About Us


Our Purpose:


To provide an opportunity for people with disabilities to participate in the challenging sport of scuba diving.


According to Statistics Canada, in 2012, 3.8 million Canadians, approximately 13.7% of the population had a mobility disability. This is the client group of Freedom at Depth Canada.


There is currently no other Canadian organization that teaches scuba diving to people living with disabilities in such a safe and professional manner. Freedom at Depth Canada offers a curriculum adapted for people living with various disabilities and has instructors and a training director specializing in diving for people with disabilities, certified by the Handicapped Scuba Association (HSA). Freedom at Depth is the ideal choice for people with disabilities to learn how to scuba dive.


Objectives:


  • To improve the health and fitness of people with disabilities by challenging their physical abilities and endurance;
  • To improve the quality of life of people with disabilities by providing opportunities to actively participate in a mainstream sport;
  • To “level the playing field” between people with disabilities and their able bodied peers by facilitating access to a sport that they, and others, thought was not possible;
  • To motivate people with disabilities into pursuing other life challenges (education, employment, travel, sports) by allowing them to achieve at a sport that many people cannot;
  • To profile the abilities and potential of people with disabilities to mainstream society.


Context:


Scuba diving can give people with physical disabilities an opportunity to participate in an active sport with able-bodied peers. For people with disabilities, succeeding at this seemingly impossible challenge results in improved self-confidence. In addition, scuba diving provides people with something new to look forward to – whether it’s a trip to an exotic destination or discovering a new part of their local environment. Their attitude changes and they begin to see opportunities in other areas of their life as well.


When able-bodied divers see a person with a disability scuba diving – an activity they thought impossible for people with disabilities, their attitudes begin to change - they begin to look beyond the disability and see the person as a whole individual. If a person with a disability can scuba dive, what else can they do?


Taken together, these two factors have the potential to remove barriers and increase the integration of persons with disabilities in all aspects of Canadian society – sport, education and the workforce.


Finally, some disabled people may wish to try scuba diving for the simple excitement and fun of the activity.


FADC – Creating the Opportunity:


Freedom at Depth trains people with disabilities across Canada to scuba dive through provision of courses tailored to the unique requirements of the individual students.


Freedom at Depth has developed broad knowledge of disability issues and has extensive direct experience in delivering successful training.


  • Train students with disabilities
  • Provide local and international diving opportunities for FADC trained divers
  • Provide continuing education courses such as advanced diver, night diver...
  • Promote the benefits of scuba diving to people with disabilities across Canada
  • Develop a network of divers with disabilities and others interested in scuba for people with disabilities


Approach


1. Identification of Students - People from across Canada are eligible to participate. Clients will be identified through the following:


  • Referrals from rehabilitation centres and other disability organizations such as the Spinal Cord Injury Canada
  • Word of mouth
  • Students who have taken the course


2. Cost:


  • Able-bodied student divers are taught in classes of 6 to 8 at an average cost of $650.00 per person. Teaching people with disabilities requires a stricter student to instructor ratio and more time. (For example, teaching people with severe disabilities requires one instructor and one assistant per student) For this reason the cost of teaching people with disabilities is significantly higher than that of teaching able-bodied divers. Notwithstanding this increased cost, it is the intention of Freedom at Depth Canada (FADC) to charge students with a disability the same amount as would be charged a non-disabled student for a mainstream scuba diving certification course. The additional costs incurred as a result of the lower student/teacher ratio will be covered by FADC. The course fee will be waived if it constitutes an unreasonable burden for a potential student.


3. Travel and Accommodation:


  • Students are responsible for all international travel and accommodation expenses.
  • If a student is deserving and financially challenged, Freedom at Depth can cover some of these expenses.


4. Course Curriculum:


  • The course will be based on the Handicapped Scuba Assocation (HSA) curriculum.
  • Course location: The academic portion of the course will take place in a classroom setting in the Freedom at Depth building adjacent to Hubert Chrétien’s house in Ottawa, Ontario. The pool portion will take place at the wheelchair accessible pool in the Freedom at Depth building. The open water certification will take place at suitably acceptable open water sites locally, for summer courses, and in appropriate warm water locations for winter certifications.


Pre course requirements:


  • A valid dive medical certificate must be provided prior to acceptance into the program. If required, the foundation will provide students with the name of a doctor knowledgeable about diving with a disability.


Conclusion


Freedom at Depth Canada is committed to excellence in training. Scuba diving is an exciting, challenging sport for anyone – for people with disabilities, scuba diving allows them an opportunity to explore their personal limits and to set new and higher goals in all areas of their lives.



Founder's Profile


Hubert Chrétien – M.S.M.


Mr. Chrétien first experienced the wonders of scuba diving at the age of 11, in 1972. Mr. Chrétien has taught scuba diving to people with disabilities since 1993. In this time he has taught men and women with various types of disabilities: paraplegics, quadriplegics, blind, persons with muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, multiple scleroses, spina bifida, traumatic brain injury and others. Many of his students have gone on to become very active divers engaging in such activities as night diving, deep diving, cavern diving, technical diving and even ice diving. His students have explored the Red Sea, Australia's Barrier Reef, Indonesia and multiple locations in Canada and the Caribbean. Hubert Chrétien is a member of the Handicapped Scuba Association (HSA); the first and only international scuba accreditation agency for people with disabilities. As one of only two HSA course Director trainers in the world, Mr. Chrétien is qualified to train scuba instructors in the instruction of people with disabilities. As part of his HSA Scuba Instructor curriculum he teaches diving techniques, basic physiology, psychology of disability, access and general disability awareness issues.


In December 2015 at Rideau Hall, the Governor General of Canada recognized the inspiring work of Hubert Chrétien in Freedom at Depth Canada in decorating him with the Meritorious Service Medal M.S.M.




Mark Dumalski – President


Mr. Dumalski is a Chartered Professional Accountant and one of the first visually impaired individuals in Canada to become certified as a recreational Open Water Scuba diver. Following his recreational certification in 2002, Mr. Dumalski obtained his Advanced level HSA certification with Freedom at Depth in 2008. In the years since his introduction to the sport, Mr. Dumalski has continued to demonstrate that conventional expectations concerning the visually impaired community and scuba diving do not always apply. With minimal assistance from sighted divers, he has completed countless dives, independently exploring several ship wrecks in the St. Lawrence River, fresh water caverns in Northern Florida, and coral reefs in the South Pacific.


From his career as an international tax partner with Deloitte LLP, to his numerous pastimes including scuba diving, curling, and downhill skiing, Mr. Dumalski’s life is full of examples which demonstrate his firm belief that persons with disabilities are capable of achieving any goal, and accomplishing any task, regardless of perceived limitations.


Mr. Dumalski was born in Regina, Saskatchewan, and lost his sight as the result of an illness at the age of 2. He currently resides in Ottawa with his wife Alison and their two children.


Daryl Rock - Past President


In 1983, while attending Royal Military College of Canada, Daryl Rock sustained a spinal cord injury that resulted in him using a wheelchair ever since. Following this Injury Daryl moved to Ottawa where he returned to university, completed an undergraduate degree and a Masters of Arts before beginning a career in the Canadian federal public service.


Not letting the wheelchair slow him down, Daryl developed a passion for adventure travel, visiting dozens of countries around the world. While many of the places he visited were not wheelchair accessible, Daryl discovered that with the right attitude, a little creativity and support of others, almost anything was possible. While visiting Australia in 1990, Daryl had an opportunity to scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef. This experience sparked a lifelong passion for diving and led to him becoming involved in the founding of FADC.


Now a retired senior executive of the Canadian Federal Public Service, Daryl divides his time between travelling and community service. He is a recognized expert in social development and public policy. He has presented at conferences throughout North America. His work has been profiled in the Wall Street Journal and Forbes Magazine.


In addition to being past-Chair and co-founder of Freedom at Depth Canada, he is currently the Chairman of the Board of the Institute For Knowledge Mobilization. He is also a member of the Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem, and a board member of the Healthy Aboriginal Network.


He is the past-Chair of the Rick Hansen Institute (a global research institute committed to addressing spinal cord injury issues), and past-Chair of the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation. Over the years he sat on numerous other board and government committees.


He holds a Masters degree in Public Administration, and a BA in Political Science both from Carleton University, as well as a CEGEP certificate in engineering from College Militaire Royale de St. Jean.


Originally from Halifax, N.S. he currently resides in Ottawa with his wife Melanie.


Tim Inglis - Instructor


Tim learned to dive with Freedom at Depth when he was 14 after his leg was amputated due to cancer at the age of 11. He dove with the foundation for five years before becoming an HSA instructor himself. He has now been training SCUBA divers for more than a decade and has extensive experience diving with people with all kinds of disabilities.


Tim holds a bachelor’s degree in biomedical and electrical engineering from Carleton University. He endeavors to make diving safer through his work on dive computers and rebreather electronics.


Tim is also a passionate technical diver with experience in deep, cave, and shipwreck diving. He is proficient in the use of several advanced diving configurations including multi-gas open circuit and closed-circuit rebreather systems. Tim enjoys exploring dive sites around the world and has interests in marine life photography, decompression theory, and coastal ecology.



Diane Morrell - Director


Diane joined the FADC Board in April 2019, as the first female board member since the organization was founded. Despite sustaining a spinal cord injury in 1989 while tobogganing, Diane has led an active life as spouse, mother, volunteer, work, and sport.


Diane began diving in 2009 with Freedom at Depth and has continued to pursue additional dive education including, rescue diver, cavern, intro to cave, advanced nitrox, side-mount, and freediving. Although Diane was not able to be certified as a rescue diver due to the inability to remove an injured diver from the water, she was determined to take the course to gain new diving skills. Certification was not her primary goal with this course, but to learn more about safety and to become a better diver through this experience.

As a volunteer, Diane has co-founded two charitable organizations in her home community of Sault Ste. Marie. She is still an active Board member of both SkiAbility Algoma (adaptive waterskiing) and No Limits Adaptive Ski Association (adaptive downhill skiing). She is also an active downhill skier.


Diane works for Spinal Cord Injury Ontario as Regional Services Coordinator, supporting clients with a spinal cord injury in the Algoma District, and volunteers on various committees, mostly involving accessibility in Sault Ste. Marie.


Future aspirations in diving include decompression procedures course and diving in the amazing crystal caves in Abaco Bahamas.



Katherine Rollings - Instructor / Manager of Operations


Katherine Rollings entered the dive industry at the age of 16 when she got a job at the local dive shop in Brockville, Ontario. She returned to Brockville during the summers between university to work at the dive shop and to continue advancing her dive education. In the last several years she has pursued technical diving; receiving certifications for sidemount, advanced nitrox, decompression procedures, rebreather and intro to cave. She has also taken courses in freediving and underwater archaeology.


After several years of volunteering for Freedom at Depth, she began working as a Divemaster in 2015. In 2018, she finished her Open Water Scuba Instructor Course, and began teaching recreationally and assisting on Freedom at Depth courses. In 2019, Katherine assumed the role of Manager of Operations for Freedom at Depth. She graduated from Bishop’s University with a B.A in International Studies.



Board of Directors


Marc Dumalski - President; Robert Brown - Secretary; Diane Morrell - Director; Daryl Rock - Director