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.

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.

Jean Vanier Research Centre at King’s University College UWO

King’s University College at Western University has announced the creation of the new Jean Vanier Research Centre under the direction of our good friend, Dr Pamela Cushing.

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.

Le Sacrement de la Tendresse (the Sacrament of Tenderness) a new film about Jean Vanier

One of the film’s assets is the enthusiasm of the director, whose strength of conviction is real.

Letter from Jean, October 2018

“90 years old! My God, I can scarcely believe it. I have such a desire to shout out my thanks!”

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.”

Letter from Jean, May 2018

“Every day, I take a walk in my little garden, with my eyes looking down because I have to be careful where I walk: this means I notice the primroses.”

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

Summer in the Forest is coming to Canada

“Summer in the Forest is an extraordinarily tender documentary that asks what it means to be human. Here, even the most gentle scenes raise mighty questions.” (New York Times)

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.

Jean Vanier Interview on CNN

Christiane Amanpour interviews Jean Vanier following the release of Summer in the Forest

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:

L’Arche Canada response to Bill C-14’s

In response to the Supreme Court’s ruling on Physician-Assisted Dying, and as the Federal Government works on drafting legislation on this issue, L’Arche in Canada has re-committed itself to providing the best possible supports for the people with intellectual disabilities in our communities, both in life and as they approach death.

Jean Vanier: Logician of the Heart

An excellent new book on Jean Vanier by Michael W. Higgins is available from Novalis.