Blog

Measuring Impact in the Movement for Inclusion

By Ian Pellerin, Jenn Power and John Rietschlin

L’Arche Canada participated in the 9th annual Federal Policy Forum on Inclusion in Ottawa on December 3, 2018. It was hosted by the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL) and People First of Canada (PFC), in collaboration with the Office for Disability Issues, Employment and Social Development Canada. This year’s theme was Inclusion: What Gets Measured Gets Done.

Above: L’Arche delegates John Rietschlin, Jenn Power, Ian Pellerin, Tricia Scott, Lori Vaanholt, and Louis Pilotte at the Policy Forum

Listening first to Ian’s experience

Ian Pellerin came to Ottawa “to talk to people about my life and ask them some questions.” But there wasn’t a lot of time for that during the policy forum. He found the sessions “too long, and kind of boring.” When asked what they were about, he said that they were “hard to understand.” (The same could be said about this article…) Clearly, there’s work to be done to make the Inclusion movement and policy development more accessible and inclusive.

Ian was grateful for the times during his trip to Ottawa when he was able “to shake hands, to introduce myself, to tell them where I’m from. And I asked their names and where they were from, too.” When not wearing his suit, Ian wore his L’Arche hoodie proudly. He pointed to the logo and asked people, “Have you heard of L’Arche?” Taxi drivers, flight attendants, politicians, all learned about welcome and friendship from Ian.

Ian says his hope for Canadians with disabilities is “to have good friends, a good job, maybe a girlfriend or a boyfriend. And time to relax and sleep in on the weekends!” They sound like pretty good dreams, ones that federal policymakers need to hear.

Left: Ian Pellerin with Minister Qualtrough

The Importance of this Policy Forum

There are few places that bring together people with intellectual disabilities, their families, supporters, and other advocates with federal policymakers and researchers. The Federal Policy Forum is one of these. Being in the room created opportunities to talk to the people who are influencing decisions around how the federal government will spend millions of dollars to support inclusion. L'Arche has something to say here and we have lots to learn, but this will only happen if we are present.

The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility attended this year. She has been a champion in advancing the rights of persons with disabilities and in the creation of Canada’s first federal accessibility legislation. In her opening remarks, Minister Qualtrough advanced the self-advocates’ refrain, “Rather than nothing about us without us, how about nothing without us, because everything is about us!”

The day featured four panels on national priorities. Each panel included a self-advocate (a person with a disability) and a family member along with government representatives and disability advocates. The self-advocates and family members talked about the importance of being known and participating in their local community. They told stories of when they were left out, and stories of when they were included and what a difference this made in their lives. Read also the article on CACL’s site.

In L’Arche, we know how to create community, to nurture people’s gifts, and help them share those gifts with the world. How can we articulate what we know and share it with others? And we have so much to learn. As we open our doors to share our experience, how can we invite others to share what they know: about inclusive design, government policy and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the current research? This is what it means, after all, to be a learning culture.

The importance of measuring impact

Measuring impact is a major trend of government policy and philanthropy. In L’Arche, we’ve tended to stay far away from anything that feels like reducing people to numbers. We are not alone in this – as several presenters at the Forum made clear. Here again, we have something to contribute if we talk to experts who are developing multi-dimensional approaches to measurement. It’s clear that stories that complement the numbers are a powerful way to demonstrate impact. We love to tell stories in L’Arche, yet we need to find ways to share them with researchers.

Many questions remain. How are we defining this “inclusion” that we propose to measure? It is numbers of jobs created for person with disabilities, or kids in “regular” classrooms, ramps built, or university admissions? These can be dangerous measurements full of value judgements, reducing people to value for money. What about collecting stories of people whose lives have value and who feel welcomed as part of their community? Folks who are contributors to their church community or their family? How do we capture – and value – this data? And who is doing the measuring? People with intellectual disabilities likely won’t be, and that’s another gap for sure.

Challenges and Opportunities

L'Arche needs to develop confidence and competence in speaking to governments and to other organizations about the policies that support inclusion. We recognize that outreach is an important part of our mission, but we tend to equate it with presentations to church groups and in school classrooms. Outreach needs to include reaching out to elected officials, other organizations, and the disability policy community – both to speak and to listen.

Left: Accessibility legislation session in Toronto

How can we talk about complex matters – like legislative policy – in a way that provides opportunities for meaningful inclusion and input from a diversity of people with and without disabilities? The disability community can fall into the same trap as mainstream society – designing processes that are not accessible for many people with intellectual disabilities. Inclusive design means planning the process from the beginning to include people marginalized because they don’t use verbal communications or have intensive medical or other support needs. Representation matters.

And are we able to look beyond the boundaries of our own organizations and communities to see the common mission we share? How can we work together in a way that increases our impact and amplifies the voices of persons with intellectual disabilities in Canada?

If we look over the past fifty years, Canadians with disabilities and Canadian society have come a long way. But there are always new challenges as society, technology, and institutions continue to change. Learning to use policy and regulations from the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) or the new federal accessibility legislation is one way that we can contribute to advancing inclusion. Changing the world one heart at a time certainly, but also at the level of the systems and structures that shape our lives.


Taking our place in the inclusion movement

It is an important time for the accessibility and inclusion movement in Canada and the world, and L’Arche Canada is developing our capacity to take our place.

Jean Vanier: Remembering an Icon, Not an Idol

Jean was uncomfortable (being called a saint) if a saint was a model of inaccessible perfection alone on a pedestal, but if the word was used as a member of the Christian community, he was happy to be part of the community of saints, living and dead.

Silent encounter with the “man who repairs women”

Denis Mukwege begs us empathetically to remain attentive, to listen deeply to what is inherent in our human condition: our sensitivity and vulnerability.

Companions on the Journey: Part Two

The road of transformation has its breakthrough moments, yet it takes many twists and turns along the way. That’s why we need to nourish ourselves and the fellowship we share.

Companions on the Journey: Part One

John and Greg talk about how their friendship took root and has grown through mutual support for over thirty years.

Creative Connections

Creative Connections is a space for making art with persons with intellectual disabilities. It promotes belonging, diversity, and inclusion while extending the impact of L’Arche in the city of Saint John, New Brunswick.

Continuing the Journey in Unity and Hope

With people around the world, the family of L’Arche mourned the death and celebrated the life of our founder, Jean Vanier. We are called to stay on his path.

L’Arche Joliette’s Zoom Media

This team of creators, designers and technicians offers full sound, image and video services to make their collaborators shine!

The important work of the Vanier Institute of the Family is a call to L’Arche

Today, L’Arche’s relationship with families is changing as we support more persons with disabilities living with their families and welcome them and their family members into our community life.

Sage and Time

Making community art unleashes creativity and builds bridges between seniors and the wider Sudbury community.

Inclusion Begins With Me

A conference on inclusion organized by L’Arche Agapè was an occasion to deepen understanding and recognize that “change will be achieved by breaking down barriers and creating awareness among people”.

Birds Make Me Think About Freedom

A play inspired by the stories of persons institutionalized for having intellectual disabilities, their families, and friends.

Journey to the Greatest Gift

In a Gala celebration, L’Arche Daybreak celebrated 50 years of creating the Beloved Community, discovering the sacred in the ordinary stuff of daily life – albeit with magic and space travel thrown in.

From Presence to Citizenship to Community

In order to promote meaningful inclusion, we need to build communities that welcome the gifts and contributions of all their members.

Give People their Place

As we celebrate the 50th of L’Arche in Canada, we’re amplifying the voices of persons with lived experience, sharing insights on creating belonging, diversity and inclusion in Canada.

Building a model of Inclusive Housing in Elmira, Ontario

Over the past decade, L’Arche has been connecting with the Elmira Developmental Support Corporation to learn how they are building “supportive affordable housing” for persons with intellectual disabilities, and to share our vision and experience.

Building Community through Art Discovering our Creative Potential

Hearts and Hands, the creative arts space of L’Arche Antigonish, is promoting creative expression, belonging, and inclusion in Nova Scotia through community arts.

Building Inclusive Housing

Innovative housing options that promote choice, autonomy, and inclusion are changing the landscape of disability supports in Canada and offer L’Arche an opportunity for greater impact.

What belonging, diversity, and inclusion mean to me

L’Arche Canada is launching an online reflection to Celebrate the Gift of belonging, diversity, and inclusion by listening to the voices of persons with lived-experience and those who share life with them.

An Innovative Model of Life-Sharing in the Comox Valley

Innovative housing options that promote choice, autonomy, and inclusion are changing the landscape of disability supports in Canada. The Vanier Suites of L’Arche Comox Valley are a new model of shared living renewing the vision of L’Arche.

Presenting… Ross!

Now we’re delighted to introduce you to Ross Moncrieff, the second of the two individuals with intellectual disabilities selected for a session with a professional photographer.

Measuring Impact in the Movement for Inclusion

L’Arche delegates reflect on their experience and learning from the December 3rd Federal Policy Forum on Inclusion titled “What Gets Measured Gets Done.”

“Painting is the song of the heart”

This artwork embodies the innate human desire to create a personal, physical mark which holds our fragile identity in the strength of an intentional creative gesture.

Presenting… Tiana!

Our friend Gil invited us to think about the importance of being “in the camera,” and inspired us to invite others to take their turn. We are delighted to introduce you to Tiana!

Community arts create a world where everyone is valued and belongs

The community arts movement and organizations like Art Hives build stronger communities and a more human society. L’Arche celebrates the unique gifts of artists and the community creative spaces where they thrive.

Celebrate the Gift

In October 2019, we will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of L’Arche Daybreak and of L’Arche In Canada. We will take time in the next 12 months to share our stories in many creative ways. L’Arche Canada will put a spotlight on the ways our vision and values respond to our world today, celebrating the gifts of belonging, diversity, and inclusion.

L’Arche Tova Café promotes Belonging and Inclusion in Winnipeg

Social purpose businesses or enterprises focused on food and hospitality are vibrant and innovative ways to promote belonging and inclusion. For over 6 years, L’Arche Tova Café has led the way not only for the city of Winnipeg, but also for L’Arche in Canada.

Storytelling “with”

L’Arche storytelling puts belonging, diversity, and inclusion at the centre to help us “imagine the world differently.”

Where is happiness, where is it…?

Happiness is a trendy topic. There are as many definitions of happiness as there are individuals, yet never has a civilization developed such precise models and ideas of what happiness should be.

Institutional life – a bit of context

Raphael Amato offers some background on the role of institutions in the 20th century

Listening to and amplifying the voices of marginalized people

Each message pays tribute first to a person’s story, highlighting and sharing the richness and diversity of these heartfelt testimonies.

L’Arche International Family Day

The first Saturday of October is L’Arche International Family Day. Discover the gift of L’Arche around the world and celebrate our solidarity with one another.

Setting our course for the next 50 years

Looking forward to an era where L’Arche people with and without disabilities join with others of like spirit to advocate and change society – making it more inclusive for everyone.

L’Arche London’s Gathering Place

One example of the increased impact L’Arche communities are having across Canada

Celebrating Jean Vanier at 90

Jean Vanier is 90. L’Arche in Canada extends sincere gratitude and best wishes to our founder, guide, and companion in the journey, our friend Jean.

Investing in Justice for Institutional Survivors

Patricia Seth, an institutional survivor, put it this way, “It was like living in a prison. The only thing is, we didn't know when we would even get out.” Inspired by the founding story of L’Arche, L’Arche in Ontario is engaging in Investing in Justice, a series of projects promoting healing and belonging, truth and reconciliation for survivors.

L’Arche Montérégie Art Workshop “Le Pot-en-ciel”

Le Pot-en-ciel is an art workshop that would not be if it weren’t for one member of L’Arche Montérégie who dreamed of a place where he and fellow artists could draw and paint together in a spirit of sharing and mutual teaching. Photography by Jonathan Boulet-Groulx.

Summer in the Forest: One L’Arche Perspective

Summer in the Forest is an extraordinary film – a feature-length documentary by British filmmaker Randal Wright beautifully shot and scored. The subjects of the film are Jean Vanier and several members of his community of L’Arche Trosly in France and of the L’Arche community in Bethlehem. (Vanier speaks in English with dialogue in French and Arabic with English subtitles.)

Holocaust Education Week: Remembering Aktion T4, the Nazi Euthanasia Program

A few years ago, I went with Mel Kirzner, a man with an intellectual disability who welcomed me to L’Arche in 1985, to visit the Maxwell and Ruth Leroy Holocaust Remembrance Garden at the Reena Community Residence in Vaughan.

Social Inclusion Cannot Exist without True Community and Friendship

L’Arche Canada is participating in a series of round tables on the theme of “Living Together” – sharing life with and including persons who are vulnerable and marginalized in the heart of our communities.

L’Arche Canada’s monthly e-mail review of news, stories, and commentary about what is happening in L’Arche, with our partners, and within Canadian society.