My friend Gil

Hearing the Request of Our Friend Gil

Whether we’re listening to children, new immigrants, people with intellectual disabilities, or other vulnerable or marginalized people, we don’t always give their words the same weight as adults who communicate as we do.

Gil is the youngest of a Portuguese family who immigrated to Quebec. From a very young age, he experienced developmental delays. These revealed an intellectual disability caused by Down Syndrome.

Gil has difficulty expressing himself using words. For people who don’t see him on a regular basis, he isn’t always easy to understand.  However, this doesn’t stop Gil from knowing what he wants and doing everything he can to communicate his desires to those around him.

Gil always wanted to be in front of the camera.

Each time he was around a video camera, he’d repeat his deep longing to stand in the spotlight and be the star of the movie.

When his special education teacher François played a documentary about intellectual disabilities, Gil used words and gestures with enthusiasm to express that he too wanted to appear on screen with the other actors.

For many different reasons, what we ask for is not always taken seriously.

It took several years before we responded to Gil’s relentless request.

Finally, we saw the light and decided to take concrete action to make our friend’s dream come true. Encouraged by an enthusiastic response from everyone we approached, and with the help of donations, production support, and volunteers, we went ahead with filming sessions that took place over a period of almost two years.

By the following year, we had collected a selection of interview excerpts, arranged by theme. Our aim was to edit a documentary on Gil’s journey.   

Like Gil, we needed to find the courage to persevere through our learning process. It took us several years to make sense of the new trends in communication and to figure out an original approach to broadcasting our video content.

Following Gil’s lead, we now want to spread the word about Gil’s wish to appear on screen. Can you help us to broadcast these weekly clips of Gil on social media?

The process is very simple. Just send your name and email to the following address and we’ll add you to Gil’s list of friends:


Project initiator: Gil Frois
Filming: Voices and Colors New Media
Production: Jean Vanier Association
Web series adaptation: L’Arche Canada
Filming and dissemination partners: L’Arche Agapè and Association des Arches du Québec

Most documentaries are inspired by exceptional subjects or unusual situations. In this film, the camera follows Gil as he goes about his everyday tasks. He completes each job with the same tireless enthusiasm, never giving up.
These days, everyone is rushing everywhere, always seeking more, never feeling enough. Yet, you seem to be content being just where you are, present to people and the moment, and open to wonder.
I did not know Aurèle, but I was sad when I heard that he died. I was sad for him and his family and friends, for his friend Gil, their housemates and their L’Arche community.
Do you have an intellectual disability and dream of being a model? Gil invites you to step onto the stage and participate in our ExpressYourself Contest by posing in front of the camera!
Many thanks to everyone who answered our invitation and shared their smile for World Down Syndrome Day. We are now launching a new invitation… to share the stage with Gil. Do you know anyone with an intellectual disability who, perhaps inspired by Gil, would like to be in the spotlight? Write to us at
Why does my heart melt when I see a picture of Gil Frois in my Facebook feed or on I’m either rushing or exhausted, but I jump online to make sure I’m not missing yet another thing… there he is smiling at the camera, or captured at work, or making music. His photo makes me pause and catch my breath.
How can we describe Gil’s music? Innate, intuitive, inspired, free, without reference? Different, for sure!