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

Just Posted

Four air ambulance flights out of Terrace delayed or cancelled

Pandemic precautions caused nighttime closure of service station providing weather data to pilots

Skeena Resources, Tahltan prez excited by purchase of Eskay Creek

Skeena gets full control of mine, Barrick gets 12 per cent of Skeena and a one per cent royalty

UPDATE: missing 12-year-old Terrace boy found safe

Was reported missing on Southside around 10 p.m. July 9

Terrace conservation officers relocate Spirit bear

Bear roamed Kitsumkalum Valley north of Terrace for many years

Seabridge Gold starts drilling along proposed tunnel route north of Stewart

Twin tunnels will connect the KSM mine to its mill and tailings site

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

Northern B.C. First Nations call for reversal of grizzly bear hunting ban

Growing grizzly populations have led to fewer ungulates and increased fear of attacks says Chad Day

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

NHL’s Canadian hubs offer little economic benefit, but morale boost is valuable: experts

Games are slated to start Aug. 1 with six Canadian teams qualifying for the 24-team resumption of play

‘Made in the Cowichan Valley’ coming to a wine bottle near you

Cowichan Valley has the honour of being the first sub-GI outside of the Okanagan

Most Read