According to Statistics Canada, in 2006 2.9 million Canadians, approximately 11.5% of the population had a mobility disability. This is the client group of Freedom at Depth Canada.
Currently there is no other scuba diving organization in Canada training people with disabilities how to scuba dive in a safe and professional way. With its advanced curriculum for training people with disabilities and in-house certified Handicapped Scuba Association course director (instructor trainer), Freedom at Depth is the premier institute in Canada for training people with disabilities.
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.
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.
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.
Mr. Chrétien first experienced the wonders of scuba diving at the age of 11, over 35 years ago. Mr. Chrétien has taught scuba diving to people with disabilities for more than 20 years. In this time he has taught men and women with various types of disabilities: paraplegics, quadriplegics, 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 Canada’s sole HSA Course Director Mr. Chrétien is the only person in Canada 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.
Mark Dumalski – President
Mr. Dumalski is a Chartered 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 10 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 over 50 dives to date, independently exploring several ship wrecks in the St. Lawrence River, and fresh water caverns in Northern Florida.
From his career as a tax practitioner in Deloitte’s International Tax Group, 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.
Earning both a Bachelor of Commerce degree and the Gold Medal for Academic Achievement in Commerce from the Telfur School of Management at the University of Ottawa, Mr. Dumalski has a strong history of active involvement with numerous not-for-profit organizations. In addition to his role as Treasurer with Freedom at Depth Canada, he has served as President of the Ottawa chapter of the Alliance for the Equality of Blind Canadians, a national consumers’ advocacy group for the visually impaired community, and as a director of the board for Ottawa Suzuki Strings, a pre-eminent music school for Ottawa-area youth. He has also served as a spokesperson for Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind.
Mr. Dumalski was born in Regina, Saskatchewan, and lost his sight as the result of an illness at the age of 2.5. He currently resides in Ottawa with his wife Alison, his guide dog Jubilee, and their 4 pets.
Daryl Rock - Past President
Mr. Rock is an avid traveler and enthusiastic scuba diver. He has traveled extensively in North America, Europe, the South Pacific and Asia, enjoying the sites and cultures of dozens of countries. He recognizes the physical, mental and emotional benefits of an active lifestyle for everyone and, understanding the increased challenges facing people with disabilities, is committed to promoting integration through scuba diving. Joining the federal public service after completing his MA in Public Administration in 1988, Mr. Rock has held a series of increasingly senior positions in various departments. Mr. Rock is currently the Director of Strategic Programs at the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), a federal government research-funding agency. Since 1985 Mr. Rock has worked as a volunteer at the local, provincial and national levels with many organizations including the Canadian Paraplegic Association and the Rick Hansen Foundation. In addition to his work with Freedom at Depth Canada (FADC), Mr. Rock is the currently the voluntary president the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation, a research foundation dedicated to improving the quality of life of persons with spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries. Recently, Mr. Rock published, “Making a Difference” a book profiling the accomplishments of 25 great Canadians. In 1993 Mr. Rock was awarded the Governor General Canada 125 medal in recognition of his volunteerism and other community contributions. In 1983 Mr. Rock experienced a spinal cord injury and has used a wheelchair ever since.
Tim Inglis - Instructor
Mr. Inglis is one of two HSA SCUBA instructors that teach with Freedom At Depth. 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 fantastic opportunity to stay active. In his ten years as an HSA diver, Tim has earned several certifications, culminating in his becoming an instructor in 2009. Tim’s primary focus is leading dives for people with a wide range of disabilities, 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.
As a result of his experience with Freedom At Depth and as an amputee, Tim has developed a passion for adaptation and developing novel solutions to problems faced by people with disabilities. Consistent with this passion is his personal pursuit of developing systems for inexpensive prosthetic limb manufacturing through the use of rapid prototyping technology. Tim is currently studying Biomedical Electrical Engineering at Carleton University.
Board of Directors
Marc Dumalski - President; Robert Brown - Director; Daryl Rock - Director