He can fiddle. He can jig. He can cook. He can sing. But what makes Boyd Wesley Benjamin truly extraordinary is he can fly.
When Boyd was a young boy, he would watch planes taking off and landing from his bedroom window in Old Crow, Yukon. He dreamed of one day piloting his own plane, flying over his town and looking down at his childhood home from the sky.
After graduating high school, Boyd began his journey into aviation by working as a ramp attendant for Air North Airlines. While marshaling and refueling aircrafts and handling baggage and cargo, Boyd managed to complete his first training flight and then, within five weeks, he completed his private pilot license.
As his dream was becoming a reality, Boyd began applying to aviation schools and seeking funding from his band. There was no precedent or policy in place for this type of training, so Boyd had to work closely with the band office, as they learned, together, how to sponsor a First Nations student for Pilot Training.
Their efforts paid off. In 2001, Boyd was the first member of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation to be accepted into the First Nation Technical Institute in Deseronto, Ontario to train as a pilot.
After a successful year of pilot training, Boyd received a scholarship to the renowned aviation program at Mount Royal College. With his aviation diploma in hand, he returned to Whitehorse to train as a flight attendant with Air North, and then furthered his piloting skills with a commercial helicopter pilot license.
Despite a hectic schedule in the air, and on the ground, Boyd continues to travel to communities to share his inspirational message. When talking about getting through the difficult times, he says, “I didn’t want to be left behind. I wanted to have the same opportunity as everybody else. I wanted to be that person who accomplished something almost unimaginable. I thought about my family and I didn’t want to let them down. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel….and that made it worth every minute of hardship.”