Learning to drive on the North Island will be easier with the creation an Indigenous-owned driving school.
The ‘Namgis First Nation Driving School is being made possible through $25,000 from Island Coastal Economic Trust’s Capital Innovation Program. The total budget is $150,000.
The school will be available to all North Island residents and will be modelled on the All Nations Driving Academy, developed in Kitamaat with the Haisla First Nation and Burns Lake Development Corporation.
The trust says the new school will play an important role in unlocking significant economic opportunities. Board chair Jean La Rose says more training opportunities will open up employment.
“Indigenous people in B.C. are considerably less likely than other British Columbians to possess a driver’s licence, which has significant negative consequences for health, justice, employment, and public safety,” said La Rose.
Island Coastal Economic Trust adds more licenced drivers will help meet Indigenous employment targets on major projects. They say a driver’s licence is a crucial mobility enabler in rural communities, allowing access to employment, health services and social connection.
‘Namgis Economic Development Corporation CEO Kevin Ainsworth says Indigenous culture and social circumstances will be incorporated into driver training.
“This innovative approach is going to have life-changing impacts within the ‘Namgis Nation and other First Nations on the North Island, and we’ll also be creating positive economic impacts for the entire North Island region,” said Ainsworth.
The school is expected to start accepting students in January.