“They became like brothers. A deep friendship blossomed.”

One of Gil’s greatest gifts is his capacity for mutuality in friendships where each helps the other to grow, each brings out the best in the other. When he was young, Gil was fortunate to be accompanied by an extraordinary special educator, François Villemaire, who at the time worked for the “Pavillon du parc”, an establishment that is part of the network of health and social services in Gatineau, Quebec.

François was involved with Gil for many years, providing Gil with stimulating challenges during periods of work placement inclusion, as well as a warm presence that went far beyond the limits of his professional activities. 

Among the large number of friendships that Gil managed to form in the community, the deep mutual friendship between François and Gil remains unique.

Here are some quotes from this week’s videoclip from Marie, Gil’s sister, and François.

François: I met Gil when he came to my services at the beginning of the 90’s.

Marie: It’s been over twenty years he’s known François. So he has done lots of internships with François.

François: We took care of maintenance and cleaning tasks, you know washing the floor, things like this. Washing windows.

Marie: And François’ role evolved to include offering Gil new challenges.

François: No matter what challenge we gave him, he was game. We got the sense that from the little boy he might have been at home, he was starting to build his own identity. He was beginning to realize that he could accomplish things. And that’s our mission – to help them learn and discover that they can be as good as anybody else. In their own way.

Marie: They became like brothers. A deep friendship blossomed. Gil adores François. François would phone and say, I’d like to take Gil out to a movie. I’d like to take Gil out to a hockey game.

François: I remember sometimes we’d take him to a hockey game to spend time with other adults. You know, to spoil him a little bit.

Marie: And my mother didn’t worry at all. When Gil went out with François it was like if he was leaving with one of us.

MonAmiGil-9-Inclusion-Friendship-En from L'Arche Canada on Vimeo. Music courtesy of Anne Contant.

Do you know of any other stories, like Gil and François’, in which a deep mutual friendship was formed between a person with an intellectual disability and someone who worked with them? The mission of the series “My Friend Gil” is to help these stories be shared. Write to us at gil.monami@gmail.com

Continue to follow the series to discover how François and his spouse temporarily “adopted” Gil while he was waiting for a place to become available in the community of L’Arche Agapè.

Don’t miss next week’s clip, with Gil showing off in front of the camera!


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