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

Just Posted

What you need to know to vote in Canada’s federal election

Voting guide for Terrace, Kitimat up to Telegraph Creek

B.C. seniors advocate touring Northwest B.C.

Seniors advocate Isobel Mackenzie will be visiting Terrace, Kitimat and New Aiyansh Oct.15-17

Industrial development prompts call for highway improvements

Truck traffic to increase at Kitsumkalum project

Countdown begins for 11th annual Guns and Hoses game

Firefighters and police sharpen their skates to fundraise for youth program

VIDEO: Langley woman’s security camera records its own theft

Langley family discovers early morning grab was recorded

Canadian Snowbirds plane crashes before air show in Atlanta

Pilot lands safely after ejecting from jet

Share crash data, private insurers tell David Eby, ICBC

B.C. monopoly makes drivers retrieve their own records

B.C. VIEWS: Wolf kill, not backcountry bans, saving caribou

B.C.’s largest herds turn the corner from extinction

Pearson nets shootout winner as Canucks clip Flyers 3-2

Vancouver picks up second straight home win

Map on Elections Canada website sends Nanaimo-Ladysmith voters to landfill

Address for polling station correct, but Google Map address differs

BC Children’s Hospital launches 2 new virtual care sites bringing total to 19 across province

Provincial initiative allows pediatric patients to see health specialists through video

‘Wham-bam out the door’: Surrey man’s front yard left ruined by scamming landscaper

Resident warns neighbours to be careful of door-to-door salesmen

Most Read