were called to the scene of a serious hit and run collision Wednesday evening.
WATCH LIVE @ 9 A.M.
WATCH LIVE @ 9 A.M. | With another COVID climb, Quebec health minister calls news conference for Thursday morning
With COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations on the rise in Quebec, public health officials have called a news conference for Thursday morning.
'Not a time when Quebec can afford to lose young doctors,' province's opposition leader says of ER exodus
The leader of Quebec's Liberal Party paused her vacation briefly on Wednesday to react to the news that two young emergency room doctors have quit their jobs in their hometown of Montreal to work in Toronto.
A prominent Montreal drag queen who recently faced pressure from critics over library readings to young children says her storytime events scheduled for the fall were abruptly called off for unknown reasons.
NEW THIS MORNING
NEW THIS MORNING | Bluesfest is back today after two years of COVID-19 cancellations
Fans will be packing into the grounds at LeBreton Flats tonight for the first in-person Bluesfest since 2019.
An Ottawa senior citizen says he lost his life savings after investing with a real estate development firm that has been charged with fraud.
Ottawa police are on the scene of a shooting that injured one person in the city's west end.
A person has been taken to hospital with serious injuries following a shooting in Halifax Wednesday night.
Halifax Regional Police and fire crews are investigating after receiving reports of a missing swimmer in Dartmouth.
The ex-boyfriend of Cassidy Bernard has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for manslaughter and a consecutive three years for child abandonment in connection with the young mother's death.
Police said a stabbing was reported Wednesday night near the University of Waterloo.
Once again due to staff shortages, the emergency departments at both Listowel and Wingham hospitals will be closed overal several upcoming dates.
Break-ins targeting restaurants, salons, dress shops and cannabis stores have been reported in Kitchener, Waterloo and Woolwich.
Someone in British Columbia could be sitting on a lottery ticket worth a whopping $15 million – but there's only a few weeks left to claim the jackpot.
For the second consecutive day, emergency resolutions related to a conflict between the Assembly of First Nations National Chief and the organization's executive council threw the agenda into chaos.
The large logs that have lined the water’s edge at many Vancouver beaches have been a favourite lounging spot for sun worshipers for over 50 years.
Investigators say a man was lying in the roadway when he was struck and killed by a vehicle near Courtenay, B.C., on Wednesday.
The driver of a logging truck was airlifted to hospital in Victoria after he was pinned inside the vehicle following a rollover crash on Wednesday morning.
The number of Vancouver Island marmots in the wild increased this week, with 10 of the critically endangered rodents released onto a Mount Washington ski run.