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Career in aviation hard to land for Northern youth

Eric Anoee Jr. is one proud dad when it comes to the career choice of his son, Nangmalik, who left Arviat to begin his college studies earlier this month.

Nangmalik, 18, is enrolled in the three-year aviation management program at Georgian College in Barrie, Ont., taking his first steps to becoming a pilot.

Eric Anoee Jr. of Arviat, right, takes his son, Nangmalik, on a helicopter tour over Toronto before dropping him off at Georgian College colllege to pursue his dream of becoming a pilot in September. Photo courtesy of Eric Anoee Jr.

Georgian College is a college of applied arts and technology, which has 13,000 full-time students on seven different campuses, the largest of which is in Barrie.

Eric said he noticed his son was becoming more-and-more serious about becoming a pilot when he began to start his high school years.

But at first, he wasn’t totally convinced Nangmalik was really serious about becoming a pilot because, like most youth, he just wanted to enjoy being a kid and leave tough decisions like career choices for later in life.

“I began to realize he was getting more serious about his career choice as his years in senior high were going by,” said Eric.

“It took me a long time to research a career as a pilot because we have nothing like aviation schools or real exposure to any part of that industry up here.

“As a parent, I felt I needed to find out as much as I could about what he truly wanted to do.”

Eric said being closer to home than a number of similar schools probably played a significant role in why Nangmalik choose Georgian College.

He said he supports whatever choice his son makes and would never want to be seen as a father forcing a career on his child.

“We all have hope and expectations for our kids but I just want to be there for my son and offer him any support I’m able to,” he said.

“I don’t have any real concerns over the dangers that can come as a pilot, but I am finding out it’s certainly not an easy career to get into unless you have a lot of money.

“The way the industry trains pilots, it’s very expensive to attend a specialized place to gain your license.

“The college route seems to be the most cost-effective way. One can get funded by the government to go through the college system and that helps a great deal.”

Eric said it’s, ultimately, up to his son if he wants to become a Northern pilot like Jeremy Maley of Rankin Inlet, or if he prefers to try a more southern location.

He said Maley became a real eye-opener for a lot of kids in Nunavut.

“Jeremy’s from up here and he’s still quite young. When a lot of kids first heard about him, they realized maybe they could accomplish the same thing if they try to do it.

“He’s proof it can be done.”

When Eric left his son at Georgian College earlier this month, he left him with encouragement and a few words of wisdom.

He told Nangmalik to try his best and, seeing how much he wants this, give it a fair chance and don’t give up when he hits his first hardships.

“I told him it will get easier with time.

“I know homesickness will get to him, but I reminded him this was his choice and years ago people didn’t have a choice.

“They were forced to do this or that, and move to settlements and such, but kids today have a choice and he has to try his best to complete his studies.

“The reality of it is that any youth up here who wants to pursue a career in aviation will have to go quite far away from home to pursue that goal.”