Game on! Cat Lake First Nation receives 2 dozen bags of hockey gear

From CBC News 🔗 link to source story

Equipment was donated by teams in southern Ontario so First Nations players can hit the ice

CBC News • April 08, 2022

NorthStar President and COO Jeff Stout and Mikinakoos Children’s Fund Executive Director Emily Shandruk load the donated hockey equipment onto North Star Air to transport to Cat Lake First Nation. (North Star Air)

Hockey players in Cat Lake First Nations in northwestern Ontario have some sweet new hockey gear with the help of donations from players in the south. 

Mikinaakoos Children’s Fund and WestJet teamed up to donate around 25 bags of equipment to the community, with the help of North Star Air.

Clifford Comber is the manager of Materials Eastern Canada at WestJet, and is originally from Thunder Bay, Ont.

Comber said it all started when his own children outgrew their hockey equipment and he was trying to get it back to Thunder Bay or northern Ontario for Indigenous youth to use.

Comber said it originally started out with two bags of equipment, but when he reached out to the teams he’s involved with in Oakville and Milton it grew to around 25 bags of equipment in three days.

“To be honest… My original plan was just to fly it up to Thunder Bay on WestJet and get some family members to drive it up north,” said Comber.

“So when we had 25 bags of equipment … I needed help,” said Comber.

Comber reached out to WestJet and asked if they could help him get it to Thunder Bay for him and he would take care of getting it to youth. The airline then reached out to their contact and came together to get the gear to youth up north.

Clifford Comber helped donate 25 bags of hockey equipment to Cat Lake First Nation. It all started when he wanted to donate his children’s equipment to youth in the north. (Submitted by Clifford Comber)

Jeff Stout is the President and COO of North Star Air, and is also a board member for Mikinakoos Children’s Fund. He says he had a conversation with WestJet about where the equipment can be used, and thought about Mikinakoos right away.

Stout said it turned out at that time, they were working with the Kam River Fighting Walleye on a hockey program in Cat Lake, and it seemed like a natural fit for the equipment.

“We’re able to blend in and synergize those three parties to create a good, a real good, story in supporting the North. And it’s been such a tough two years for everyone,” said Stout.

North Star Air and Mikinakoos have teamed up on other projects before, and Stout said it’s the least they can do for communities in the north.

“We understand our role as a community leader and the need to give back and support community based initiatives when we can,” said Stout.

Comber is proud of how people came together to help out Indigenous youth, and plans to do it all again next year with more time and planning going into it. He hopes to surpass the 25 bags they’ve received this year.

“There’s so many positives that come out of sports and teamwork that, for me, that’s the most fulfilling part I think is just that I’m able to help and give our people a voice,” said Comber.

Mid-Canada Mod Center Completes Another North Star Air ATR 72 Flight Deck Upgrade

Modernization enables flight in Canada Northern Domestic Airspace and strengthens carrier’s market position

TORONTO — 5 January 2022 — Mid-Canada Mod Center (MC2) has completed a flight deck upgrade on another of Thunder Bay, Canada-based, North Star Air’s (NSA) ATR 72 aircraft. These essential modifications enable Canadian Northern Domestic Airspace operations while strengthening the carrier’s market position and customer satisfaction.

Upgrades to North Star Air's ATR-72 Flight Deck

“Airlines like North Star Air operate in extremely challenging conditions and must meet additional requirements to fly in Canada’s remote, northern and polar regions,” said Bill Arsenault, president of Mid-Canada Mod Center. “With ADS, our engineering and design partner, we have developed unique skills and expertise to solve avionics problems permitting these airlines to fly these routes. We are pleased to contribute to North Star Air’s continued growth and expansion through vital flight deck upgrades to this newly reconfigured cargo ATR 72.”

With Universal Avionics’ UNS-1Lw Flight Management Systems (FMS) installed, North Star Air gains RNAV Localizer Performance with Vertical Guidance (LPV) approach capability, permitting landings at challenging airports. RNAV LPV Level of Service (LOS) approach procedure development in Canada continues to grow, driven by individual operators’ recognizance of competitive advantage through investment in technology. True north-based course procedures and gravel runways are included in the database. The new FMSs have the ability to do cold temperature altitude correction (TEMP COMP) for all segments of an approach – transition, intermediate, final, and missed. MC2’s Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) fits Multifunction Control Display Units that maintain access to the ATR Centralized Maintenance System.

Dual Sagem F227 APIRS Attitude and Heading Reference Systems (AHRS) and a Latitude S200 SkyNode Installation were also fitted to MC2  STCs. These high-reliability AHRS systems, coupled with a lower heading drift characteristic, provide a path for operators to obtain approval for flight into Northern Domestic Airspace. SkyNode provides satellite voice and tracking information through the Latitude data network.

“With our current phase of rapid growth and expansion and building our cargo fleet, we are actively working to increase our operational efficiency,” said Sean Fillion, director of maintenance at North Star Air. “These latest upgrades to our ATR 72 are an important part of this effort, and we are pleased with the solution Mid-Canada Mod Center recommended and delivered. We trust MC2’s avionics knowledge, expertise and service excellence.”

About North Star Air
North Star Air is a rapidly growing airline with over 280+ dedicated employees providing passenger, charter, cargo and fuel air service in a safe and reliable environment. We service over 54 remote Northern Ontario, Northern Manitoba and Nunavut locations with a fleet of 18 aircraft, including Pilatus PC-12, Dash 8-100, Basler DC3T and ATR-72-500F. With 50+ departures daily, we fly over 24,000 hours per year, holding a Gold ARGUS status. We are the recipient of the 2019 Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce Large Business Excellence Award and the 2019 NOBA Company of the Year Award.

We are a 703, 704, 705 Operator based in Thunder Bay, ON, with additional base locations in Kapuskasing, Pickle Lake, Red Lake, Sioux Lookout (all in Ontario) and Thompson, MB. Learn more about us at

About Mid-Canada Mod Center
At MC2 (AMO # 59-97), we help extend the operational lifespan of business, commercial, government and military, special mission and rotary-wing aircraft, focusing on safety and efficiency. Authorized dealers for all major avionics manufacturers, our comprehensive capabilities include flight deck and cabin avionics-systems design and certification, installation, modification kits, repairs and 24/7 AOG service. We are a Transport Canada CAR 561 approved manufacturer with a far-reaching avionics background. Our specialties include advanced flight displays, ADS-B, NextGen, SBAS FMS with LP/LPV, cabin entertainment and connectivity, including Satcom and Wi-Fi applications. With ADS, our engineering, design and certification partner, we offer fully integrated services to a broad range of turbofan business aircraft, legacy Boeing and other regional aircraft. Our headquarters are at Canada’s Lester B Pearson International Airport (CYYZ), and we have a second facility at Region of Waterloo International Airport (CYKF). Visit to learn more.

TOYS FOR THE NORTH 2021! We Will Deliver Toys This Year!

We invite you to join us in welcoming the Canadian Air Force military aircraft C-17 Globemaster to Thunder Bay this Thursday December 2nd at 1:00pm as we kick off the 2021 RCMP Toys for the North!

Location is Shell Aero Centre, 316 Hector Dougall Way. (Due to COVID restrictions, social distancing and face masks are a must.)

December 1, 2021- Thunder Bay ON – Once again this December, the RCMP, Gardewine Group – Transportation and Logistics and North Star Air will deliver toys to remote First Nations communities this Christmas! Donated new toys, basic needs items and more will be arriving in Thunder Bay via CAF military aircraft C-17 Globemaster this Thursday December 2nd at 1:30 pm ET. “We’re all praying for good weather on the leg to Thunder Bay” says Karen Matson, Marketing & Community Relations at North Star Air, “the general public will be quite impressed to see this aircraft in Thunder Bay, so keep your eyes on the skies!”

North Star Air’s team has been working with the “O” Division Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), participating in the ‘Toys for the North’ charitable drive. The initiative has evolved over the years to include a national network of RCMP, law enforcement, corporate and external partners who collectively contribute to the success of delivering new toys to children in remote Northern communities. North Star Air has been a partner of the Toys for the North campaign for 7 of the 11 past years.

The arrival of the Globemaster in Thunder Bay doesn’t mean the journey to the North is over. The toys, along with other donated goods will be air delivered in the coming weeks to remote northern Ontario First Nations communities via North Star Air’s flight network. “It’s an exciting time, knowing all this hard work will very soon bring smiles to many faces in the North.” continues Matson.

Once the cargo is debarked from the Globemaster in Thunder Bay on Thursday, Gardewine Group – Transportation and Logistics will then move the cargo to their local warehouse where volunteers will sort the goods by age and gender per community the following week. “We’re talking about thousands of toys that need to be sorted so that the next phase can continue as planned.” says Cpl. Stacy Morton of the RCMP. “We’ve targeted four recipient communities this year.”

The goods will then be transported by Gardewine Group – Transportation and Logistics to the North Star Air hangar in Pickle Lake where they will be loaded onto the Basler DC3 aircraft for their remote First Nation destinations. Representatives from North Star Air, the media and our very special guest Santa Claus will bring joy to so many young people of the North thanks to the efforts of the RCMP and the network of donators. You can follow our journey north with Toys for the North and Santa on our North Star Air Facebook page.

More information on Toys for the North

Elevating Safety: North Star Air Opens Rapid Screening Centres

Thursday April 1, 2021, 11:00AM EDT – Thunder Bay, ON North Star Air is the first regional airline in Northwestern Canada to provide, through a third party provider, COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Screening for passengers prior to boarding their flight. This is good news and a game-changer for passengers travelling to remote First Nations communities in Northern Ontario.

Working closely with the First Nations communities served by North Star Air, the support from community leadership was overwhelming. Remote northern communities have been looking for such a program to increase safety amid the on-going fight against the spread of COVID-19. While predeparture screening is not required for domestic travel within Canada, North Star Air understands the importance of providing an additional line of defense to northern remote communities. “We’ve stepped up the layers of protection for the good of the North. Our communities have always been concerned and employing various protocols to minimize the spread of COVID within their communities. This is very much needed “says Chief Harvey Yesno of Eabametoong First Nation. Chief Cornelius Benson of North Caribou First Nation applauds the initiative saying “We are very happy with this initiative that will bring more safety to our community.”

John and Irene Oskineegish of Eabametoong First Nation received their negative COVID-19 test

result prior to boarding their North Star Air flight at the Thunder Bay Airport. After months of discussions with northern communities and various health service providers, the challenge has always been the resources required to administer the screening. A solution was found. Effective this week passengers flying with North Star Air will be required to take the COVID-19 rapid test at the Thunder Bay and Sioux Lookout Airports prior to boarding their flight. The rapid screening, with results in as little as fifteen minutes, will supplement and not replace the mandatory requirements for health questionnaires, temperature checks and facemasks. “This is a critically important program. It’s another layer of protection that we offer our customers, our communities and our staff,” states Jeff Stout, President of North Star Air. As part of the program, the Thunder Bay and Sioux Lookout Airports have provided support by allocating secure locations within their Airports for the screening to take place. While there are costs involved with the screening, North Star Air is offering this service free of charge to all passenger flight customers. North Star Air’s President Stout adds that, “In order to get this program online we understand there are costs that we as an airline will need to absorb, however we are calling on all levels of government to provide financial assistance. This should be a cost neutral service for the customer and the airline. We’re only halfway there today.”

COVID-19 testing rolled out at Sioux Lookout Airport this week!

North Star Air continues to be the leader in providing the utmost in safety when it comes to their passengers, employees and the remote communities they serve. Since the onset of the pandemic, North Star Air has implemented a series of safety measures to help mitigate the spread of the COVID19 virus. These safety measures along with FAQ’s about rapid screening can be found on their website.