The Honour of a Lifetime

WestJet
By WestJet | | 3 min read

WestJet President and Chief Executive Officer Ed Sims was recently honoured by Treaty 6 and 7 Elders with a Feather Hat ceremony in recognition of his efforts to drive closer relationships between the airline and First Nations people.

Hosted at WestJet’s Campus, Ed was bestowed with the highest honour of the Northern Plains Culture when presented with his personal Feather Hat.

The presentation was celebrated through ceremony that included songs and drumming by the Black Otter group from the Blood Tribe. Chief Clarence Wolfleg from Siksika Nation, a Canadian Armed Forces veteran, conducted the ceremony.  Leaders and speakers holding the ceremony included: Chief Leonard Standing on the Road, Treaty 6 Territory; Hal Eagletail, a Tsuut’ina Minor Chief and Government Relations Advisor at Natural Law Energy; Travis Meguinis, the CEO of Natural Law Energy; and Mike Lickers a Mohawk and Canadian Armed Forces peacetime veteran. The ceremony signified the impact and legacy Ed will leave behind in his retirement from WestJet.

Feather Hat on floor at campus
Ed Sims speaking with Feather Hat

Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO

“I have been given the honour of a lifetime and it is with huge respect and friendship that I accept on behalf of the people of WestJet,” said Sims. “WestJet cares deeply about truth, reconciliation and the recognition that we are one people. This feather hat will be displayed at our headquarters to be celebrated and respected by past, present and future WestJetters."

Having spent the majority of his adult life in New Zealand, a country with great pride in its integrated culture with Maori Ora, Ed has always had great respect for Indigenous history and culture. Upon arrival to Calgary in 2017, he was inspired to understand Canada’s Indigenous history and made the airline’s initial connection with Chief Perry Bellegarde, igniting meaningful talks and actions between WestJet and the people of Alberta’s Treaty 7. 

With a focus on connecting and educating WestJetters, Ed has been instrumental in strengthening WestJet’s relationship with ITAC and Indigenous leaders through the signing of the airline’s strategic national partnership with the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada. Ed’s authentic commitment and passion also led to the ceremonial blessing of WestJet’s 787 Hangar, the airline’s first Boeing 787 Dreamliner and a celebration to showcase Canada’s Indigenous tourism in London, UK, alongside Alberta’s Treaty 7 Chiefs on WestJet’s inaugural flight to London, Gatwick from Calgary. Ed was also bestowed the honour by Chief Crowchild of leading a Tsuut'ina Nation powwow in 2019.

“It is critically important for us to understand where we come from and whose land we are on. It has been a privilege to have learned so much from the People of Treaties 6 and 7 during my time in Alberta,” continued Sims.  “WestJet is committed  to better understanding our ancestry and our own cultural journeys and I am forever grateful for the relationships I have built during my time leading this airline.”

Ed Sims with Treaty 6 and 7 Elders

Hal Eagletail, Chief Leonard Standing on The Road, Chief Clarence Wolfleg, Ed Sims, Travis Meguinis