Article: Little Ann Big Eyes

  • Image of Ann Weetaltuk, first Inuit flight attendant in Canada

    October, 1958, Aircraft & Airport

    TransAir Ltd. promulgated a unique claim to fame recently when it became the first airline in the world to employ an Inuit stewardess.

    Anniapik Weetaltuk (more lyrically known to her own people as “Little Ann Big Eyes”) is a petite girl of 23 who speaks four languages; English, French, Cree, and of course, Inuktitut. She is now at work on regular TransAir Mainline DC-3 flights between Winnipeg, Flin Flon, and Lynn Lake, Winnipeg-Churchill-Montreal, and Winnipeg to Red Lake.

    Ann Weetaltuk was born on Cape Hope Island where her parents, two brothers, and three sisters still live. The island’s population is comprised of three related Inuit families and is nicknamed ‘Weetaltuk Island’.

    Miss Weetaltuk attended school operated by the Oblate Fathers and Grey Nuns at Fort George and after completing her education there, lived at Rupert House, and Moosonee. In 1951, she went to Hamilton for a nursing course at the Hamilton Sanitarium, where she received a diploma as a certified nursing assistant. She remained at the sanitarium for two years after completing her course. More recently she has engaged in nursing work at the Ottawa Civic Hospital, The Bell Telephone Hospital at Great Whale, and at Montreal General Hospital.

    In 1957, Ann served three months aboard the DoT ice breaker “C. D. Howe” as a nurse and as registrar for the Department of Northern Affairs.

    In announcing Miss Weetaltuk’s appointment as a stewardess, J. G. Twist, manager of TransAir’s Mainline Division said, “Miss Weetaltuk’s charm, friendliness and training makes her an ideal choice to serve as an airline stewardess and we are confident she will fulfill her duties in a manner that will reflect credit on herself and the company.”

    Image of Ann Weetaltuk, first Inuit flight attendant in Canada

    This article originally appeared in the October, 1958 edition of Aircraft & Airport magazine.

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