Air Inuit's first female Inuk captain, Melissa Haney, was honoured for her career accomplishments with a commemorative stamp put out by the Canadian Ninety-Nines.

The organization, which promotes women in aviation, released the stamp on August 15, on the one-year anniversary of Haney becoming a captain.

An launch event was held Tuesday in Montreal at the Air Inuit facility. Quebec's Minister for Native Affairs Geoffrey Kelley spoke at the event and throat singers performed. The Canadian 99's visited Inukjuak, Que., on Friday as part of the launch. 

Melissa Haney cake

The stamp was officially launched at the Air Inuit facility in Montreal on August 15. (Canadian 99's)

Haney is from Inukjuak and said she grew up around planes because Northern communities are often only accessible by air.

She grew up using planes as an ordinary means of transportation for medical and dental appointments and to go on vacation. 

She has been a pilot with Air Inuit for 15 years, before that she was flight attendant, starting her career in flight in 2001.

She flies a Dash 8 Combi-300, which can carry 45 passengers and 4,000 pounds of cargo. She often makes tight landings on runways just longer than the necessary minimum.

Marilyn Dickson, a spokesperson for the Canadian 99's, said Haney was chosen because she is a great role model for youth, and has demonstrated the importance of working hard toward one's goals.

Melissa Haney

Melissa Haney greeted by 300 people at the airport in her hometown in northern Quebec last year to celebrate her becoming Air Inuit's first female captain. (Caroline Oweetaluktuk)

 

"If you believe in something and you are doing something that you love, you can go very far," Haney said.

Haney said her past year as a captain has been her most memorable time as a pilot, but her most memorable flight was flying passengers from Salluit Que., to an inland camp when the weather forced her to land on an old runway. 

"By some luck, some passengers had a cabin nearby. They also had an all-terrain vehicle on board. Some people travelled to the cabin and started a fire, while others went hunting and brought back a caribou. Once the weather cleared, Melissa flew the group back to Salluit," Canadian 99's biography of Haney reads. 

Dickson said she hopes people who use the stamp will include Haney's biographical insert in the letter they are mailing to help promote women in aviation. 

The stamp is part of the Canadian 99's 'Canadian Women Aviatrix Stamp' collection. A sheet of 50 stamps costs $80. They are not available at Canada Post, but can be used to send a letter. 

With files from Toby Otak