On May 7, CACL was saddened to learn of the passing of Jean Vanier, one of the world’s most influential advocates for the disability community. His support for inclusion, accessibility, and the agency of vulnerable populations reshaped global perceptions of the disability movement and redefined the relationship between communities and their vulnerable populations.

Born to Canadian parents, Jean Vanier devoted his life to humanitarian aid. He played a pivotal role in the deinstitutionalization of individuals with a developmental disability, redefining inclusive communities on a global scale. He believed in open societies that rejected selfish attitudes that promoted chaos, loneliness, and a concern for one’s own rights in favour of focusing on a common good. He believed that such a transformation of perception was critical in the rethinking of our attitudes towards the disability community, and that movement towards an “inclusive consciousness” would redefine peace and prosperity throughout the world.

CACL’s work on the Vulnerable Persons Standard in relation to Canada’s Supreme Court ruling around medical assistance in dying was endorsed in a letter by Jean Vanier. In it, Vanier insists on the importance of not obscuring or forgetting the innate dignity of all individuals, especially those who exist in a society that values independence over interdependence.

Vanier’s values are reflected in the passion of CACL’s team to build an inclusive Canada, and his ideas will continue to drive the organization’s work towards an open and accepting society. We look forward to continuing our work in collaboration with the disability community to fully realize Jean Vanier’s vision, and thank him for his commitment to valuing the lives of all individuals, regardless of ability.