Residents of the L’Arche Comox Valley I Belong Centre, along with L’Arche personnel, pose for a picture on the front lawn of their newly opened home. The I Belong Centre, a multi-unit residential complex and community centre, celebrated its grand opening Sept. 12, 2017.

L’Arche Comox Valley community reeling over findings of inquiry into founder

The local L’Arche community is reeling in the wake of a report that has determined L’Arche founder Jean Vanier sexually abused six women, between 1975 and 1990.

“Everybody is in shock, and actually devastated,” said L’Arche Comox Valley executive director Christine Monier. “The revealings are credible and they reveal a side of him that nobody knew about.

“There’s a sense of sadness, and betrayal here. It just hurts. It’s not acceptable. It was no more acceptable 50 years ago than [it is] today.”

The inquiry, which was commissioned by L’Arche and conducted by an independent group (GCPS Consulting), determined Vanier had engaged in sexual relations with the six adult, non-disabled women who had approached the revered religious leader for spiritual direction.

RELATED: Canadian L’Arche community shocked by inquiry findings

The inquiry was started in April of 2019, one month before the 90-year-old Vanier’s death.

“It was an internal inquiry by an external body, independent from L’Arche, so there wouldn’t be any conflict of interest,” explained Monier. “Another oversight committee reviewed the findings… to make sure that it was credible. I think they did their due diligence, and L’Arche wanted to reveal, and not hide this internal report, which is very damning. It just takes down Jean Vanier, who was on a pedestal, who we all looked up to, and now we look at him in the truthful light that these [findings] of abuse shed on him.

“This is an incredibly noble organization and I think the fact that it had the courage to call out Jean and actually take him down … for me, speaks to the integrity of the organization.”

Monier said the local L’Arche community is shattered and conflicted.

“There’s the man, Jean Vanier, and then there’s his message and the work of L’Arche – [those] are two separate things. We did look at him as an inspiration and he was able to put words on the core values, the guiding principles [of L’Arche] but his actions are the antithesis … they stand against everything that L’Arche stands for.”

She said it’s important to note that the L’Arche community is far greater than the man who founded it, and that L’Arche will continue to be an important beacon in the Comox Valley, and beyond.

“L’Arche is beyond Jean Vanier. We know that we stand for vulnerable people and we have zero tolerance for abuse in our community. We have lifted marginalized people out of very difficult situations – people with disabilities now live more dignified lives, more meaningful lives, with friendships and relationships. All that work that L’Arche does, will continue. We clearly stand with the victims, and the hurt that they have experienced, but that doesn’t diminish the work and the values that L’Arche has. I don’t think this changes who we are and what we do.”

Monier is confident L’Arche Comox Valley will overcome the findings of the report.

“Oh I think so – where there’s crisis, there’s opportunity. I think this will allow us to more clearly articulate what the mission, the goals, the values of L’Arche stand for, which is standing for the vulnerable,” said Monier. “One man does not define what L’Arche is, and the mission it has around the world. I am confident that one day we will look back with courage and humility and we will become stronger through this ordeal, and we will build a stronger future, because I really believe in the mission of L’Arche. People with disabilities need our support, and they are a gift. They make our community – that diversity, that inclusion – we are stronger because of their presence.”

The findings of the inquiry hit Monier particularly hard, as she was personally acquainted with Vanier.

“I met him on several occasions,” she said. “I lived in France for 18 years. I lived in the community where he was living for four years. I wasn’t in his inner circle, but I never felt anything untoward…. Personally I feel disheartened, saddened, betrayed, and what’s difficult is grasping that he did good, and then he did such evil. That said, I am not at L’Arche because of Jean Vanier. I am at L’Arche because of the people, and the lives that we transform. These people are amazing people, and their lives are worth shining a light on.”

Jean Vanier was the son of former governor general Georges Vanier, after whom the Courtenay school is named. He visited the Comox Valley, and spoke at the school, in 1996. L’Arche Comox Valley opened in the year 2000.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Comox Valley

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


Jean Vanier

Just Posted

Comox Valley Regional District approves emergency funding to address community COVID-19 issues

The Comox Valley Regional District’s board of directors has approved $148,279 in… Continue reading

Courtenay pharmacy donates some sanitizer despite high demand

Pure Integrative Pharmacy provides some to Glacier Village, Comox Valley Transition Society

Vancouver Island man sick with COVID-19 calls it a ‘horrible disease’

Tim Green says he has ‘extreme coughing fits every hour’ to clear his lungs

Successful removal of invasive plants in Comox park

The Friends of Mack Laing Nature Park (FMLNP) organized an ‘Invasive Pull… Continue reading

Craigdarroch residents find ways to help each other online and off

Neighbourhood of about 200 households lies between Royston and Union Bay

First Nations, remote communities need special attention in pandemic, Freeland says

Health-care workers, seniors, Indigenous Peoples some of people most at risk, health officials say

Comox Valley grocers going extra mile during coronavirus

We have had numerous requests to post a fluid article directing consumers… Continue reading

COVID-19 has been impacting Canadian economy since January

But full effects of pandemic won’t be known for months

Doctors trained abroad want to join front lines of COVID-19 fight in Canada

B.C. is looking to allow internationally trained doctors to work under the supervision of attending physicians

Fake test kits and other COVID online scams play on public anxiety: fraud centre

Vancouver has seen a spike in commercial property crimes, with offices and stores empty because of COVID-19

Canada’s 75% wage subsidy is coming, but not for several weeks: finance minister

Subsidy will cost Canada $71 billion, but push down cost of emergency benefit, Morneau said

Feds amplify stay-home message as cost of financial aid to Canadians mounts

Liberals have unveiled around $200B in direct financial aid and tax deferrals

‘We will get through this’: B.C. sees new COVID-19 death, but 57% have recovered

A total of 1,066 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

Most Read