National Treasure #75: Jean Vanier

Vanier is a name I knew as a girl: Georges Vanier, Jean’s father, was our Governor General from 1959 to 1967.

Jean Vanier had a privileged upbringing and served in the Royal Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy from age 17 to 20, and then resigned his commission in 1950. He obtained a PhD in philosophy but in 1964 he left academia, too, being drawn to an as-yet-unknown but more spiritual occupation.

Becoming aware of the number of people with development disabilities who were institutionalized, he invited two such men to live with him in Trosly-Breuil, France. Thus was born what became L’Arche, a community in which people with development disabilities live with those who care for them. As they say on their website:

Help us build a world where everyone belongs.

Today, there are 147 L’Arche communities in 35 countries.

He has received numerous awards, Canadian and international, and a 2004 CBC poll ranked him as #12 in a list of Greatest Canadians.

Read more on him here.


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2 Responses to National Treasure #75: Jean Vanier

  1. Help us build a world where everyone belongs: Just reading about totalitarian regimes … “The ancient and eternal values of human life — truth, unity, goodness, justice, beauty, and love — are all statements of true belonging.” John O’Donahue

    The deep divisions in American thinking & its incoming government’s influence on the rest of the world is frightening for the future. Carpe diem.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Barbara – Reactions to Trump seem to range from people figuring he’ll save America’s political system from its worst excesses to people who figure he’ll effect a coup d’etat and seize power for his lifetime – and everything in between. The extremes seem unlikely to me, but on the relief/panic scale, I don’t know where the truth does lie. All in all, I find it focuses me on my sphere of influence.

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