Terrace Standard, Terrace, B.C. posted Nov 6, 2016  

The Kermode Friendship Society is starting its own driving school which is aimed at helping people find work.  "That’s going to happen by the society teaching people to drive a larger pickup truck instead of a smaller vehicle," says society executive director Cal Albright. 

 “Up here for work, people drive trucks so if we can teach people to handle a pickup, that might give them a competitive edge,” he said. Not having a driver’s licence is a significant barrier to employment prospects, which can be tough even for people who do have a licence, noted Albright.“What we want to do is eliminate that barrier,” he said.

There will be 12 in the first group taking the course, and they will go through a classroom-based curriculum as well as actual driving to ready themselves for provincial licensing exams and road tests. “We’ll be with them every step of the way,” said Albright of the program, which does require students to pay tuition. “Some people have also have challenges with numeracy and literacy so we’ll be teaching essential skills for those who need it.” The advantage for a student learning to drive with an accredited school is a shorter period of time to achieve full licence status, Albright added. “And we’re also going to teach them how to change a tire,” he said.

Albright defines the school as a social enterprise in that it brings a business approach to something which can lead to improvements for people. If all goes well, the Kermode driving school will be up and running by April 1 of next year. Its curriculum, taught by a certified instructor, begins with the work needed to obtain a learner’s licence and then taking a student through the complete graduated licensing program.

The program received a large boost through the donation by the Allteck power line company of a Ford F-250 pickup. Albright said he struck up a conversation with an Allteck official at an event and was quickly told the company would be able to help out. The truck and school were blessed Nov. 4 at a ceremony held at the friendship society’s Kalum St. offices.

“This is a ceremony for a safe journey,” said Kermode Friendship Centre employee Louisa Gray while she and Moses Stewart, a member of the society’s elders group, prepared a smudge pot containing various herbs including sweetgrass, sage and devil’s club. Those in attendance, including Terrace mayor Carole Leclerc, first wafted the smoke over themselves before Gray and Stewart used a feather to waft the smoke through the interior and exterior of the vehicle.

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