Continuing the Journey in Unity and Hope

From the words of Louis Pilotte, Annissette Sauvé, and Stephan Posner

We have been deeply moved by the outpouring of testimonies and articles written about our friend, brother, and founder, Jean Vanier since his death on May 7. We take comfort in being united with so many people who have been inspired by the life and legacy of this extraordinary man. We are also aware that there will be challenges on the road ahead (as there always have been) and that we will no longer have Jean here with us to face them. Here are words that will help us find the way ahead.

Words of Louis Pilotte, L’Arche Canada Leader

Before heading to France for the funeral of Jean Vanier, Louis Pilotte wrote the members of L’Arche in Canada:

Although Jean had withdrawn from L’Arche’s governance structures for many years, his presence remained a source of security and inspiration to many of us. He knew how to put words to an experience of transformation that still remains revolutionary today.

The death of the founder is always a very special time in the life of an organization. It can be a time of insecurity, division and fear. We all know that no one will replace Jean; no one can claim this charism. It is therefore up to each of us to assume some responsibility. Whether we are core members, young assistants, former assistants, Board members, relatives, friends, donors, each of us bears a share of responsibility to build unity, to be attentive to one another, to be attentive to signs and calls. Each of us has the responsibility to transmit the vision of L’Arche.

What struck me in the photos that have been circulating since Jean’s death is his smile and his gaze. It gave me the feeling of a happy and caring man. I call on each of us to be happy to be who we are, with our limits and our strengths, and to be attentive to each other.

Words of Annissette Sauvé, Friend of Jean

Jean was very nice to me. He invited me to his house to eat once a month with him and Odile. And it was good! They were good meals! Jean was very brave. And his life was precious. He was so gentle, so thoughtful... I was happy to know Jean, because he was good to me. At our home, Jean is no longer there. He is in heaven. But we are going to stay on this path – with what Jean has done. We’ll continue the journey, because it’s important for all of us.

Word of Stephan Posner, L’Arche International Leader

(From the simultaneous translation of Jean Vanier’s funeral celebration)

Jean’s departure really marks a new era. Referring to his role in L’Arche, Jean wrote the following: “People say that I am the ‘founder’ but at the end of the day, I was just the first to arrive.”

“The first to arrive,” that is a good definition of a founder. In many respects, Jean was much more than just the “first to arrive.” And yet, he’s pointing out an important truth. This truth is that even though the founder creates something original, something radically new that did not previously exist, a founder is “one among others.” Jean often said, “I am the messenger, and not the message. I am the witness, and not the testimony.”

And although Jean embodied, in the most astonishing way, the message and the testimony – to the point of being identified with both the message and the testimony – he also said that he spoke and acted as one who was inspired by something greater than himself.

In the same way, we in L’Arche, inspired by Jean, are inspired by this something greater. Fifty-five years ago, a few hundred metres from here, Jean founded L’Arche. Many others came to join him, and along with him, they were the founding generation. Along with him, they were the first to arrive.

I would like to say a special word of welcome to Gabriel and Anne-Emeline from the house of L’Hermitage. And I’d like to welcome them and greet them because they are among the last to arrive in the Trosly community. I would have liked to have them next to me, but there is not enough space here. But actually, the space I’m talking about is far bigger than the one we are in this room. Each of us who are the people of L’Arche spread throughout the world, as Jean leaves us, we are in a sense, all the latest to arrive, we are the successors.

We have the responsibility and the privilege of receiving the legacy of the founding generation that Jean is handing on to us, the responsibility and the privilege of receiving the messenger’s message, and of carrying this message and this legacy forward into the future. We are the successors, but it’s up to us now to clear new paths, to sing new songs. We are the heirs, yes, but it’s also up to us now to be founders in our own ways – founders who are both faithful and free.

The achievement of the founding generation, and Jean first of all, was to found L’Arche. The challenge for us who come afterwards, Jean’s successors and their successors is no less great. It is the challenge of extending L’Arche into the future, of receiving the message, of which Jean was the messenger, and carrying it forward, living the mission well.

Jean, you were the first to arrive. We who are here, we your successors, we say thank you.

Read also the many testimonies in the Book of Condolence:

L’Arche International also has a page of messages:

To view Jean Vanier’s funeral mass, visit:


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: