L’Arche Daybreak 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 wide range of beliefs, backgrounds and qualifications. Inspired by a desire to make a difference with their lives, assistants who come discover a sense of purpose that is born out of the challenge of community life. The orientation and training program for assistants fosters personal growth, competence and lasting friendships.
In a world that often sees people with intellectual disabilities as less than whole, L’Arche celebrates their creativity, transparency and great capacity for joy as important gifts to be shared. Started by Jean Vanier in France in 1964, L’Arche has become an international movement with over 140 communities throughout the world. Founded in 1969 in Richmond Hill, Ontario, L’Arche Daybreak is the oldest L’Arche community in North America.
Many local friends participate in our community life as volunteers. Other friends, students and visitors attend our worship services or retreats at Dayspring, our spiritual centre. L’Arche Daybreak is a dynamic example of how people of different intellectual capacity, social origin and culture can live and learn together.
“Life in L’Arche is simple: we welcome four or five people with disabilities to live with four or five assistants. Together we create homes of welcome and celebration, sharing the daily tasks of cooking, cleaning, and shopping: and the assistants help marginalized people to claim dignity, self-confidence, and respect in the home and in meaningful work opportunities. The great discovery for assistants has been that our lives in community have been good not only for them but also for us.”
A Short History of L’Arche Daybreak
Today, L’Arche has become one of the most innovative social movements in the world, with over 140 communities in over thirty countries. Many people have heard of our founder Jean Vanier, son of Canada’s former Governor General Georges Vanier.
Jean Vanier, son of Canada’s former Governor General Georges Vanier, founded the original L’Arche community in 1964. Living in the small French village of Trosly-Breuil, Jean invited two men with intellectual disabilities from a local institution to create home with him. They called their home L’Arche, meaning ‘The Ark.’
Jean Vanier, a Canadian, is one of the foremost visionaries of our time in advocating for people with intellectual disabilities. He is recognized as a humanitarian. In 2008 he received the Globe and Mail’s Nation Builder Award.
Recognizing the need for such a community in Richmond Hill, Steve and Ann Newroth started L’Arche Daybreak in 1969. With that, the second L’Arche Community in the world was born. L’Arche Daybreak is the oldest and largest L’Arche community in North America. The original property of 13 acres along with the Big House and the Old Barn was donated to us by the Sisters of Our Lady’s Missionaries. Today we have grown to include eight homes in Richmond Hill, five vocational programs, and the Dayspring spiritual centre.L’Arche Daybreak is a dynamic example of how people of different intellectual capacity, social origin and culture can live and learn together. We are blessed today with such vibrant and diverse community. L’Arche Daybreak is non-denominational and inter-faith. We celebrate the spiritual traditions of those who are Christian, Jewish, and Muslim with great respect and appreciation.We also honour community members who do not identify with a faith tradition. In all that we live at Daybreak, we celebrate our diversity, whether in ability or faith tradition or culture, as these differences weave a beautiful tapestry which reflects our core belief that all people have unique and sacred value.
Over time, our homes have become established in the local neighbourhoods of Richmond Hill, and Daybreak members, both young and old, are very much integrated into the wider community through shopping, dining out, and accessing entertainment and recreational activities.
L’Arche is a school of love where we learn to love others who are different. This requires each person to grow in humility and to work on themselves. It means learning to see each person as somebody in whom God dwells, a person from whom we can receive gifts and who can help us to grow in love. The belief in the inner beauty of each and every human being is at the heart of all true education and at the heart of being human.”