Honouring Walter Peters

MILESTONE MOMENT: We celebrate the life and achievements of Walter ‘Wally’ Peters, a true aviation pioneer. Born in Litchfield, Nova Scotia and raised in Saint John, New Brunswick, he dedicated his life to breaking down barriers and achieving greatness.

After graduating from Mount Allison University, Peters enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force and earned the highest flying marks in his graduating class. He became the first Canadian-born Black jet fighter pilot in the RCAF, inspiring generations of aspiring aviators.

Peters served as the first human rights officer in the Canadian Armed Forces and passed on his knowledge to future generations by serving as a flying instructor. His expertise extended beyond Canada’s borders by advising the United Nations Security Council on the tactical movement of troops by air and training NATO fighter pilots.

In the early 1970s, Peters played a pivotal role in organizing the world-renowned Snowbirds air demonstration squadron, dazzled audiences worldwide by flying the iconic CT 114 Tutor jet and leaving an indelible mark on aviation history.

After a distinguished career, Peters retired from the RCAF as a Major in 1984, he helped establish the Canadian Aviation Safety Board at Transport Canada, where he developed and implemented crucial safety programs for aviation.

Peters continued his fight for justice and equality by becoming the first president of the New Brunswick Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, dedicating himself to breaking down barriers and creating opportunities for marginalized communities.

In a Veterans Affairs Canada Heroes Remember video, Peters shared his experiences of barracks life, pilot selection training, his first solo flight, and the prejudice he endured. His story inspires us to push boundaries, dream big, and break down barriers. We remember and celebrate this true trailblazer of the skies.

“You don’t have to accept me, but you do have to respect me.”

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Photo Credit: NB Black History Society Files