Hearing the Request of Our Friend Gil

Sometimes it takes a long time to truly listen to people who express themselves differently, who don’t fulfill roles in society from which they can be heard.

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: http://crm.larche.ca/my-friend-gil


Mon ami Gil - Teaser from L’Arche Canada on Vimeo


Mon Ami Gil - Dedication from L'Arche Canada on Vimeo.

Read Mon ami Gil, a Story of Friendship


MonAmiGil-3-En from L'Arche Canada on Vimeo.

Read Creating a web series based on ordinary life


Mon Ami Gil - 4 - Childhood from L'Arche Canada on Vimeo.

Read Gil, what’s your secret?


Send a big smile for World Down Syndrome Day

Gil invites everyone to send a smile to those who share Gil’s, or any other, intellectual disability, before March 17, 2018

Take a picture of your biggest smile and email it to gil.monami@gmail.com

Your smile will be included in a video that will be disseminated on social media on March 21, World Down Syndrome Day. The clip will also be shared that same day during the launch of the web series “My Friend Gil”, produced at the Gil’s request.



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