The ‘Namgis Development Business Corporation says it’s developing an Indigenous community-owned driving school available to all North Island residents, particularly those living in rural areas.
The Island Coastal Economic Trust (ICET) says the ‘Namgis First Nation Driving School, set to open next year, will incorporate training adapted to the unique circumstances of Indigenous people and serve those in the Triport area and beyond, including the ‘Namgis Nation and other First Nations.
According to the ICET, the school comes at a time when having a driver’s license is a “crucial enabler of mobility and social connection,” allowing access to employment, education, health services, and more.
“Indigenous people in B.C. are considerably less likely than other British Columbians to possess a driver’s license, which has significant negative consequences for health, justice, employment, and public safety,” said Jean La Rose, ‘Namgis Economic Development Corporation board chair.
“Access to driving training and skill development will open up a wealth of employment and training opportunities for North Island Indigenous communities,” La Rose said.
The ICET says the new school will play an important role in unlocking “significant economic opportunities,” particularly among youth and women. It’s modelled after the successful All Nations Driving Academy, which was developed by Lucy Sager in Kitamaat.
Aaron Stone, board chair of the ICET, says the school will ultimately increase the number of licensed Indigenous drivers, helping to achieve Indigenous employment targets on major projects.
“By enabling employment and educational opportunities, social connection and mobility, the driving school becomes an innovative and unique model to drive forward economic opportunity,” Stone said.
The Innovation Support stream of the ICET’s Capital and Innovation Program is helping fund the new driving school, contributing $25,000 to a total project budget of $150,000.
The ICET says the school is expected to start accepting applications in January 2023.