My friend Gil

Gil, what’s your secret?

Your sister, Marie, tells us that as a child you were in no hurry to grow, “It was when Gil was about two years old that we could see something was different because he didn’t walk. He moved and everything, but he was different.”

What is surprising in Gil's story is that no one discovered his Down Syndrome during his infancy. The whole family was patient with the developmental delays of the youngest child, showering him with affection and attention. Perhaps he had no need to walk or talk because he had all that he needed.

Yet, this patient, generous love also desired that Gil grow in his own way. Marie recalls this journey, “My mother, she said, ‘Oh well … he’ll come … he’ll walk! We’ll see, it’s going to happen, he’ll walk, then he’ll talk, and then all that’…

…but we saw that around the age of four, he was walking but there was an issue with communication. With persistence – my mom was at home at that time – he started to talk and to get around…”

It’s not hard to imagine how this extraordinary childhood has shaped the man Gil has become. The love of his family, their acceptance without judgement, and patient support for him to grow in his own way, seem to have instilled in Gil the quality of presence to others and to the present moment that guide his life today.

 

Mon Ami Gil - 4 - Childhood from L'Arche Canada on Vimeo.

As he shares these gifts, Gil invites us, his friends, to see the world the way he sees it, to think about our lives and what’s important to us, to rediscover our capacity for presence and wonder.

Subscribe to Gil’s list of friends to receive all information on the series.
http://crm.larche.ca/my-friend-gil

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Project initiator: Gil Frois
Filming: Voices and Colors New Media
Production: Jean Vanier Association
Web series adaptation: L’Arche Canada
Filming and dissemination partners: L’Arche Agapè and Association des Arches du Québec

A big thank you to cellist Anne Contant for the music of this clip.


Sometimes it takes a long time to truly listen to people who express themselves differently, who don’t fulfill roles in society from which they can be heard.
Most documentaries are inspired by exceptional subjects or unusual situations. In this film, the camera follows Gil as he goes about his everyday tasks. He completes each job with the same tireless enthusiasm, never giving up.
I did not know Aurèle, but I was sad when I heard that he died. I was sad for him and his family and friends, for his friend Gil, their housemates and their L’Arche community.
Do you have an intellectual disability and dream of being a model? Gil invites you to step onto the stage and participate in our ExpressYourself Contest by posing in front of the camera!
One of Gil’s greatest gifts is his capacity for mutuality in friendships where each helps the other to grow, each brings out the best in the other. When he was young, Gil was fortunate to be accompanied by an extraordinary special educator, François Villemaire, who at the time worked for the “Pavillon du parc”, an establishment that is part of the network of health and social services in Gatineau, Quebec.
Many thanks to everyone who answered our invitation and shared their smile for World Down Syndrome Day. We are now launching a new invitation… to share the stage with Gil. Do you know anyone with an intellectual disability who, perhaps inspired by Gil, would like to be in the spotlight? Write to us at gil.monami@gmail.com.
Why does my heart melt when I see a picture of Gil Frois in my Facebook feed or on larche.ca? I’m either rushing or exhausted, but I jump online to make sure I’m not missing yet another thing… there he is smiling at the camera, or captured at work, or making music. His photo makes me pause and catch my breath.
How can we describe Gil’s music? Innate, intuitive, inspired, free, without reference? Different, for sure!