Each year, the national not-for-profit foundation honours outstanding Canadian women who have made a significant contribution in their field and who continue to lay the groundwork for other women to enter or excel in these industries.
The 2015 winners are:
- Pioneer Award - Dawn Bartsch, has had her commercial license since the 1950’s and is endorsed for night flying, instrument flying, sea planes and instructors rating; flew around the world trips to Russia, Vietnam, South America in 1996 and won a bronze medal for the 1997 World Air Games long distance race. Also participated in the London to Sydney event, then crossing the Pacific to Hawaii and home.
- Flight Operations/Maintenance Award – Judy Cameron, the first 777 Captain in Canada and the first female pilot hired by Air Canada, Canada’s largest airline, on April 10, 1978 at the age of 23; the first woman to graduate from Selkirk College’s Aviation Technology Program in 1975.
- Government/Military Award – Sgt. Andreena Clifford, Aerospace Control Operator for the Royal Canadian Air Force and a veteran of the aerial campaign over Afghanistan flying aboard the Airborne Warning and Control Systems aircraft (AWACS); providing tactical air picture for Operation Impact and numerous other domestic operations.
- Business Award – Tracy Medve, current Chair of the Air Transportation Canada (ATAC) and the President of KF Aerospace, a multi-faceted maintenance, cargo, military flight training and aircraft leasing organization headquartered in Kelowna, B.C. Was formerly President of Canadian North Airlines.
- Education Award – Jill Oakes, Doctor at the University of Manitoba studying the relationships between people and the environment, and teaches aviation geography. Published more than 100 publications, and ishe is helping women get their pilot’s license on the donated Cessna 150.
- Rising Star Award 1 – Claire Lemiski, commercial pilot and active member of the 1st Canadian Chapter of Ninety-Nines and Women in Aviation’s Upper Canada Chapter; also pilot for the dehavilland Employee flying club at Downsview and playing a leadership role with the Montreal Ninety-Nines.
- Rising Star Award 2 – Erin Grant, Lieutenant in the RCAF Reserves and a Glider Standards Pilot; Class IV Instructor at Seneca; flies Dash-8’s and successful female Seneca Jazz Cadet. Currently working towards her ATPL.
“It was a rewarding experience to go over all the nominations we received. There were many deserving candidates, ” says Anna Pangrazzi, President and Director of Sales for The Northern Lights Awards Foundation. “We are proud of this year’s winners who demonstrate the courage and determination to succeed in their careers and in the community, and who are also considered role models with the intent of inspiring and motivating other young women to take up careers in aviation and aerospace.”
The Foundation's award program, called the Elsie MacGill Northern Lights (EMNL) Awards, is named after aviation pioneer and human rights advocate Elsie Gregory MacGill. The world's first female aircraft designer, MacGill graduated from the University of Toronto's electrical engineering program in 1927 and later became pivotal in the design and production of the Hawker Hurricane in Canada during the Second World War. During her career, MacGill was appointed to the Canadian Royal Commission on the Status of Women, and was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.