All Nations Driving Academy founder Lucy Sager (left) and the Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training Melanie Mark after the $360,000 funding announcement in Terrace Aug. 15. (Brittany Gervais/Terrace Standard)

All Nations Driving Academy gets $360K boost from province

Terrace-based driving school bridges gap in services for remote northwest B.C. communities

The provincial government announced an additional $360,000 for the All Nations Driving Academy, a Terrace-based driving school aimed at increasing access for remote First Nation communities.

Melanie Mark, the minister of advanced education, skills and training, was in Terrace Aug. 15 to make the announcement with the school’s founder, Lucy Sager, Kitsumkalum chief Don Roberts, Kitselas councillor Cyril Nabess-Bennett, and others. The money is from the province’s $30 million Indigenous Skills and Training Development Fund.

“At the First Nations Leadership Gathering, all of the chiefs talked about driving being a huge issue, a huge barrier to their communities. Every single chief said, ‘Our members can’t get to their medical appointments. They can’t go to school, they can’t get a job, they can’t hunt and fish because of barriers like driver training,” Mark says. “We have to do everything we can to reduce those barriers.”

READ MORE: Terrace dominates ThriveNorth Business Challenge

Sager started the All Nations Driving Academy after similarly realizing transportation can be a difficult issue in remote communities, especially when there are vast distances separating residents from services like driving schools. A majority of the thousands of new trades jobs expected in the region over the coming years will require applicants to have a driver’s licence.

“This allows us to keep going. When people don’t have a job, they don’t have funding for driver training, they’re just stuck in this perpetual cycle. It’s just fantastic that [the ministry] sees the value here,” Sager says. “I think we’re just getting started.”

The All Nations Driving Academy provides driver training and evaluation. The driving instructors are licensed through ICBC under the Motor Vehicle Act and are certified to teach in the classroom and in the car. The program works by sending instructors to meet with students for training before they go into a larger centre and take the test.

In January, LNG Canada gave an initial $80,000 to engage 200 people from 13 First Nation communities across six towns. The additional funding from province means another 800 people will have access to the program.

“The demand has been overwhelming. In Indigenous communities, what we’ve seen especially along Highway 16 is only about five to 45 per cent of people actually have a licence — which means up to 95 per cent of people don’t have a licence,” Sager says. “It’s not about just going to work. It’s about safety. Not only is it about the Highway of Tears, it’s about fleeing forest fires. When people can’t drive, they can’t leave.”

All Nations Driving Academy has received a number of awards since it began, including recognition from the Skeena-Nass Centre for Innovation in Resource Economics (SNCIRE), and ThriveNorth Business Challenge.

The academy also encourages communities to own and operate their own driving schools. The Haisla Driving School in Kitimat was opened with help from the program, and Sager says the academy is working with Burns Lake Native Development Corporation to open a school there.


 


brittany@terracestandard.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

City of TerraceDrivingFirst Nationskitimat

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Breast cancer screening available in Prince Rupert – ten days only

Mobile imaging suite will be in Prince Rupert from July 6 to 16

RCSCC 7 – Captain Cook is searching for new C.O.

Officer position will be vacant with CIC sailing away to different shores.

Police investigate July 2 homicide in Houston

Man succumbed to injuries at Pearson Road residence

Solidarity movement displayed in city

Prince Rupert locals demonstrated against

Canada Day investigation by RCMP

Female was transported to hospital with head injuries in Prince Rupert

VIDEO: Musqueam Chief captures captivating footage of bald eagle catching meal

‘This is why we have chosen to live here since time immemorial,’ Chief Wayne Sparrow’s nephew says

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Liberal party finished 2019 having spent $43 million, raised $42 million

All political parties had until midnight June 30 to submit their financial reports for last year

B.C. teacher loses licence after sexual relationships with two recently-graduated students

The teacher won’t be allowed to apply for a teaching certificate until 2035

Most Read