About Us

the Identity & Mission of L’arche Communities

We are people, with and without developmental disabilities, sharing life in communities belonging to an International Federation. Mutual relationships and trust in God are at the heart of our journey together. We celebrate the unique value of every person and recognize our need of one another.

our mission is to…

  • Make known the gifts of people with developmental disabilities, revealed through mutually transforming relationships;
  • Foster an environment in community that responds to the changing needs of our members, while being faithful to the core values of our founding story; and
  • Engage in our diverse cultures, working together toward a more human society.

History of L’arche

As a young Canadian living in France, Jean Vanier was at the forefront of what gradually became the widely accepted movement to de-institutionalize people who had developmental disabilities. 

Distressed by the scandalous conditions he saw in institutions, in 1964 Jean Vanier invited two men with developmental disabilities to live with him – an act unheard of at the time. He named their small house “L’Arche,” after Noah’s Ark. 

The three created home life together, sharing daily tasks and times of relaxation as would a family. Soon they welcomed more men and women with developmental disabilities and many young assistants, from various countries including Canada, who wanted to share in this unique experience of living in community.

As L’Arche grew, it opened other homes in the village and started small work projects and creative studios where fine, hand-crafted items were made. When assistants returned to their home countries they carried the vision of L’Arche with them.

Vanier very quickly discovered that the people whom he had befriended had much to give him and to teach him about life. This awareness is fundamental to L’Arche and is what continues to attract many of the assistants who come to L’Arche. Jean Vanier is recipient of numerous honours recognizing his humanitarian work and his leadership as a social visionary, among them the Companion of the Order of Canada, the Legion of Honour (France), the Pope Paul VI International Prize and Templeton Prize 2015. 

How L’Arche came to Canada

After spending a year in France, Steve and Ann Newroth brought Jean Vanier’s vision home with them. In 1969, with the gift of a large house and some property, the first community outside France opened in Canada. In the 70s, L’Arche grew rapidly around the world. L’Arche continues to grow as every year new communities are opened.

L’Arche North Bay

L’Arche North Bay welcomes men and women with intellectual disabilities and the assistants who live, work and learn with them. People are drawn to our community from all over the world seeking a different way of life and bringing with them a variety of beliefs, backgrounds and qualifications. Inspired by a desire to make a difference with their lives, assistants come to discover a sense of purpose that is born out of the challenge of community life. Orientation and training for assistants fosters personal growth, competence and lasting friendships.

The key to L’Arche is relationships of mutual care and respect. L’Arche is committed to providing a safe life and working environment for all, particularly the most vulnerable. All persons have a right to be and feel safe in these settings, free from all forms of abuse and harassment. L’Arche provides training on the Abuse and Complaints policy and procedures for all personnel and volunteers who have direct contact with individuals with intellectual disabilities. L’Arche also provides an annual training program for all individuals with intellectual disabilities on abuse awareness and prevention. The language and tools used are geared to each person’s learning style and capacity. 

Many local friends participate in our community. L’Arche North Bay is a positive example of how people of different intellectual capacity, social origin and culture can live and learn together.