Winnipeg School Division students kick off I Love to Read month with Indigenous pilot Kimberly BallantyneFebruary 1, 2024 News Story
Almost 200 Grade 3 students from across Winnipeg School Division (WSD) gathered today to kick off the “I Love to Read” month. Kimberly Ballantyne, the first Indigenous female to achieve her private pilot license from her community, Opaskwayak Cree Nation in Manitoba, joined them.
With the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada as a fitting backdrop, Ballantyne read to WSD students from the book Freddie The Flyer, written by Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail and Fred Carmichael and illustrated by Audrea Loreen-Wulf. The picture book pays homage to aviator Freddie Carmichael, the first Indigenous commercial pilot in the Arctic.
“My favourite place to go in my community when I was younger was the library,” says Ballantyne. “For any aspiring aviator, read and study hard during ground school, and you’ll be on your way to becoming a pilot.”
Like Freddie, Ballatyne is inspiring countless people on her journey. She has documented her entire private pilot license journey on her social media pages and is currently training for her commercial pilot license with Harv’s Air Flight Training. She is currently the Community Engagement Specialist with Calm Air International LP, a company which plans to have her on the flight line for summer 2024 as one of its commercial pilots.
After listening to the book, students also had an opportunity to meet Kimberly and ask her questions about aeroplanes, how she became a pilot, and what she had learned.
Tec Voc High School volunteer students then escorted students to all the exhibits at the Royal Aviation Museum and, along with Museum volunteers, explained the different types of planes and what they were meant for.
"The I Love to Read event was amazing; I love reading and had lots of fun listening to the pilot's story,” said Aislynn Gray, a Grade 3 student at George V School.
“After visiting the Museum, I felt like aeroplanes are much more interesting than I thought,the rescue plane was my favourite as it saved so many lives."
“Learning to read is a life-long pursuit and one we are committed to nurturing in all our learners and staff in WSD,” says Matt Henderson, Superintendent and CEO, Winnipeg School Division.
“Reading is a gift that the universe has given to our species. To read means to imagine different worlds. To read means understanding another person’s plight. To read means we can ask significant questions about what it means to be human.”