On February 15, 2008, we welcomed our first member with a disability into Christopher House, our first L’Arche home, and L’Arche Saskatoon was born! Christopher House is now home to four “core members” (members with an intellectual disability), and four live-in assistants.
On June 24, 2016, we welcomed our first core member into our second home, Alma House. Similar to Christopher House, Alma House is home to four core members and four live-in assistants.
L’Arche homes look and feel like typical “family” homes, and contain all of the joys, frustrations, busy-ness, satisfactions, and routines associated with normal family life.
L’Arche Saskatoon provides vocational supports for adults with intellectual disabilities in our L’Arche workshop. Workshop participants have opportunities to engage in interesting and engaging activities appropriate to their particular abilities and aligned with their interests. Activities take place both at the workshop’s center and in the wider community. As in our homes, the workshop welcomes people with a wide range of abilities: some core members are independent in many areas, while others need assistance with all aspects of daily living. Most of the core members participating in the workshop do not live in a L’Arche home.
The animating vision of the workshop is that of “making friends, making art, and making peace.” The group spends some time each day out in the community doing social activities together, and some time at the center engaged in creative pursuits (e.g. weaving and card making). They also serve and help others as opportunities arise (e.g. buying groceries for seniors, visiting people in a seniors’ home).
The workshop is a place of welcome and belonging. Through meaningful recreational, artistic and social activities, significant relationships are built. Each person is seen as unique and as having gifts to offer—gifts that are discovered, welcomed, and celebrated.
Prayer Nights are held regularly on Wednesday nights at 7 pm (except on the first Wednesday of the month, or when there’s a Friends of L’Arche Gathering). We usually have tea and cookies afterwards, and everyone is welcome! They are hosted in one of the homes. Christopher House will host December (2016), February, April, and June (2017). Alma House will host November (2016), January, March, May (2017).
Friends of L’Arche Gatherings
In 1998 a number of people who felt a desire and a call to bring L’Arche to Saskatoon formed a group called “Led by the Spirit.” Led by the Spirit began holding monthly gatherings to build community with people with intellectual disabilities and their friends and family members. These “Friends of L’Arche Gatherings” have now grown to have a regular attendance of 60 to 70 people. At each gathering there is a time for socializing with others at the beginning, followed by a meal. After supper, there is a group activity in which everyone is invited to participate, music and singing, and a time for sharing news and celebrating birthdays. A wonderfully vibrant community life has developed at the Friends of L’Arche Gatherings, and everyone is invited to come!
The L’Arche Collective Kitchen is a small group of people who pool resources and time to make meals to take home. The group, whose membership changes from time to time, consists of four or five adults with intellectual disabilities and three or four volunteers who help with planning and organization. Each member puts in a small amount of money each month, which is matched by CHEP (Child Hunger and Education Program), to pay for the purchase of groceries.
The Collective Kitchen is a genuinely communal undertaking: everyone helps to prepare the food, everyone makes a financial contribution, everyone helps with cleaning up, and everyone gets to go home with a nutritious and delicious meal. While the explicit goals of the group are to make meals together and to support the development of core members’ cooking skills, the Collective Kitchen also provides significant opportunities for participants to develop meaningful relationships with one another.