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Humanitarian Jean Vanier's life to be celebrated at L'Arche Ottawa fundraiser

ANDREW DUFFY

  French founder of the Communaute de l'Arche (Arch community) Jean Vanier smiles during a press conference in central London on March 11, 2015.  JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP/GETTY IMAGES

French founder of the Communaute de l'Arche (Arch community) Jean Vanier smiles during a press conference in central London on March 11, 2015. JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP/GETTY IMAGES

The life of Canadian Jean Vanier, the 90-year-old philosopher, humanitarian and community builder, will be celebrated Friday evening by L’Arche Ottawa.

Vanier is the founder of L’Arche, an international movement dedicated to improving the lives of people with intellectual disabilities by building inclusive, caring communities.

L’Arche began in France in August 1964 after Vanier, a Canadian professor of philosophy and retired naval officer, visited some institutionalized men with intellectual disabilities in France. Disturbed by the loneliness of those he met but moved by their humanity, Vanier renovated a home in a village called Trosly-Breuil, and invited some of the men to live with him.

He called the community “L’Arche” (the ark), and today there are 150 L’Arche communities in 37 countries dedicated to creating what Vanier once called “places of hope.”

L’Arche Ottawa’s celebration of Vanier’s life, which takes place Friday evening at the National Gallery of Canada, will include a special screening of a recently-released documentary film about his work, Summer in the Forest.

Director Randall Wright will introduce the film and discuss his impressions of Vanier with Globe and Mail journalist Ian Brown, who has written extensively about Vanier’s work and has explored his relationship with his own disabled son in his acclaimed book, “The Boy in the Moon.”

Proceeds from the event will go towards supporting the 30 members of L’Arche Ottawa.

Tickets for the fundraiser are available online or by email at gregoryhotte@larcheottawa.org.


It started as an experiment in the 60s to bring people out of institutions, into communities. Now there are more than a hundred L'Arche communities around the world including here in Ottawa.


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