Growing as we Learn: The L’Arche Canada Growth Initiative

Posted 2018-03-01

“A learning organization is an organization skilled at creating, acquiring, and transferring knowledge, and at modifying its behavior to reflect new knowledge and insights.” – Harvard Business Review

The L’Arche Canada Growth Initiative is helping L’Arche in Canada to grow – not only in the number of persons supported and the variety of ways in which we share life with them, but also in the ways we discern where we are called to grow and how we go about it.

As in all our priority areas, Growth is helping L’Arche in Canada to become intentional about being a “learning organization” that follows these practices (also from HBR):

  1. Systematic problem solving,
  2. Experimentation with new approaches,
  3. Learning from their own experience and past history, learning from the experiences and best practices of others,
  4. Transferring knowledge quickly and efficiently throughout the organization.

Here are some testimonies of how the Growth Initiative is transforming our communities and the national organization into a learning organization.

L’Arche Sudbury Growth Narrative

By Jen McCauley

Over the years, L’Arche Sudbury has been called to grow many times, usually responding to the needs of our members. In the past year, Lori Vaanholt from the L’Arche Canada Growth Initiative has led our community in a wonderful process of reflecting, of re-walking the path that has brought us to today. As we developed our Growth Narrative, we remembered the spirit of our own founding when most people were young with few physical needs, but with other challenges. Today, we have many members who are aging and that impacts how we live the mission.

Group in Sudbury

We are also inspired by hearing the ways L’Arche is being lived around the Federation; the bricks and mortar of the traditional L’Arche “Foyer” or home, is not the only way to share life and live the mission. With change once again in front of us, we desire to maintain all that has made us who we are, while recognizing that we need to evolve. The community has come to a place where we can envision something different for our community.

Greg Bechard, a housing consultant, spent time in our community to ensure that all members have had their voices heard. He challenged us to think about what our non-negotiables are and how we can include those in our plans going forward. He gave us options to consider and the ability to think outside of ourselves. Greg’s credibility as a leader in the Developmental Services sector, held a lot of weight. People could think about new ways of doing things. There was “buy-in” and his recommendations were embraced.

From this reflection, we developed a Strategic Plan that our community will be able to reference over the next four years to see where we are achieving our goals and where we need to put more energy. For L’Arche Sudbury, this has been the opportunity for “hearing the cry” like Jean Vanier did in founding L’Arche; we are listening and responding to the needs and dreams of people today.

L’Arche Beloeil Innovative Employment Supports

By Marie Frechette

Our development project originated with a critical need among core members in our community rather than with a development need. The reorientation of the CRDI’s mission (Rehabilitation Center for Intellectual Disabilities) lead to loss of employment and internships for many people in our community. The loss of financial compensation for work done by core members was also an important point to consider as part of our development project. We wanted people to receive appropriate financial recognition for their work.

I remember an assistant meeting in September 2015 where we unanimously decided to emphasize, through workshops, our people’s gifts and motivation to work. Our maintenance committee started back then. The Pot-en-Ciel had been created in a similar way the previous year.

Workshop in Beloeil

At first, we didn’t have a specific project in mind – ideas of workshops were developed out of individual gifts and interests and the community’s needs. The garden quickly became a pivotal point in the development project. The project has a strong unifying power in the L’Arche Beloeil community as well as in the broader community. It is a very important key element.

The project’s immediate impact on the community is with core members. We see the effect on people’s well-being when they are offered significant work along with the appropriate support. Financial compensation started in January 2017 and we can already see that it makes a big difference for many people.

The assistants involved in our workshops are very motivated by the workshop projects and proud to contribute to this new development for L’Arche Beloeil. Our community celebrated its 35th anniversary in November 2016. Today we feel that we are experiencing a new founding that is life-giving, unifying and offers us another way to live the mission of L’Arche.

Our project has so far brought us a number of financial, media and human partnerships. We have a growing list of people interested in participating in the garden project (volunteers), groups from the agricultural sector are involved – they are new partners for us. One of the positive impacts is that through these partnerships, the gifts of people with an intellectual disability are at the forefront.

As with Pot-en-Ciel, we wish to welcome workers living outside L’Arche through service agreements with the social affairs network. The arrival of new artists in the creative arts workshop allowed new people to join L’Arche Beloeil in a different way and gave new impetus to Pot-en-Ciel. We hope to do the same with our new workshops thus giving them a broader reach.

Another desired impact relates to worker compensation, as we hope to find a legal solution that would allow other employers to offer compensation to persons with an intellectual disability working in their company. We believe that every working person should receive compensation. Volunteering should be freely agreed to, but the issue is that currently it is imposed on people.

Innovation through Listening in Comox Valley

By Christine Monier

The development process for the Front Desk project happened in a new way for L’Arche Comox Valley (LCV). We had set up several committees related to the I Belong Centre, including an Outreach Centre Visioning committee and the Vanier Suites Residential committee. From the Outreach Centre Visioning committee, emerged the desire to draw more people in, to welcome new individuals. For this, they felt the need for a welcoming presence, a person who would physically embody the welcome the I Belong Centre wanted to extend by greeting, smiling, and being a gracious host to program participants, volunteers and anyone who happened to walk in the door.

The Vanier Suites Residential committee, which included parents of prospective tenants of the Vanier Suites, identified the difficulty they had in accessing the resources they needed – in this case, housing – for the individuals in their care. Their voices at the table were new and effectively broadened the discussion of how LCV could look beyond its own community and address new challenges. This need resonated with the team in our office, where we were hearing from parents and caregivers struggling to navigate the Ministry system and finding themselves increasingly frustrated. Information flow throughout the system was poor.

By looking for the common threads in the work the various committees were doing, we were able to generate a new role that could allow L’Arche Comox Valley to be more outward-looking, more oriented to the needs of our broader community. Combining the posture of hospitality with ideas of advocacy, the Front Desk position was born.

L’Arche London: Innovation through Sharing Learning

By Marietta Drost

It has been a wonderful experience to be part of the growth process with L’Arche Canada. We see the impact of sharing our best practices and learning from the insights and examples of growth within other communities. We are much stronger when we work together sharing our unique community gifts and ideas as a large national body instead of working independently as a sole community.

An example of this would be the environmental scan that an occupational therapist intern did for our community last summer. It had huge impact on our planning as we develop our day programming in our new Gathering Space. The L’Arche Canada growth team shared this insight with other communities in Canada to help them develop their own environmental scans. Sharing our successes as a national body helps us shift our thinking and grow in new ways. It also allows us to be efficient in our practices instead of each community re-creating the wheel. It is exciting to work together and learn from one another.

Having the support and funds to grow our arts program is huge for our community! Providing an art educator to design and coordinate a much richer and meaningful art program in our new Gathering Place will have a huge impact on the quality of programming that we can offer our core members and new day program participants from the wider community. The art educator will be able to develop the therapeutic and creative aspects of the program, deepen our existing connections and widen our circle with new and exciting partnerships in the London community. The art created in our program will also allow us to start looking at new social enterprise opportunities for our community.

Laurence Lendormy, new Projects Coordinator- Innovation and Impact

L’Arche Canada is pleased to announce the appointment of Laurence Ledormy to the role of Project Coordinator – Innovation and Impact

Luc Héon, new Executive Assistant at L'Arche Canada

L'Arche Canada is pleased to announce the appointment of Luc Héon as Executive Assistant.

Hollee Card new community leader of L'Arche Comox Valley

We are very happy to announce that Hollee Card has accepted the role of Community Leader for L’Arche Comox Valley. She plans to begin her transition into the role by mid June, soon after moving to the valley.

L'Arche International announces findings of Independent Inquiry

Today, the leaders of L’Arche International sent a letter to the Federation of L’Arche Communities, which operates in 38 countries worldwide, publishing the results of an inquiry that had commissioned from an independent organization. The inquiry included testimony implicating its founder, Jean Vanier, and his historical link to Father Thomas Philippe, who he thought of as his spiritual father.

L’Arche Canada is please to welcome Stéfan Carrier as our new Immigration Administrator

In his own terms: "During my 25 years at the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB), I had many opportunities as Business Analyst and Policy Advisor, to reference the immigration and refugee protection act, regulation and rules.

Christine Monier nominated Western Canada Regional Leader

n December, I was delighted to be with the L’Arche Western Canada Regional Assembly as they enthusiastically confirmed the new Western Canada Regional Mandate. The Mandate Process incorporated and built upon the Impactand Strategic Clarity process that we have collectively been engaged with.

Nomination of Jeff Gilbreath as Ontario Regional Leader

The Mandate and Selection Committee for the Ontario Region, chaired by Jenn Power, is at the end of its mission. The committee unanimously recommended the appointment of Jeff Gilbreath as Regional Leader for the next 4 years, a recommendation that I confirmed, and that Jeff enthusiastically accepted.

Announcement - L'Arche North Bay

L’Arche Canada acknowledges with sadness that the L’Arche North Bay Board of Directors has determined that the current state of L’Arche North Bay is unsustainable and not viable into the future. As a result of this decision, the Board has resolved to cease operations and dissolve the corporation.

Presenting Michael McDonald, new Communications Coordinator for L’Arche Canada

We are very pleased to announce that after a thorough search, interview and selection process, Michael McDonald has been hired as the Communications Coordinator for L’Arche Canada.

Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act, receives Royal Assent

The Accessible Canada Act is now law. The government and the disabilities community have lots to do together to make it effective.

Celebrate the Gift gathering

Celebrate the Gift, August 5-9, 2019, promises to be an amazing gathering to learn together, celebrate, and create friendships and community.

Announcing a major investment in L’Arche Canada

The Social Development Partnerships Program – Disability Issues – Grant

Program on the abuse of religious women in the Church airs in Canada

L’Arche Canada reiterates our deep compassion for the victims of abuse and our commitment to a zero-tolerance policy on sexual harassment and abuse.

L’Arche Greater Vancouver launches ‘We All Belong’ campaign

The $30 million project to build a fully-accessible, three-story building is the organization’s most ambitious dream in its 45-year history.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities visits Canada

Ms Devandas Aguilar was invited by the Government of Canada and visited 5 cities across Canada looking at themes related to the articles of the CRPD.

Jordan Hart introduces “L’Arche Sundays” to his 100-day busking challenge

“I have never learned how to love more purely and profoundly than through people with intellectual disabilities.”

Dr Pamela Cushing, friend of L’Arche, to receive Tanis Doe Award

This award honours an individual who dares to “speak the unspeakable” in advancing the study and culture of disability, and who has enriched through research, teaching, or activism the lives of Canadians with disabilities.

Accidental Friends: Stories from My Life in Community

This book by Beth Porter, long-time member of L’Arche Daybreak, will be available soon in North America.

Families in Canada Conference 2019

The Vanier Institute of the Family held the Families in Canada Conference 2019, gathering leaders to deepen understanding of family diversity, expedite research to practise and enhance family well-being.

Commemorating the 10th Anniversary of the Closure of the Institutions in Ontario

Flying to Freedom was presented by institutional survivors, People First of Ontario, the Council of Community Living Ontario, Community Living Ontario, the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre, and L’Arche Toronto.

Zoom Media produces the official video for the Quebec week of intellectual disabilities 2019

It was Zoom Media’s inclusive team that prepared the content, filmed the video clip and edited it, accompanied by the Approprimage team.

Conference on love and inclusion

L’Arche Agapè will host a public conference on inclusion at the Université du Québec en Outaouais on March 21, 2019.

Federal Budget continues Ready, Willing, and Able Across Canada

“This investment allows RWA to continue working toward the vision of an inclusive and effective labour market with an employment rate for people with intellectual disabilities and ASD on par with the national average.”

Québec Recruitment Campaign

New recruitment video online!

BROKEN: Institutions, Families, and the Construction Intellectual Disability

A new book by Madeline Burghardt, long-time member and former assistant of L’Arche Toronto and L’Arche Daybreak.

Mon Ami Gil returns!

Following the success of Mon Ami Gil in the spring of 2018, a new series of short videos will delve more deeply into the story of Gil Frois – how he came to be the man he is today, sharing his life and gifts within L’Arche Agapè in Gatineau, QC, and in the other places where he belongs in the wider community.

Michael McDonald Speaking Tour

In four L’Arche communities in Alberta and Saskatchewan in the next two weeks

Bringing the VPS into 2019

From the Vulnerable Persons Secretariat

L’Arche Tova Café in the News

L’Arche Tova Café is featured in a review of 27 cafes that are social purpose businesses employing persons with disabilities across Canada.

L’Arche Beloeil becomes L’Arche Montérégie

On December 10, L’Arche Beloeil announced that it was becoming L’Arche Montérégie. The choice to make this big change was made to educate people across the region about their cause.

Measuring the Impact of Federal Legislation to Promote Inclusion

On December 3, the International Day of Person with Disabilities, L’Arche Canada participated in the 9th annual Federal Policy Forum on Inclusion hosted by the Canadian Association of Community Living and People First of Canada.

Canada accedes to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Accession to the Optional Protocol means that Canadians will have additional recourse to make a complaint to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, if they believe their rights under the Convention have been violated.

I Believe in You

“This book brings something new and surprising (...) I hope each reader can discover in a new way what it means to be human.” – Jean Vanier, from the foreword

Accessible Canada Act passed third reading

L’Arche Canada has joined the Federal Accessibility Legislation Alliance (FALA) and supports its recommended changes.

Louis Pilotte, new National Leader

“From my very first days in L’Arche, I was convinced that I was living an experience that was part of a project for society, part of a vision of the world.”

New Community Leaders in Saint John and Wolfville

… and celebrating Homefires Community Leader Ingrid Blais

Second Reading for Accessible Canada Act

The Accessible Canada Act (ACA) legislation to ensure a barrier-free Canada

L’Arche Canada Foundation’s Fall 2018 Impact Bulletin

Top Story: Support for L’Arche Lithuania

Canada’s Medical Assistance in Dying Regulations Fall Short

September 6, 2018 – L’Arche Canada supports the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL) and the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) in urging the federal government to strengthen the system of monitoring Medical Assistance in Dying.

A new Community Leader for L’Arche Daybreak

L’Arche Canada and the Board of Directors present Trish Glennon, as the new Community Leader for L’Arche Daybreak

L’Arche Saskatoon’s 10th Anniversary video is amazing!

To celebrate their first ten years, L’Arche Saskatoon produced a wonderful 8-min video on “What is community?”

Third Interim Report on Medical Assistance in Dying in Canada

The Government of Canada has released the third Interim Report on Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) in Canada (July 1 to December 31, 2017)

Minister Duncan introduces the proposed Accessible Canada Act

June 20, 2018 – This historic legislation would enable the Government of Canada to take a proactive approach to end systemic discrimination of people with disabilities.

L’Arche Canada Newsletter Summer 2018

“Community is built as we become interdependent, humbly recognizing and welcoming our need of one another.”

L’Arche Canada Foundation’s Spring 2018 Impact Bulletin

Top Story: L’Arche Toronto’s Trying It On For Size (TIFS) project for young people with intellectual disabilities

The Courage to Listen and Speak Out

As part of the campaign on fundamental values, the L’Arche Canada communications team recently published an online, illustrated account of a person who has lived through abuse. In very simple words, the account expresses a universal reality, the truth that not being heard is a source of immense suffering.

First Nations – The Courage to Meet Face to Face

At L’Arche, we are all experimenting with what it means to find “the courage to truly meet difference.” We are on this journey whether we’re encountering a new person, or group, or any culture other than our own.

“Nineteen Paper Cranes”, a Film in Homage to the victims of Sagamihara, Japan

L’Arche International is launching the 9th film in its #AsIAm web series, filmed at L’Arche in Japan, in homage to the 19 victims of the Sagamihara massacre.

Growing as we Learn: The L’Arche Canada Growth Initiative

“A learning organization is an organization skilled at creating, acquiring, and transferring knowledge, and at modifying its behavior to reflect new knowledge and insights.” – Harvard Business Review

Leadership Spring Trainings take off

The L’Arche Canada leadership development has entered a major new phase. After years introducing a model based on the core values of L’Arche and tools for reviews and team building, a comprehensive formation and training program – through over 100 online training modules – is being delivered across the country.

Communicating the Work of Outreach and Communications

It has been a challenging year of transition in the L’Arche Canada Outreach and Communications team and its work. As we move forward, new initiatives and new partnerships are emerging that promise increased impact in this important work.

Contributing Our Voices

On February 8, members of L’Arche attended an “in person” session of the accessibility consultation, as several L’Arche folk from other communities had done in their cities.

Meeting with the Minister

On April 6, 2017, representatives of L’Arche Canada met with the Hon. Qualtrough, Minister of Sports and Persons with Disabilities, to share our hopes and concerns – and express our gratitude and support – for new federal, accessibility legislation.

Revelations of Abuse in Trosly, France

In a letter dated March 24, 2015, the Leaders of L’Arche International informed the communities of L’Arche around the world of the results of a canonical (Church) inquiry into accounts of sexual abuse by Père Thomas Philippe who was involved in the beginnings of the first community of L’Arche in Trosly. (Père Thomas died in 1993 so there was no trial.)

Love at Second Sight

AboutFace, an organization providing supports to individuals with facial differences and their families, as well as public awareness and education to increase understanding and acceptance, recently hosted the Toronto premiere of this powerful film that transforms attitudes about appearance and encourages students to accept themselves and others. It’s about difference and belonging, judgment and inclusion.

What does an Accessible Canada mean to you?

The Government of Canada has launched a consultation process that will be open until February 2017. Canadians are encouraged to participate in the consultation by visiting:

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