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The Impossible
We say there is an impossible gap between the rich and the poor, the powerful and the powerless, between the walls created between groups of people. And because we say it is impossible, we close...
A Human Future
Social Innovation; Social Entrepreneurship:
An Interview with Al Etmanski

Al Etmanski is a community organizer, social entrepreneur, and author of several books, including the recent bestseller Impact: Six Patterns to Spread Your Social Innovation. He co-founded Social Innovation Generation, and as co-founder of Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network, he led the campaign to create Canada’s—and the world’s—first Registered Disability Savings Plan. He is also co-founder of BC Partners for Social Impact. He is an Ashoka Fellow.


Al Etmanski has long been bringing his giant intellect and his energy and compassion to effect significant social change in attitudes and real, practical improvements in the lives of vulnerable Canadians. A global thinker and keen observer, he recognizes possibilities and has helped organizations get “unstuck.”  He connects others in significant conversations, and he writes an excellent blog in which he often draws attention to creative and fruitful approaches of other groups to a range of issues, including the environment, women’s initiatives, and indigenous concerns.  He and his wife, Vickie Cammack, received the Order of Canada for social-innovation leadership and their work with people with disabilities.

After the TRC— Citizen Engagement (Part II)
An Interview with Commissioner Marie Wilson

Dr. Marie Wilson has served on the TRC since 2009. An award-winning journalist and executive manager for CBC North, she was first host of the CBC’s Focus North, launched the first daily northern TV news service, and developed the Arctic Winter Games and True North Concerts. She has taught in Africa and delivered training through the South African Broadcasting Corporation. She has an honorary Doctorate of Laws degree. She and her husband, Stephen Kakfwi, have 3 children and 4 grandchildren.


This issue continues the interview with Commissioner Marie Wilson of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Dr. Wilson points to the multitude of opportunities that are set out in the TRC’s “Calls to Action.” The Commission will present its full final report to the federal government at the end of this year. Now, it falls to all of us who are Canadians to see that its recommendations are implemented—that we learn and teach the true story of the treatment of Indigenous peoples in Canada and that we do the work called for to bring justice, true reconciliation, and a good future for all in our country. – B.Porter, ed.

After the TRC—The Path Ahead (Part I)
An Interview with Commissioner Marie Wilson

Dr. Marie Wilson has served on the TRC since 2009. An award-winning journalist and executive manager for CBC North, she was first host of the CBC’s Focus North, launched the first daily northern TV news service, and developed the Arctic Winter Games and True North Concerts. She has taught in Africa and delivered training through the South African Broadcasting Corporation. She has an honorary Doctorate of Laws degree. She and her husband, Stephen Kakfwi, have 3 children and 4 grandchildren.


The Canadian government established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada because it finally had to acknowledge the great damage done Indigenous people by the government-supported residential school system. It has been said that just as the schools persisted over 7 generations, it will take 7 generations to heal the damage and for a truthful national story to take hold. It’s for our generation to begin. Dr. Marie Wilson is one of the 3 Commissioners who tirelessly travelled the country for 5 years recording the history of abuse. We are grateful to her for this interview.  – B. Porter, ed.

Democratic Essentials at Risk [revisited]
An Interview with Ursula Franklin

Ursula M. Franklin, CC, FRSC, is a Canadian academic, pacifist and feminist. She and her family were imprisoned by the Nazis, an experi­ence that informs her commitment to democ­racy. She received her PhD in experimental physics at the Technical University of Berlin in 1948. She came to Canada in 1949 and began a distinguished scientific career. She was the first woman professor in the University of Toronto’s Dept. of Metallurgy and Materials Science. She resides in Toronto and is a grandmother.


In 2011, before the last federal election, we published this very popular interview with Canadian humanitarian and thought leader Dr. Ursula Franklin. Although some allusions reflect that particular time, much remains relevant. Hoping it will contribute to readers’ preparation for the upcoming election, we are re-sending it as a bonus issue with some new links and a box on Dr. Franklin’s 2014 CBC “Next Chapter” interview. Stephen Clarkson’s piece and the link to the Afrobarometer continue to remind us of the privilege we share living in a democracy, whatever its weaknesses (see link to Gordon Gibson on page 4 and Andrew Coyne’s Walrus article.) You can expect our Fall issue of A Human Future in a few weeks. –Beth Porter, ed.

Philanthropy: Nourishing Our Cultural Life
An Interview with Scott Griffin

Scott Griffin, OC, left his business in the mid-1990s, flew his small plane south across the Atlantic, and spent two years assisting the Flying Doctors Service of Africa. He has served on NGO boards including the AMREF International Board. In 2000 he established the Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry. In 2001, he came to the financial rescue of Canadian publishing, becoming owner and chair of House of Anansi Press. In 2010, he established Poetry in Voice, a bilingual poetry recitation competition for students.


When we launched A Human Future in 2001, our goal was “to strengthen the experience of human solidarity in Canada.” Scott Griffin has lifted up the place of poetry in our society because he recognized that poetry could enhance our cultural life. A link exists between a cultural life rich in humanistic values, where the imagination is not deadened, and the propensity of people to see and respond to needs and opportunities to create a better society. Philanthropy, whether on a small or large scale, is one important outcome. – B.Porter, ed.

 

SPECIAL ISSUE
Celebrating L’Arche’s Jubilee Year

In 1964, touched by the loneliness of people with intellectual disabilities abandonned in large institutions, Jean Vanier invited two men from an institution to live with him in a house in the French village of Trosly-Breuil. They called the house L’Arche, after Noah’s Ark. Jean, his new housemates Raphael Simi and Philippe Seux, and a bevy of friends set about fixing up the house and garden and creating community. L’Arche spread rapidly. The first community outside France was founded in Canada in 1969.


Last year we announced a hiatus for A Human Future as we focused on celebrating L’Arche’s 50th anniversary. L’Arche regions and communities across Canada held many special events, ranging from a symposium at Dalhousie University on “Vulnerability and Society,” to a festive three-day gathering in Trois Rivières, to a summer picnic in Nanaimo. In this special first issue of A Human Future for 2015, we offer some glimpses of our national and international celebrations. Expect three more issues in the coming year, once again featuring interviews with Canadian thinkers on topics of concern. – Beth Porter, ed.

Jean Vanier on Leadership
An Interview with Jean Vanier

Jean Vanier is a Canadian humanitarian, esteemed internationally for his advocacy for all who are marginalized and for his vision of a society where every person can belong and contribute. In 1964, appalled by conditions in institutions for people with intellectual disabilities, he founded what has become the international movement of L’Arche communities. Later, he co-founded Faith and Light, for families, and Intercordia. He is a Companion of the Order of Canada and recipient of many other honours.


Over the past months in Canada there have been notable failures in political leadership at various levels and also failures in leadership in corporate and other arenas. Jean Vanier is looked to as a Canadian social visionary and moral leader. The Globe and Mail has described him as “the country’s pre-eminent humanitarian” and, in 2008, named him “Nation Builder of the Year.” We reached him in France, where he continues to live in the original L’Arche community. – Beth Porter, ed.

Trauma and its Unpredictable Legacy
An Interview with John O'Donnell

Major John O’Donnell is currently the Senior Army Reserve Chaplain for the Canadian Forces in Atlantic Canada. In this parttime role, he supervises chaplain team leaders and provides pastoral support to soldiers and families during times of difficulty and crisis. In 1998, he was a first responder to the crash of Swissair Flight 111. He has carried various roles with L’Arche and is now Senior Marketing and Public Relations Advisor for L’Arche Canada. He has a B.Sc. from St. F.X., and an M.Div. from Harvard.


Most of us have had to respond to traumatic situations at times, and we are likely to know others who have lived through sudden loss, accidents, war or other very difficult situations. John O’Donnell’s account of his involvement in the Swissair disaster and its aftermath, and his experience of dealing with trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder among those who did the recovery work at the Swissair crash site and among returning soldiers is both inspiring and informative. – Beth Porter, ed.

The Path of Peacemaking
An Interview with Ruth Patterson

Rev Dr Ruth Patterson is a Presbyterian minister and Director of Restoration Ministries, an interdenominational organization promoting peace, reconciliation and healing, which she founded in 1991. She has received many honours for her work and travels widely giving retreats and talks. She holds degrees from Queen’s University, Belfast, the University of Toronto (an MSW) and Edinburgh University. In 1976 Ruth was the first woman ordained in Ireland. She served a mainly loyalist congregation for 14 years.


In this issue we depart from our custom of interviewing Canadians to talk with an Irish woman who is having a profound impact on people engaged in the work of reconciliation. Rev. Ruth Patterson was recently in Canada to give an address during the L’Arche General Assembly and public talks in Vancouver and Calgary. She also spoke at the Wisdom on the Journey gathering in Alberta, that brought together people from diverse communities to examine the legacy of Indian Residential Schools and support the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. – Beth Porter, ed.

Community-Building on an Urban Scale
An Interview with Mayor Naheed Nenshi of Calgary

Naheed Nenshi became mayor of Calgary in October, 2010. Mayor Nenshi grew up in Calgary and holds degrees from the University of Calgary and Harvard where he was a fellow at the Kennedy School of Government. He has lived and worked in cities around the world. He has been a trusted advisor to non-profits and major corporations, has designed Alberta government policy, has worked with the United Nations on how global business can help the world’s poorest people, and has written significantly on cities.


Mayor Naheed Nenshi is a passionate Calgarian, an academic, an accomplished business professional, and a man with a strong social conscience and community values. He has a reputation for thinking outside the box and he is seemingly tireless in his support of community initiatives. We asked, what can we learn from this man who has a passion for building community in his city. – Beth Porter, ed.

Water—What Does It Mean to Us?
An Interview with Luke Stocking

Since 2006, Luke Stocking has worked with Development and Peace (D&P), the international development agency of the Canadian Catholic Church. His first involvement in D&P was at 16, in a campaign to end sweatshop labour. Most of Luke’s work is with Canadian Catholics. However, he has led trips for volunteer members to visit D&P partners in Zambia, the Philippines and Paraguay. Luke has an MA in Theology from the University of Toronto (St Michaels’). He is happily married and has two children.


In this issue we asked Luke Stocking to speak about his educational work on bottled water as a leader in Development and Peace, the arm of Canadian Catholic Church that focuses particularly on Catholic Social Teaching and social justice work. It was not our intention in choosing this topic that it correspond to the season of personal reflection and spiritual preparation that is Advent in the Christian calendar, but perhaps it will inspire such reflection. – Beth Porter, ed.

Food and Community
An Interview with Adam Gopnik

Adam Gopnik was born in Philadelphia and grew up in Montreal. He has been writing for The New Yorker since 1986. He has written fiction and humour, book reviews, profiles, reporting pieces, and over a hundred stories. He has received several magazine awards. He is also the author of six books including The Table Comes First: Family, France, and the Meaning of Food (2011). Adam Gopnik delivered the CBC Massey Lectures in 2011, on the theme of Winter. He lives in New York with his wife Martha and two children.


The shared meal, whether at home or in a restaurant, is one of the great social pleasures of life, and probably one of the great civilizing influences in our world, but it is put at risk by the increasingly hectic pace of North American life. At the same time, as concerns about sustainability and our environment grow, many of us are thinking more about the quality, origins and preparation of the food we eat. We are grateful to Adam Gopnik, gifted writer, thinker and cultural observer, who draws several of these threads together. – Beth Porter, ed.

Understanding Quebec: What Other Canadians Should Know
An Interview with Jacques Dufresne

Jacques Dufresne , well-known Quebec philosopher and social commentator, is director of L'Encyclopédie de L'Agora, on the Internet, and editor of La Lettre de L'Agora, an online publication of ideas and debate. He is co-creator with L'Arche Canada and the PLAN Institute of Appartenance-Belonging.org. He is a founder of Philia.ca, a resource on Caring Citizenship. He is a thought-provoking author, journalist and lecturer, long at the centre of Quebec social debate on diverse issues. He did his doctoral work on Simone Weil.


For some 40 years Jacques Dufresne has been an important leader and contributor to intellectual life in Quebec. In this issue, he broadens our understanding and deepens the conversation about a movement that some Canadians outside Quebec have dismissed, and that among others has aroused ire, bewilderment, and sometimes, support. He points to the implicit call to address 21st century inadequacies in traditional representative democracy, and he suggests possibilities for a hopeful outcome after the protests. Beth Porter - ed.

The Art of L'Arche Members
An Interview with Jacquie Boughner

Jacquie Boughner is a professional artist living in Richmond Hill, Ontario. She has been a consultant with the Ontario Arts Council and has done curatorial work for public and private galleries. In 2011-12 she was a curator of the L’Arche Ontario Show in the suite of the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario at Queen’s Park. She has been involved with L’Arche for 20 years as a friend and board member of L’Arche Daybreak and L’Arche Ontario. She often gives reflections inspired by the art of L’Arche members.


The art of people who are outside the mainstream arts world has begun to be more widely recognized. L’Arche has been part of this movement. Indeed, from its founding in 1964, L’Arche saw opportunities for creativity as part of having a meaningful daily life. Many L’Arche communities have creative arts workshops or craft studios. Several regularly present art show and sales, and L’Arche members with intellectual disabilities are also being invited to submit their art to exhibitions with other artists. In this issue, Jacquie Boughner reflects on the art of L’Arche members and we offer a glimpse of the work of a few of these artists. -ed.

Overcoming Invisibility
An Interview with Steven Estey on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Steven Estey has written and spoken widely on disability as a human rights issue, including to the United Nations and Canadian parliamentary committees, and he has worked with NGOs, governments and multilateral agencies around the world for over two decades to advance the situation of people with disabilities. He chairs the International Development Committee of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities and works as a private consultant. He lives in Nova Scotia with his wife and son.


In his capacity as a member of the Canadian delegation to the Ad Hoc Committee which drafted the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD), Steven Estey enabled Canada to contribute very significantly to the Convention. Canada ratified the Convention on March 11, 2010. This interview looks at the promise of this ground-breaking document and invites us to help make it known. – Beth Porter, ed.

Encountering 'The Other Face of God'
An Interview with Mary Jo Leddy

Mary Jo Leddy is founder of and lives at Romero House, a community for refugees in Toronto. She lectures widely, is the author of several books and the recipient of many academic and humanitarian awards including the Order of Canada. She is active in the
Ontario Sanctuary Coalition and in PEN Canada and is a Senior Fellow at Massey College, University of Toronto. Her Ph.D. work was in the philosophy of religion and political thought with emphasis on Hannah Arendt’s approach to the Holocaust.

Mary Jo Leddy is a font of wisdom distilled over years of helping hundreds of refugees through post-traumatic stress and through the dehumanizing maze of red tape and bureaucratic abuse that so often makes their settlement and recovery even more difficult. Her beautiful new book, The Other Face of God: When the Stranger Calls Us Home--part poetry, part theological reflection on the discovery of life’s meaning-- offers a practical spirituality that can sustain us in our day. -ed.

Sobering Thoughts
An Interview with Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood is the author of more than 40 books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays. Her newest novel, The Year of the Flood (2009) is, in the author’s words, the “simultaneal” to her 2003 Giller Prize finalist, Oryx and Crake. Other books include The Blind Assassin, Alias Grace, The Robber Bride, Cat’s Eye, The Handmaid’s Tale, and The Tent. Her next book, In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination, will be published in Fall 2011. Margaret Atwood lives in Toronto with writer Graeme Gibson.


This is the second of two issues of A Human Future related to our democracy, and timed to come out shortly before and a few weeks after the federal election. For these, we invited two prominent Canadian women— Ursula Franklin and now, Margaret Atwood. Atwood’s is a prophetic voice and, like other prophets, she disturbs, but no one can question her love for Canada. L’Arche itself was born of the prophetic vision of Jean Vanier, who spoke and acted to bring justice to people whose marginalization was well entrenched and taken for granted by many in the general populace. – Beth Porter, ed.

Democratic Essentials at Risk
An Interview with Ursula Franklin

Ursula M. Franklin, CC, FRSC, is a Canadian academic, pacifist and feminist. She and her family were imprisoned by the Nazis, an experi­ence that informs her commitment to democ­racy. She received her PhD in experimental physics at the Technical University of Berlin in 1948. She came to Canada in 1949 and began a distinguished scientific career. She was the first woman professor in the University of Toronto’s Dept. of Metallurgy and Materials Science. She resides in Toronto and is a grandmother.


We Canadians are rapidly approaching an election about which there is a considerable degree of cynicism, while in the Middle East and Africa, citizens are giving their lives in a struggle to achieve democracy. It seems only right, given this context, that we engage the subject of our faltering democracy in this issue of A Human Future. We are honoured that Ursula Franklin, revered Canadian humanitarian, thought leader, and Quaker activist for social justice, has shared her insights with us. – Beth Porter, ed.

Jean Vanier’s Letter to the Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care

Jean Vanier is a Canadian humanitarian, spiritual leader, and internationally esteemed pioneer in the field of care for people with intellectual disabilities. Born in 1928, he joined the Royal Navy at age 13 and left it at 21 to begin a spiritual quest and to study for his PhD. Appalled by conditions of institutions where people with intellectual disabilities lived, in 1964 he welcomed two men to share a home with him. Thus began what has become the worldwide movement of L’Arche. In 1971, he co-founded Faith and Light, an international support network for families.


For this issue we have departed from our usual interview format to offer a slightly abridged version of a letter from Jean Vanier presented on October 15 to the Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care. This all-party Committee is conducting consultations across Canada on four distinct but related challenges: palliative care, suicide prevention, elder abuse, and disability issues related to health care. The Committee will submit a report early in 2011 urging specific policy action to address these areas. Ed.

Canadian Muslims Looking to the Future
An Interview with Yahya Qureshi

Born in Burma and raised in Pakistan, Yahya Qureshi came to Canada in 1967. He taught for 36 years, in the public high school system, first in Toronto and later in Markham, Ontario. When h retired in 2003, he was recruited to be principal of the very well-regarded Islamic Foundation School of Toronto. He holds degrees from Peshawar University, the University of Toronto, and Niagara University. One of his children, Alia, had progressive multiple disabilities and lived out her later teen and adult life in L'Arche.


Yahya Qureshi is a moderate Muslim, observant in his faith practices and a leader in his community. He is principal of a popular Muslim school that has received top ranking for its teaching of the Ontario curriculum. He describes his interest in politics and his hopes for the education of the next generation of young Canadian Muslims. The term “moderate” is variously defined and lived out by Muslims in Canada today, and a lively debate is gradually emerging in the Muslim community as to what is normative. This issue offers sidebar content and some links that give a glimpse into the diversity of thought in among Muslims in Canada.

Punitive or Rehabilitative: What do we want for our Criminal Justice System?

Craig Jones is the Executive Director of The John Howard Society of Canada, an NGO based in Kingston whose mission statement is “effective, just and humane responses to the causes and consequences of crime.” He holds a doctorate in political economy from Queen's University and before coming to the Society was a researcher in the Faculty of Health Sciences and the Centre for the Study of Democracy (both at Queen's) as well as a teacher and lecturer at Queen's, RMC, St. Lawrence and Loyalist Colleges. He has published on drug policy, public policy, crime and mental illness.


News in recent months has alluded to legislative changes and proposed changes to the criminal justice system. We think this is a matter for urgent public debate. In this issue, Craig Jones’ thought-provoking responses are accompanied by related materials including Harley Eagle’s interesting reflection on Restorative Justice.

Invited into Understanding: An Interview with AFN National Chief

National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo is a Hereditary Chief from the Ahousaht First Nation in British Columbia. During two terms as the BC Regional Chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), his skills contributed to a historic accord, overcoming decades of discord among BC First Nations leadership. He was elected AFN National Chief in 2009. He holds a Master of Education degree in Adult Learning and Global Change, and is Chancellor of Vancouver Island University. He is supported by his partner of 23 years, Nancy, and their two adult children.


A builder of unity, the new AFN National Chief brings with him clarity, energy, realism and hope. His honourary name means “Everything is on your shoulders.” In closing, I asked what helps him cope. He described a photo in his office, of himself with his grandmother, saying, “She’s with me everyday—as she promised!” B.P., editor.

Walker Brown : Pool of Hope; Collective Work of Art; Teacher : An Interview with Ian Brown

Ian Brown is a feature writer for the Globe and Mail; and anchor of TVO’s Human Edge and The View from Here, Canada’s pre-eminent television documentary series. For ten years he was host of CBC Radio’s Talking Books. His reporting and editing have won more than a dozen national magazine and newspaper awards. He is the editor of the anthology What I Meant to Say: The Private Lives of Men, and author of the books Freewheeling and Man Overboard, and most recently, The Boy in the Moon: A Father’s Search for his Disabled Son.


This fall, Random House published Ian Brown’s very beautifully written book The Boy in the Moon, about his journey with his son Walker, who is profoundly disabled by cardiofaciocutaneous syndrome (CFC), a rare genetic disorder. The book has recently been short-listed for the British Columbia National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction.

Learning from Millenial Youth : An Interview with James Penner

James Penner, veteran youth specialist, is Associate Director of Dr. Reginald Bibby's "Project Teen Canada 2008." He teaches Sociology of Youth at the University of Lethbridge, and is co-author of Soul Searching the Millennial Generation (2005), and this fall, Aboriginal Millennials in National Perspective, and Ten Things You Have to Know About Today's Teenagers. Formerly a national youth consultant with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and a public school educator, James is primary researcher of James Penner and Associates. He and his wife Claire have two adult children."


 "Millennial youth" is a sociological term for young people born in the 80s and 90s and coming into their adult years now, in this new millennium. James Penner discusses his learning from his undergraduate students and the results of Project Teen Canada 2008, the final stage in a unique series of national, bilingual research projects examining the values, attitudes, beliefs, behaviour, and expectations of Canadian teenagers. More responsible, conservative, materialistic, more concerned about the future and more steeped in the media than previous generations, this "generation Y" faces different challenges.

The Plight of the Poor: An Interview with Gerry Helleiner

Gerry Helleiner is economics professor emeritus and distinguished research fellow  at  the University of Toronto’s Munk Centre. He has written widely on developing countries, and was a faculty member at Yale, Oxford, Sussex and the Universities of Ibadan and Dar es Salaam. He was research director of the developing countries’ caucus at the IMF and World Bank, and board chair of the North-South Institute, the International Food Policy Research Institute and International Lawyers and Economists Against Poverty. He has also advised numerous UN agencies and African governments.


Gerry Helleiner is enormously respected internationally for his contributions to development work and his mentoring of many others in this field. His Order of Canada citation credits him as having “enhanced Canada's reputation as a caring and compassionate nation." Gerry and his wife Georgia and their family have also done much to support the inclusion of people with disabilities in our society.

The Practice of Compassion: An Interview with Gabor Maté, M.D.

Gabor Maté is a medical doctor and author in Vancouver, British Columbia. He has worked in family practice, palliative medicine, and addiction medicine. Currently he is staff physician at a facility for drug addicted persons in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side, many of them with HIV. His special interest is impact of early childhood experience on lifelong emotional and  physical health. Dr. Maté has written four nationally bestselling books in Canada, most  recently In The Realm of  Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction.


Gabor Maté is a family doctor who has made a huge difference  in the lives of many Vulnerable and struggling people – addicts, people with Attention Deficit Disorder, parents trying to understand their children. We are grateful for his work and his fascinating and highly readable books; and we are privileged to be able to present this interview.


Youth and International Development

Jessica Vorstermans  is a recent MA graduate from the University in Utrecht, The Netherlands, where she studied Conflict Studies and Human Rights and completed an internship at the European Center for Conflict Prevention in The Hague. She has volunteered, worked and studied in various Latin American countries--Ecuador, Paraguay, Guatemala and Cuba--and considers these experiences as definitive in shaping her in a moral, intellectual and spiritual way. Jessica is currently working as a freelance consultant and plans to continue her studies at the PhD level in September 2009.


Jessica Vorstermans is a smart, dynamic young woman who has a passion to change the world for the better. We felt that readers would enjoy a glimpse into her journey and some of her very timely thoughts. They might be interested also to know that Jessica is a child of L’Arche. With parents who were both L’Arche assistants, she grew up in a family that often shared their meal table with people with intellectual disabilities and young assistants from around the world. Jessica Vorstermans is a smart, dynamic young woman who has a passion to change the world for the better. We felt that readers would enjoy a glimpse into her journey and some of her very timely thoughts. They might be interested also to know that Jessica is a child of L’Arche. With parents who were both L’Arche assistants, she grew up in a family that often shared their meal table with people with intellectual disabilities and young assistants from around the world.

Restorative Justice: An Interview with Danny Graham QC

Danny Graham is a thought leader on justice reform, democratic renewal and citizen engagement. He has long encouraged the practice of restorative justice and he advises international agencies on its institution in developing countries. He is the Chief Negotiator for the Province of Nova Scotia in the Mi’kmaq rights and title initiative. Previously, he served as Nova Scotia Liberal Party leader, was a defence lawyer with Nova Scotia Legal Aid and Pink Murray Graham, and worked for Justice Canada to advance prominent national legislative initiatives. He is the father of three funloving boys.


Our prison systems are growing in size and shrinking in service provision. We offer this issue on restorative justice, potentially a different option for some offenders and victims, because the present system is not working well. Restorative justice, a practice rooted in First Nations wisdom, can provide community-building opportunities that strengthen the fabric of a society. We thank Danny Graham for the interview and Brian MacDonald for accepting the role of guest editor for this issue. Brian is a longtime friend of L’Arche and currently serves on the Boards of L’Arche Daybreak and of Intercordia Canada. – Beth Porter, editor.

Altruism : An Interview with Dr. Pamela Cushing
Part II

Pamela Cushing is a Cultural Anthropologist teaching at King's College, University of Western Ontario. Her research includes health and disability studies, social inclusion, the politics of difference, and experiential education. She did her doctoral research at L'Arche, interviewing over 100 L'Arche assistants across Canada, and her post-doctoral research with Camphill Schools in Scotland. She has also done research with numerous other organizations (Roeher Institute, CACL, the Laidlaw, Templeton and McConnell Family Foundations). Pam grew up in Montreal, and has lived in Europe, the U.S.A., and Togo. She and her husband, Jay, and their young son live in London, Ontario.


This issue explores the theme of altruism with particular reference to L’Arche as a kind of laboratory for what we might learn about it. L’Arche is built on the altruism or generosity of the many young volunteers who come as assistants to share life with people with developmental disabilities in its homes and programs. These young people accept a lifestyle that is radically different from their peers who are not in L’Arche. They come for a year, or two, and some stay much longer. What motivates and sustains this kind of generosity?

Altruism : An Interview with Dr. Pamela Cushing
Part I

Pamela Cushing is a Cultural Anthropologist teaching at King's College, University of Western Ontario. Her research includes health and disability studies, social inclusion, the politics of difference, and experiential education. She did her doctoral research at L'Arche, interviewing over 100 L'Arche assistants across Canada, and her post-doctoral research with Camphill Schools in Scotland. She has also done research with numerous other organizations (Roeher Institute, CACL, the Laidlaw, Templeton and McConnell Family Foundations). Pam grew up in Montreal, and has lived in Europe, the U.S.A., and Togo. She and her husband, Jay, and their young son live in London, Ontario.


The expression of altruism in a society – particularly the extent of its concern for its disadvantaged citizens – is a measure of the quality of the society itself. This issue is the first of a two-part series in which cultural anthropologist, Professor Pamela Cushing explores that spirit of generosity that is fundamental to the kind of society we want to live in. Dr. Cushing did her doctoral research at L’Arche. Part Two will examine learnings from this research.

Social Innovation: An Interview with Katharine Pearson

Katharine Pearson has been with the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, one of the largest private foundations in Canada, since 1997. She is director of the Foundation's five-year "Social Innovation Generation" initiative, the goal of which is to strengthen understanding of and capacity for social innovation in Canada. She serves on the board of Oxfam-Quebec and the program advisory group of the Foundation of Greater Montreal. Katharine's father was a diplomat and she grew up in India, Mexico and France. The Hon. Lester B. Pearson was her grandfather.


Many people today believe that to solve looming global problems we need new ways of thinking. The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation is working to strengthen the understanding of and capacity for social innovation in Canada. Katharine Pearson speaks about this work. Sidebars describe two initiatives that use building space to foster networking for innovation and mutual support among groups working for social change.

Young People Changing the World
An Interview with Marc Kielburger

Marc Kielburger is founder of Leaders Today. It has provided local and international training experiences to over 350,000 youth around the world. He is also Chief Executive Director of Free the Children, founded by his brother Craig. First organized to fight child labour, today it focuses on education and an effective development model to help communities become sustainable. It is the world’s largest network of children helping children through education. A Rhodes Scholar, Marc is a graduate of Harvard and Oxford. He has a law degree with emphasis on human rights law.


Young people who come to assist in L’Arche communities often gain greater knowledge of themselves and a different outlook. This kind of transformative learning through service is increasingly popular and is often happening in tandem with community building led by youth-oriented organizations. This issue of A Human Future highlights the rapidly growing, youth-led organization Free the Children and includes sidebars from young people who have been involved in two other innovative not-for-profits

Changing Attitudes: Louise Arbour on Human Rights

Louise Arbour, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, has had a distinguished career as a lawyer, academic, and judge. She served on the Supreme Court of Ontario, the Ontario Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada, and she made history as the courageous and determined Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunals for former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Since accepting the role of High Commissioner for Human Rights in 2004, she has implemented reforms of her Office and, among other concerns, has encouraged the fast-tracking of the new U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Mme Arbour was born in Montreal.


We are privileged to present an interview with Louise Arbour, a Canadian who works tirelessly to forge a more just and compassionate world. This issue anticipates the UN General Assembly’s adoption of the new Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities next month. – Beth Porter, ed.

Discovering what brings us together - An Interview with Pamela Wallin

Pamela Wallin's distinguished career spans 30 years and several continents. She has worked with CBC radio, in the Ottawa bureau of the Toronto Star, as co-host of Canada AM, as CTV's Ottawa bureau chief, and as first woman co-anchor of CBC television's nightly national news. Through her own production company she hosted a nightly interview program. She has written three books, and has received many honours for her work in journalism. In 2002, she accepted an appointment to the prestigious post of Canada's Consul General to New York City.


I spoke to Pamela Wallin in her New York office this summer as she was winding up her role as Canadian Consul General. As one of Canada’s best known and loved journalists, she needs no introduction. Some readers may recall an excellent interview she did with Jean Vanier on CBC Newsworld a few years ago. Beth Porter, ed.

Conversation That Shapes Society - An Interview with Philip Coulter

Philip Coulter is a documentary producer with the CBC Radio program Ideas and also the producer of many of the prestigious Massey Lectures. The common thread in his work is his interest in the things that form us as societies and how we choose to live together. He has brought his considerable gifts to the exploration of topics as diverse as the contemporary Maya and Inca, the mystery of pain, landscape architecture, the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, and the contribution of individuals such as Jean Vanier. He is presently preparing a series on the people who live near Chernobyl and is also working with Margaret Somerville on the 2006 Massey Lectures.


When in 2001 I co-edited a book with Philip Coulter, I quickly came to appreciate Philip’s incisive questions and determination to go to the heart of issues. It is the same quality so evident in the many Ideas documentaries he produces for CBC Radio. In 1998, he produced Jean Vanier’s Massey Lectures (Becoming Human). Recently he returned to Vanier and the original L’Arche community of Trosly, France, to produce the series The
Gift of Love
. Beth Porter, ed.

Journey to Personal and Social Transformation - An Interview with Jean Vanier and Dr. Balfour Mount
Special L'ARCHE FORUM issue

Dr. Balfour Mount, F.R.C.S.C., is a urologist and surgical oncologist. He pioneered palliative care and founded the hospice movement in Canada. He was founding director of the Royal Victoria Hospital Palliative Service, and he established the McGill Palliative Care and Integrated Whole Person Care programs. He is also a much-loved teacher.

Jean Vanier is founder of L'Arche and a spokesperson for all who are marginalized. Maclean's magazine has called him "A Canadian who inspires the world." Both Balfour Mount and Jean Vanier speak from the profound integrity of lives given fully to the vision and values they present.


On January 31, 2006, L’Arche Canada hosted a L’Arche Forum on Parliament Hill in Ottawa with Jean Vanier and Dr. Balfour Mount. It was offered internationally as a live web-simulcast and presented by CPAC on cable television. This issue of A Human Future presents a small taste of that remarkable evening. Beth Porter, ed.

This does not permit us silence: An Interview with Stephen Lewis

Stephen Lewis is the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa. He also sits on the WHO's Commission on the Social Determinants of Health and he is a director of the Stephen Lewis Foundation, dedicated to easing the pain of HIV/AIDS in Africa. His roles over the past two decades include Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF and Canadian Ambassador to the UN. Recipient of many honours, he is well known for his deeply compassionate commitment to issues of justice and his concern for Africa. He is this year's CBC Massey Lecturer.


Stephen Lewis touches our deepest aspirations to build a better world. In this interview Stephen Lewis talks not only about his passionate concern for Africa but also about his own motivations and hopes and about democratic socialism today. Beth Porter, ed.

Caring for Planet Earth - An Interview with Elizabeth May

Elizabeth May, lawyer, writer and internationally recognized environmentalist, is Executive Director of the Sierra Club of Canada. In the 1970s she became known in the Canadian media for her successful volunteer work against insecticide spraying near her Cape Breton home. Before going to the Sierra Club in 1989, she was a Senior Policy Advisor to the Federal Minister of the Environment and was instrumental in establishing several parks. In 2001, she fasted 17 days on Parliament Hill to draw attention to the plight of people whose homes were on contaminated land in Sydney, Nova Scotia.


“Without Elizabeth May, there would be no environmental movement in Canada.” This was the comment of Canadian environmentalist and professor of theology Heather Eaton, when she heard this issue of A Human Future would feature an interview with Elizabeth. Elizabeth May is a woman of great intelligence, energy and conviction and an inspiration to many. Canadians across the country benefit from the results of her hard work and dedication. Beth Porter, ed.

Public Service - It's a Vocation - An Interview with Lloyd Axworthy

Dr. Lloyd Axworthy is President and Vice Chancellor of the University of Winnipeg. Formerly he headed the Liu Institute for Global Issues. During his 27- year political career he held various Cabinet posts including Minister of Foreign Affairs (1995-2000). He is internationally acclaimed for his advancement of the human security concept, his work establishing the International Criminal Court and the Protocol on child soldiers, and the global treaty banning anti-personnel landmines. For this he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.


I spoke with Lloyd Axworthy from his office at the University of Winnipeg. Formerly United College, it is my alma mater as well as his. I recall him as a young professor, deftly sensitizing a group of us graduating students hired to take the census in the inner city where we would encounter illegal immigrants, people squatting, and others fearful of anything to do with government. It was an early example of his compassionate commitment to people and human security, for which he has become so known. Beth Porter, ed.

Redefining Being Human: An Interview with Jacques Dufresne

Jacques Dufresne, well-known Quebec philosopher and social commentator, is editor of the independent French language magazine of ideas and debate, L'Agora, and director of the evolving L'Encyclopédie de L'Agora, on the internet. For 30 years as a thought- provoking journalist and lecturer he has been at the center of social debate in Quebec on issues as diverse as suicide, sport, the health system, and agriculture. He is a founder of Philia, a Canadian organization dedicated to the promotion of dialogue encouraging of civil society. He did his doctoral work on Simone Weil.


For this interview Jean-Louis Munn of L’Arche Canada travelled to the beautiful little farm of Jacques Dufresne and his wife, Hélène Laberge. Jacques offers a sensitive reflection on that which makes us human – “la richesse vitale,” the precious aliveness within each person. It is something much deeper than our rationality, and something often found strikingly in people who have severe developmental disabilities. When we lose it, we enter a kind of wasteland. A whole society can experience this loss. Jacques’ exploration of how we can recover and nurture our souls is an important contribution. Beth Porter, ed.

An interview with Jean Vanier
L’Arche 40th Anniversary issue

Jean Vanier is known as a social visionary with a keen sense of what makes for a compassionate society. He has received numerous humanitarian honours including the Companion of the Order of Canada. He had a naval career, earned a doctorate in philosophy (Institut Catholique, Paris) and taught at St. Michael's College, University of Toronto, before founding L'Arche. Jean Vanier also founded an international network of support groups for families of people with developmental disabilities. He is a son of Canadian Governor-General Georges Vanier and Pauline Vanier.


Jean Vanier, founder of the International Federation of L’Arche communities gave this interview in early November, when he joined the communities of L’Arche Daybreak and L’Arche Toronto in a celebration of the 40th anniversary of L’Arche and the 35th anniversary of L’Arche in Canada. Beth Porter, ed.

Perfection? Human Values in the Balance
An interview with Margaret A. Somerville

Margaret A. Somerville, AM, FRSC, A.U.A, (pharm.), LL.B. (hons), D.C.L., LL.D. (hons. caus.) With a pharmacy background from Australia, in the ’70s Margaret Somerville did a Doctorate in Law on the ethics of medical research and, as she describes it, fell in love with this field. She was recently chosen by UNESCO as the first winner of the Avicenna prize for Ethics in Science. She is the founding director of the McGill Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law, and holds professorships in both the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University, Montreal.


Leading Canadian bio-ethicist Margaret Somerville is an incisive critical thinker and a passionate spokesperson who raises important questions about the nature of human life, the human yearning for perfection and the trajectory of scientific research today. In May 2004, she addressed Canadian L’Arche leaders. Her lecture, “Technoscience and Perfectionism: Eliminating People with Disabilities,” and a telephone interview are the
sources for this issue of A Human Future.

The Interfaith Imperative
A Canadian Muslim Woman’s View

Raheel Raza is a free-lance writer and a public speaker. Besides her work for the Ontario Public Service, she has spoken to dozens of church and civic groups since 9/11 and been interviewed by the media frequently. A passionate advocate for human rights and a leader among Muslim women, Raheel promotes interfaith relations. On International Women’s Day 2002 she received the Women’s Intercultural Network award for “Making a Difference”. She lives in Toronto with her husband and two sons, ages 18 and 20.


This issue of A Human Future is an invitation to readers to respond to the Canadian interfaith imperative, and as Jean Vanier urges, to come to know and value one another. Raheel Raza and I met in a women’s interfaith group. I am struck by Raheel’s commitment to dialogue, to her own Muslim faith, and to matters of justice in Islam.

Radical Amazement as a Door to Learning
Abraham Joshua Heschel’s Vision of Education by Otto Baruch Rand

Otto Baruch Rand is a respected educator, Heschel scholar and lecturer, and friend of L’Arche. A former teacher and principal in Toronto and New York and director of Winnipeg’s Jewish Board of Education, in 1995 he co-founded the popular Toronto Heschel School, which he describes as “a mini-laboratory for shaping a society guided by Heschel’s lofty principles.” He studied at the University of Chicago, the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. He is currently completing a textbook, The Story of Civilizations.


Perhaps no Jewish thinker is more appreciated by non-Jewish readers than Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. Of enormous moral stature, he was not only an outstanding teacher but also a social activist, an ecumenist and a builder of interfaith understanding who contributed importantly to Vatican II. Many people are familiar with the educational contributions of Maria Montessori and Rudolph Steiner’s Waldorf schools. Heschel’s thinking on education, more recent and less known, is extracted by Otto Rand. We offer this issue with the hope that it will inspire parents, teachers and all who continue to learn.  – Beth Porter, ed.

The Media and Society
The Passion of Linden MacIntyre, Host of CBC’s Fifth Estate - part two

Linden MacIntyre has produced documentaries and stories around the world. Many have influenced Canadian society for the better. His penetrating work in broadcast journalism has garnered Gemini, Michener and Sinclair Awards. Prior to joining the CBC in 1976, he worked with The Halifax Chronicle- Herald in the Ottawa parliamentary bureau, and in Cape Breton, and with The Financial Times of Canada. At the CBC he hosted The MacIntyre File, worked on The Journal, and was host of CBC Radio’s Sunday Morning before moving to The Fifth Estate.


In this second of a two-part interview, prominent investigative journalist Linden MacIntyre reflects upon journalism and the media in Canada today. Part One of this interview appeared in our September issue and may be accessed on our web-site, where new readers may also subscribe to this free e-publication.

The Media and Society
The Passion of Linden MacIntyre, Host of CBC’s Fifth Estate - part one

Linden MacIntyre has produced documentaries and stories around the world. Many have influenced Canadian society for the better. His penetrating work in broadcast journalism has garnered Gemini, Michener and Sinclair Awards. Prior to joining the CBC in 1976, he worked with The Halifax Chronicle- Herald in the Ottawa parliamentary bureau, and in Cape Breton, and with The Financial Times of Canada. At the CBC he hosted The MacIntyre File, worked on The Journal, and was host of CBC Radio’s Sunday Morning before moving to The Fifth Estate.


In June I had the pleasure of interviewing Linden MacIntyre, in many ways the dean of Canadian investigative journalism. This issue provides a glimpse into the humanity of this man whose sensitivity, courage, intelligence and compassion have for many years combined to address issues of vital concern to Canadians, from deceitful corporate cover-ups to wrongful convictions. Linden MacIntyre’s thoughts on the state of journalism and the media in Canada today will be the focus of our next issue – part two of this interview.

The Arts and Society
“Reminding us of what it is to be truly human.”

David Adams Richards has won the Governor General’s Award for both fiction and non-fiction. Several of his novels have been adapted for film. His concerns include “the complex moral and spiritual dimensions of power and violence and his characters’ personal responses to instances of inhumanity” (Margo Wheaton, Antigonish Review). His newest novel is River of the Brokenhearted, due out in August.


The health of any society is reflected in the vibrancy and depth of its artistic expression. For this issue we asked acclaimed Canadian author David Adams Richards to reflect on his experience as a writer. Richards emphasizes that great literature springs from what is authentically the writer’s own, unrelated to intellectual or social fads. And it ultimately will convey something about the nature of love and human life itself. As well, the much-read spiritual writer Henri Nouwen reflects on teaching van Gogh and being led, with his students, into the depths of the soul. The selection from Sandra Bryant Miller may challenge us to embrace what we think is a healthy tension between excellence and the democratic impulse to accept all creative expression, regardless of artistic merit. In L’Arche, we seek to foster inclusion in all that we do, and we also believe that it is honouring to empower individuals to produce work of the highest quality, whether this work is a performance, a liturgy, or a woven tablecloth or hand-crafted candle.

Renewing Democracy: Is there Hope?

Miriam Wyman coordinated Canada’s contribution to the Commonwealth Foundation’s Civil Society in the New Millennium Project, contributed to the From Venting to Inventing study, and is a member of the Foundation’s Citizens and Governance Programme team. She is a researcher, writer, facilitator and developer of consultative processes to strengthen citizens’ voices in decisions that affect them.


In L’Arche, we believe people need the sense of belonging to one another and the wider society gleaned from being able to contribute to decisions that affect us. This empowerment happens in a house meeting, where people may decide together such daily issues as who takes out the compost, and also happens when L’Arche people can contribute to social services policy. In A Human Future we promote dialogue about what makes for a healthy society, a society where people feel heard and give generously of themselves because they have a sense of ownership. We are grateful to Miriam Wyman, a friend of L’Arche with broad experience of helping build a society where people can contribute to decision making, who has written a thought-provoking and timely article. May we accept the challenge to grow in our participation as we approach upcoming elections!

Radical Gratitude
A Review by Mary Jo Leddy

Canadian social activist Dr. Mary Jo Leddy lives in and leads the Romero House community for refugees, which she helped found in 1990. She teaches theology at Regis College, in the University of Toronto’s School of Theology, and has written several other books including At the Border Called Hope.

A Human Future seeks to bring together some of the best humanistic and spiritual thought in ways that contribute to building a compassionate Canadian society. Feedback on our last issue, on health care, led us to think about the point of origin for systemic transformation, and that has led us to review Radical Gratitude, a timely new book by Mary Jo Leddy. The book does not attempt to offer a comprehensive model for societal renewal, but to provide a fresh and accessible starting point outside familiar political and economic thought structures.

Pursuing Common Values and Transparency in Health Care
A Call to Recover our Moral Imagination

“Unless we can reclaim our commitment to one another, we’re not a society.”


This issue presents portions of a challenging analysis by respected Canadian health care advocate Dr. Nuala Kenny, Head of the Department of Bio-ethics at Dalhousie University. In her direct, no-nonsense style Dr. Kenny names festering issues and calls Canadians to become involved in the health care system. She urges us to move beyond the private and particular values of our family or group to discover the common values we share as Canadians, whatever our income bracket, education, social standing or ethnic or religious connections, and to insist that policy and practical decisions reflect these values. Ursula Franklin and Bob Rae offer comments related to Dr. Kenny’s thoughts. We believe that giving time to critical reflection on our society and to involvement in public issues is one measure of our integrity as citizens.

Disappointment, Hope and Relationship with “the Other”

Beth Porter reflects on Michael Adam’s recent findings and on the thought of Jean Vanier and other Canadian intellectuals.”

“What does it mean to be in a society that has become hard towards the more fragile?” 

L'Arche Canada - 2017