Our Abuse Prevention Policy

Our commitment to respect all individuals, to prevent abuse, discrimination and harassment, and to provide support and intervention when required.

Day after day the news continues to remind us of abusive and violent situations, often targeted toward people with intellectual disabilities. Although unfortunately, there are many other victims, this population certainly constitutes some of our most vulnerable and at risk.

The disregard for people’s rights affects families and loved ones as much as it affects the victims themselves. Those who support people with intellectual disabilities are living under major pressure and coping with challenging conditions. In 2016, the Ontario Ombudsman report on services for adults with an intellectual disability 1 illustrates these very difficulties. Similar facts regarding health and social services 2 have also been noted by the Quebec Ombudsman. Sadly, these are just a few of many examples. More and more the issues of abuse, violence and discrimination are emerging from these reports. Going forward, the Canadian Association of Community Living has declared the respect of rights to be a major concern for its future focus 3. L’Association du Québec pour l’intégration sociale [Quebec Association for Social Integration] even developed its own website devoted to this theme 4. Other provincial associations involved in defending human rights are also very concerned.

Furthermore, it is becoming increasingly evident that home and work settings provide a space where caregivers and volunteers can either thrive or suffer. This has a major impact on the quality of life and services. Healthy spaces rely on management practices based on respect, equality, work-life balance, reducing sources of stress and violence, eliminating discrimination, promoting autonomy, growth and training opportunities and organizational justice, whatever this may require. A commitment to maintaining these priorities is essential.

In accordance with its identity and mission, L’Arche Canada as an organization is committed to transforming people’s lives, transforming our society, and making a significant contribution to creating a more inclusive society. As a movement, L’Arche is devoted to promoting the respect and protection of all people. Here in lies the purpose and meaning of this web page. 

Specifically, what have we accomplished so far and what are we doing?

Several explicit actions are either already in place or else the necessary initiatives are in progress.

Considering the significant degree of vulnerability experienced by these people and/or by people in vulnerable situations, several years ago, we implemented a number of initiatives to specifically address the issue of abuse. Adopted in June of 2008 and revised in June of 2015, the Guiding Principles for the Establishment and Review of Abuse Policies states:

Ten communities provided their abuse policies for review by the legal affairs committee in the Spring of 2006.  The purpose of the review was to assist communities in dealing with the difficult area of abuse.  After presenting this at the L'Arche Canada Board meeting September 2007, useful input was received by the committee.  Because this input was not part of the original review it will be prefaced with the word "input" where it appears in this report.

In 2014 the L’Arche Canada Risk Management Committee reviewed these guidelines and proposed a revised version to the L’Arche Canada Board that was adopted in June 2015. These up-dated guidelines for the establishment and review of abuse policies provide a framework to communities which allows them to ensure that their abuse policies are up to date.

The second section points to the reflection that led to important decisions:

Communities struggled in various ways with this.  Some communities had separate policies for sexual, physical and psychological abuse, but the policies' contents were identical. Some communities had detailed definitions, but then failed to use a general term like "abuse" throughout the body of the policy, limiting the application of the policy, unfortunately, to the term used.  Some communities included a positive duty to protect, (which this committee supports) but made it too onerous, by using words like "ensure" rather than "strive" or actually have a failure to protect to be itself abuse. (considering the consequences in the policy for a finding of abuse, one must be careful of this leap).

Recommendations:  It is possible to include physical, sexual, psychological and neglect abuse into one policy, but there will have to be discretion in the leadership in the investigation of the allegations.  Every allegation may not demand a full investigation.  Because of the heightened concern around sexual abuse, separate provisions to guide witnesses and leadership in responding to these allegations may be necessary. Separate policies may make this easier to address reporting, but there is a lot of overlap.  (eg. physical abuse [causing injury], psychological abuse of a repetitive nature, [or causing harm], and sexual abuse [at any level] all would demand the same kind of care around reporting and investigation.

Lastly, the third section, entitled Orientations, stressed the following:

A fundamental principal is named and required: the protection of vulnerable individuals is fundamental.

If they hadn’t already, all L’Arche communities committed to the adoption of the guiding principles related to abusive situations while respecting the applicable requirements and parameters for each province. These policies consider preventative and intervention strategies to be as important as assistance and supportive measures, preparing for all scenarios as required.

Developed in 2011, the Servant Leadership Program also places significant importance on our values, particularly respecting and listening to the other. This constitutes a fundamental component of promoting rights and respect.

Respect is defined as follows:

“Meet, appreciate, accept and affirm people as they are. Value one another as equal and special. Respect one another’s independence and freedom to choose.   Build dignity and confidence. Find the good in one another. Hear one another’s voices and preferences.  Remember friends who are no longer with us.” 5

It is further clarified here:

“Help one another get a high quality of physical, medical, emotional and personal support. Be attentive to each person’s needs. Listen to and respect each person’s wishes and preferences. Provide support in a spirit of “doing with” rather than “doing for.” Maintain a sense of dignity, respect and privacy. Be available when your presence is needed. Walk with one another in times of sickness, sadness, challenge and grief...” 6

Additionally, in 2015, at the time of adoption of the Leadership Services Program, it was specifically noted that:

« This program will have to be improved and made more explicit within 24 months, especially with regard to the following specific points, which are aspects of protection: the development of people’s competencies and capabilities, and actions that support engagement in society (and its associated strategies), which is one of the priorities in the current mandate»7

Through its initiatives with partners, L’Arche Canada has dedicated itself to promoting and advocating for the rights and inherent value of each person.  In the spring of 2016, the federal Bill C 14-1 on physician-assisted dying inspired a collaboration that illustrated L’Arche’s commitment to these values:

« We applaud the Government for affirming “the inherent and equal value of every person’s life,” discouraging “negative perceptions of the quality of life of persons who are elderly, ill or disabled” and clearly stating that “vulnerable persons must be protected from being induced, in moments of weakness, to end their lives.”  The legislation is rightly focused on medical assistance only to people who are dying.

However, these statements will be meaningless unless mechanisms are developed to provide vigorous safeguards as called for in the ‘Vulnerable Persons Standard.’ With the Canadian Association for Community Living and our other partners, we seek to ensure that these safeguards are incorporated so that the Government lives up to the values stated in the Preamble.

In addition to these safeguards, we must also develop the resources necessary to ensure that access to palliative care becomes a universally available health care service, and to expand supports and services for vulnerable Canadians and their families. We encourage the Government to invest in proactive supports that respond to many of the concerns raised in the Vulnerable Persons Standard »8

These elements clearly demonstrate the commitments and actions that L’Arche Canada and its communities have upheld for several years.

Included in these elements and actions are the many local, and often innovative initiatives, undertaken by communities in their respective milieu that advocate for people. One example is the video Pareil, pas pareil9produced by l’Association des Arches du Québec in partnership with L’Arche Canada. Another one is L’Arche Winnipeg’s project, Tova Café. Both examples represent activities that aim to dispel taboos and reveal the value of each person, and ensure that they are recognized as citizens in an unlimited capacity.

Concretely, what is left to do?

A great deal. Specifically, we must continue to pursue and promote respect. We must raise awareness on the issues of abuse and all forms of discrimination and harassment.

We must make a sincere and concerted effort to prevent this abuse, discrimination and harassment, both within our communities and in the larger society we participate in. This means including:

  • those we serve;
  • our colleagues;
  • the community groups or endeavours we are involved in and those who support us;
  • our Federation and the International Federation of L’Arche Communities;
  • our growth and personal journey.

Why do this? Because unfortunately, the news keeps reminding us of the prevalence of abusive situations. And because we are aware of the breadth and impact of such situations, and their ensuing suffering. Many members of our own L’Arche communities are victims and survivors of abuse.

While revising the guiding principles, we agreed to propose and adopt a global, integrated framework for abuse, discrimination and harassment. This endeavour constitutes a work in progress and the approval process is underway.

Events that have recently appeared to the public eye serve as a reminder of the importance of breaking the silence, not remaining quiet, and ensuring that no one feels isolated. 

In collaboration with our partners, we must also pursue the actions needed for making an active contribution to an inclusive society.

This web page allows L’Arche Canada to highlight initiatives in a new way; both those carried out by its regions and communities and those undertaken by other partners. This endeavour constitutes an integral component of a strategy that affirms our commitment to promoting rights and respect for all people and to preventing abuse, discrimination and harassment.


L’Arche Canada and/or its communities’ actions:

  • Guiding Principles for the Establishment and Review of Abuse Policies;


  • Servant Leadership Program.




Some references that allow for greater understanding (not exhaustive) :

  • Scope of the problem

French: et le protocole


  • Workplaces


English :

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:

Keep informed with our newsletter.