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.


Objectives:


  • To improve the health and fitnessof 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 Canadian Paraplegic Association
  • 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 $500.00 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 travel and accommodation 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. The pool portion will take place at a wheelchair accessible pool. 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, wall 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


Mr. Inglis is an HSA SCUBA Instructor with over a decade of experience teaching diving, and years of experience helping divers with severe disabilities enjoy the sport.


Having lost his right leg to bone cancer in 1999, Tim learned to dive in 2002 at the age of 14. For an athletic youth sidelined in more traditional sports such as hockey and baseball, SCUBA diving presented a great opportunity to stay active.


During his years as an HSA diver, Tim has earned many advanced technical diving certifications and has gained considerable experience working with students who live with a wide verity of disabilities. Tim’s focus is leading dives, including diving as a primary buddy for students who cannot swim or preform other fundamental SCUBA skills independently. After Hubert Chretien, Tim is the second most experienced HSA Instructor in Canada.


Board of Directors


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