Considering Christine Monier’s love of the French language, it’s not surprising her career would involve an organization rooted in France.
“I am originally from Toronto, and when I graduated I was thinking about possibly working for the government, so I was looking for ways to go to France, to improve my French. I love the French language. I am truly a Francophile. I love the French language, the French culture, the wine, the food, and how the French spend time being with people. It’s a French way of being. The French really know how to appreciate life.”
It was in France where Monier first started her career with L’Arche – a worldwide organization that integrates intellectually disabled people into the local communities. She volunteered with the organization in France for a summer in 1983, then went back in 1986 and has been with L’Arche ever since.
There are 145 L’Arche communities in 35 countries.
L’Arche Comox Valley is one of 29 L’Arche communities in Canada.
“L’Arche is all about recognizing that everybody has a gift, and everybody has something to contribute,” said Christine. “L’Arche is also about welcoming different cultures; welcoming people from all kinds of different cultures. Here in our L’Arche home, at Jubilee House, we have a man from India, a woman from Cameroon, a woman from Ukraine, another person from Ontario – so we have a real mixture of people, and I love that about L’Arche.”
Again, no surprise there. Christine’s own family is a diverse blend. She met her husband Herve while in France, and they have three adopted children, Mariam, Agathe and Timothee, all of African origin.
“We adopted them one at a time. Mariam at three months old, Agathe at two months old and Timothee at 11 months old. Both girls are born in France although of African origin, while Timothee was born in Djibouti.”
Christine moved to the Comox Valley nearly six years ago, from France.
“That’s one of the beauties with L’Arche. As an international organization, it gives you a chance to move around.”
This is not her first move back to Canada since starting with L’Arche. She and Herve moved to Richmond Hill, Ont. in 1989, but moved back to France in 1992.
“My husband thought the Canadian winters were too cold. But winters here are a lot different than winters in Ontario.”
So is this her final stop?
“I’d like it to be. I have a ways to go before retirement, but there is so much to see and do here. It really is a hidden gem. I love this Valley.”