News and Stories

Celebrate the Gift gathering

Something extraordinary is happening in Antigonish this summer and you’re invited. From August 5 to 9, a diverse group of persons with disabilities, family, friends, and allies will gather for “Celebrate the Gift – Conversations on Community, Inclusion, and Disability,” hosted by the L’Arche Atlantic Region.

For over 50 years, Jean Vanier was a leader in engaging cultures around the world with the L’Arche vision and experience of in creating friendships across differences of background and ability, building communities of belonging where all are welcome, and working with others to build just and inclusive societies. L’Arche Atlantic region is continuing on that road, bringing L’Arche to new places and new relationships.

Celebrate the Gift promises to be an amazing gathering to learn together, celebrate, and create friendships and community. Keynote speakers include:

Jutta Treviranus is the Director of the Inclusive Design Research Centre (IDRC) and professor in the Faculty of Design at OCAD University in Toronto. She has worked to make sure that new technologies and how they are used, do not exclude, ignore, or disadvantage people that find themselves at the margins. She demonstrates how this is good for everyone in our society.

Michael Joseph McDonald is an author and the filmmaker behind L’Arche International’s docu-series, As I Am. Over the years, Michael has had the fortune of living alongside people with intellectual disabilities in 19 countries, and he worked as a house assistant in L’Arche France and L’Arche Kenya.

Pamela Cushing, PhD, is a professor at King’s University College at Western University in London, Ontario, and the founder and Director of the Disability Studies program. Along with a team from the Jean Vanier Association, she is founding the Jean Vanier Research Centre beginning with an academic symposium this summer on Jean Vanier’s philosophy.

Here’s what’s happening in their own words

Join us at St. Francis Xavier University as we mark the 50th anniversary of L’Arche in Canada with a week of learning and celebration. The theme of our anniversary year is “Celebrate The Gift” – and that’s just what we plan to do!

We are bringing together a diverse group of participants – leaders and scholars in the disability field, individuals with disabilities, caregivers, educators, family members, and others passionate about building inclusive communities. We will learn, celebrate, and share our ideas and experiences on the themes of inclusion, diversity, community, and social change.

The week includes presentations from leaders in the disability field, sessions by academics and self-advocates, collaborative art, small group storytelling sessions, experience in the local Celtic culture, and so much more! Each evening will feature a public event – a evening of short films, an open mic and disability market, and a traditional East Coast ceilidh.

A model of inclusion

This week has something for everyone, and everyone is welcome! Facilitation is by people with and without intellectual disabilities, in keeping with the L’Arche values of relationship and inclusion. Plenary sessions will include ASL interpretation, simultaneous graphic interpretation, and plain language handouts. Sessions will include a mix of hands-on, experiential sessions, academic presentations, storytelling, and open spaces for relationship building and networking.

Don’t miss it!

“Celebrate the Gift” is an event not to be missed! Come for one day, or the whole week, and join us as we CELEBRATE THE GIFT of community, relationship, and inclusion. Let’s amplify the voices and contributions of people who are often marginalized as we integrate the academic and first-person experience of disability.

All the details are at


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