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Season’s Greetings from L’Arche Canada!

Nicholas Herd, featured in the picture above, gave a captivating interview on the United Nations Radio program UN News this year. In June, Nick was at the UN Headquarters in New York as part of a small delegation from L’Arche who participated in the UN Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Nick, who lives with Down Syndrome, is a long-time member of Sol Express, L’Arche Toronto’s inclusive performing arts troupe. Nick has become an accomplished actor with many performances to his credit—on stage and in videos. Nick wants the voices of people with intellectual disabilities to be heard. “I have lived with discrimination for part of my life,” said Nick. “When I was young and growing up, I was bullied because of my disability. “But now I can use that voice, from the child that I was, to be heard louder and louder. I can shout it on the top of a mountain—bigger than the UN—so that persons with disabilities are included at the table. “That’s how big your voice should be around the world. “That’s the reason we’re here at the United Nations,” said Nick. “We want to be included." Sadly, people with intellectual disabilities are often not included. Over 750,000 people with intellectual disabilities live in Canada today. An alarming number remain on the margins of society. Many are lonely. Too often they are unemployed, even when they have the ability to work or volunteer. Many have no one in their lives they would call a friend.  And a large percentage live in poverty. Most adults with intellectual disabilities live with family, often aging parents who worry about the future of their adult children whose options are so limited. [note] In L’Arche, we have long recognized how essential it is to listen to the voices of people with intellectual disabilities. Everyone has things that are important to them— about where they want to live, the work and activities they enjoy, and the relationships that matter most to them.

Inclusion is about using one’s voice to make the choices that matter in one’s life.

In Nick’s radio interview at the UN, he said, “Our voices are being heard at this table and at different tables—where everything can be more inclusive, with more awareness and more participation, where everyone can take part.” Everyone can take part. Supporting L’Arche is an important way to participate in its mission to build a world where everyone belongs.

The impact of L’Arche is personal, local, national, and global.

L’Arche is making a difference in the lives of people who participate in our 30 communities across Canada, in the lives of all Canadians with disabilities who benefit from our advocacy work at the national level and in some of the most troubled places in our world today, where people with intellectual disabilities are often left behind. As we celebrate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3rd, two L’Arche communities in our world live in places of crisis: L’Arche Ukraine is entering a second winter at war, and L’Arche Bethlehem faces the immense impact of the current conflict in the Middle East. The people of both communities are living day to day. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers. Wishing you and those you love every blessing this holiday season! Louis Pilotte National Executive Director PS Your gift this holiday season will support the mission of L’Arche— not only in Canada but also in communities like L’Arche Ukraine and L’Arche Bethlehem. Please give generously.