Shea and Kerry Chelsea (right) officially opened a Williams Lake location for their Four Winds Driving School Friday with an open house and tours. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Shea and Kerry Chelsea (right) officially opened a Williams Lake location for their Four Winds Driving School Friday with an open house and tours. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

New driving school steers around barriers

The Four Winds Driving School held an open house Friday.

Removing barriers is the main focus of the Aboriginal-owned and operated Four Winds Driving School that now has a permanent home in Williams Lake.

“My background is in life skills and social work,” owner Kerry Chelsea said during the school’s grand opening.

“I’ve run into a lot of community members with learning disabilities, whether it be higher functioning Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) or reading comprehension. I’m not a therapist, but I’ve been able to identify some of their learning disabilities and work with those individuals one-on-one.”

There are many success stories of high-functioning FASD students obtaining their Class Five driver’s licence, Chelsea said.

“It’s been fantastic. Being able to do that has probably been the most rewarding for me.”

The school is located at 77B Second Ave North.

It boasts a classroom and will soon have a state-of-the art driving simulator on site.

Chelsea is a band councillor in his home community of Esket and said he pursued becoming a driving instructor after realizing that many community members did not have a driver’s licence.

“At first Esket hired an instructor out of Prince George, but we only had one successful learner’s permit out of 15 people that had gone through the program,” he recalled. “The cost was about $14,000 and as a band we couldn’t afford that.”

About two and a half years ago, Chelsea approached Chief Charlene Belleau suggesting someone be trained as a driving instructor to teach in the community.

“Chief Charlene smiled and said, ‘you’re going to Victoria to get your instructor licence,’ so that’s how it started,” Chelsea said.

After completing the instructor’s course in Kelowna, he went to Vancouver to obtain his graduated licensing program training and then registered the driving school officially with ICBC.

Initially Chelsea used an old Esketemc band vehicle, in which he installed an instructor brake and mirrors, and worked on a volunteer basis teaching drivers in the community.

When other First Nations bands started hearing about the program, they called Chelsea to come and instruct some of their community members as well.

Eventually he became so busy trying to balance his daytime jobs with the driving instruction on the side, that Shea reeled him in and said he needed to apply for a business license.

“We went ahead and applied for a First Nations federal business grant and once that came back approved — after four or five tries — we picked this location and decided to move forward with it,” Chelsea said.

One of the biggest barriers for First Nations people is access so Four Winds goes into the communities to teach the learner’s program.

“That way a lot of the membership doesn’t have to travel,” Chelsea said.

“To come from Ulkatcho to Williams Lake is a four-hour drive. We bring everything and there’s no excuse for people not to attend because the program is so close to where they live.”

Money can also be a barrier so the school provides the cost of the learner’s program, he added.

As one, if not the only, 100 per cent Aboriginal fully-owned and operated driving schools in B.C, and one of only a few Aboriginal-owned businesses in Williams Lake it’s exciting, Chelsea said.

“I didn’t really think about that until a friend brought that up to me today at our open house.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Fox Mountain Trail Network will undergo a significant machine- and hand-built upgrade thanks to a $253,000 grant from the province’s Rural Economic Recovery program. (Scott Horley photo)
Major Fox Mountain bike trail upgrade project slated to begin this May

A machine-built downhill trail, along with an improved uphill route, are part of the project

Four projects in Williams Lake have received Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program funding. (City of Williams Lake photo)
$1.35 million CERIP funds going to projects in Williams Lake

Mayor Walt Cobb thanked the province for its investment in the community

100 Mile RCMP are looking for Haileigh Archie, 18, who was reported missing from her home near Lone Butte. (Photo submitted)
100 Mile RCMP looking for missing teen Haileigh Archie

Archie was reported missing from her home in Lone Butte area on March 4.

City of Williams Lake considering using remainder of COVID Safe Restart Grant to make up for unpaid taxes. (City of Williams Lake photo)
Williams Lake weighs allocating rest of COVID safe restart grant in capital programs

The $546,205 left of the $2.6 million could make up for $746,874 in outstanding taxes

Chief Joe Alphonse
OP-ED: Williams Lake municipal, regional councils lack awareness on historical trauma

Systemic racism isn’t always obvious to those that are not experiencing it

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

President of the BC Teacher’s Federation (BCTF) Teri Mooring is calling for teachers to be vaccinated for COVID-19 by summer. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Why it’s ‘urgent’ B.C. teachers get vaccinated from COVID-19 before summer

President Teri Mooring says not enough is being done to prevent virus transmission in schools

FILE - In this Jan. 18, 2014, file photo, endangered orcas from the J pod swim in Puget Sound west of Seattle, as seen from a federal research vessel that has been tracking the whales. A new study from federal researchers provides the most detailed look yet at what the Pacific Northwest's endangered orcas eat. Scientists with the NOAA Fisheries Northwest Fisheries Science Center spent years collecting fecal samples from the whales as well as scales from the fish they devoured. They say their data reaffirm the central importance of Chinook salmon to the whales. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
Study reinforces importance of Chinook to Pacific Northwest orcas

Data confirms how central the big salmon are to the orca’s diet year-round

Shiromali Krishnaraj arrives from India and receives a mandatory COVID-19 test at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Monday, Feb. 1, 2021. B.C.’s approved rapid tests also use a nasal swab, with a machine to scan for COVID-19 antibodies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C.’s rapid COVID-19 tests have produced only two positive results

Tests deployed for exposures in schools, outbreaks in care homes, jails

BC Emergency Health Services confirmed that a call was received just before 10 a.m. Ground paramedics, as well as an air ambulance, are on the way to the area. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
BREAKING: Helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

The Nanaimo bar display at the Nanaimo Museum. (City of Nanaimo Instagram)
City of Nanaimo points to correct recipe after New York Times botches batch of bars

City addresses ‘controversy’ around dessert square’s layers

A man holds a picture of Chantel Moore during a healing gathering at the B.C. Legislature in Victoria on June 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. First Nation demands transparency in probe into second fatal RCMP shooting

‘Police have killed more Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation members than COVID’

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

Most Read