Transcript: Claire Trahan | Jan 16, 1992

(Lyrical theme music plays)

A clip shows water lilies on a pond, birds flying around and a view over a
misty forest glen. Smoke rises from factories and round mesetas appear.
Snow falls and coats a valley. A farmhouse is totally blanketed by snow. A
small plane flies over a lake with a rippled surface.

"TALK TO ME SO I
CAN HEAR YOUR VOICE
LIKE A LAKE SO
DEEP AND CLEAR
SOARING THROUGH THE
TOPS OF THE TREES
DANCING BY MY WINDOW
LIKE A WIND BLOWING
THROUGH MY DOOR
DISTANT VOICES
DISTANT VOICES
DISTANT VOICES
DISTANT VOICES."

A woman in her fifties with wavy graying hair and large-lens glasses speaks.
A caption reads "Claire Trahan, Regional Coordinator, L'Arche Homes."

Claire says ALFIE WAS ALREADY,
LIKE, 72, I GUESS,
BY THE TIME HE CAME TO L'ARCHE.
SO HE NEVER WORKED IN
A SHELTER WORKSHOP OR ANYTHING.
HE WAS HOME ALL DAY, YOU KNOW?
HE WAS LIKE A GRANDFATHER.
HE WAS THE ONE THAT
WOULD WELCOME PEOPLE
WHEN THEY CAME HOME
FROM WORK, YOU KNOW?
IT WAS HIS WAY OF REALLY
GIVING LIFE, YOU KNOW?
I THINK MAYBE PEOPLE
IN INSTITUTIONS
DON'T GET THE CHANCE
TO HAVE THE NORMAL
CYCLE OF LIFE, YOU KNOW?
SO THAT WAS HIS KIND
OF WAY TO DO THAT.
HE... HIS PLACE IN
OUR COMMUNITY,
HE WAS WITH US FOR
FOUR YEARS, I GUESS,
FOUR YEARS, AND THEN
HE JUST GOT SICKER,
AND WE LIVED THROUGH
THAT TOGETHER.
WE DIDN'T PLACE HIM IN A
HOSPITAL OR INSTITUTION
WHEN HE GOT SICK.
HE LIVED WITH US
UNTIL THE DAY HE DIED.

A loon swims across a lake. A title caption reads "Distant Voices."
A further caption reads "with Eva Solomon, C.S.J.
[loon calling]
Eva, in her forties, wearing a flowery blouse, sits facing the camera.

Eva says IN 1964, JEAN VANIER
INVITED TWO CANADIANS TO
SHARE HIS HOME IN FRANCE.
WHAT WAS UNIQUE ABOUT
THEM WAS THAT THEY WERE
MENTALLY HANDICAPPED PERSONS.
OUT OF THIS SHARED
EXPERIENCE CAME THE HOME
AND COMMUNITY THAT IS
TODAY THE BASIS
OF MORE THAN 90
L'ARCHE COMMUNITIES
AROUND THE WORLD.
CLAIRE TRAHAN BROUGHT THE
L'ARCHE IDEA TO NORTH BAY
IN THE TWO HOMES SHE HELPED FOUND.
IN THIS VENTURE, SHE WAS
INSPIRED BY HER FRIENDS
ALF AND BARNEY.
SHE HAD BEEN TOUCHED BY
THEIR LIVES AS SHE
VISITED THEM IN THE
INSTITUTIONS THEY CALLED HOME.
LIKE VANIER, HER
CALLING HAD BROUGHT HER
TO THE REALIZATION THAT
BROKENNESS LIVES
WITHIN HER, AND
WITHIN EACH OF US.
IN HER CASE, SHE HAD
DISCOVERED HERS
TO BE PARTLY A RESULT OF
BEING A FRANCO-ONTARIAN.
BUT LIKE BARNEY AND ALF,
THIS BROKENNESS
HAS BEEN A MEANS FOR
HER TO DISCOVER
HER GREATEST GIFTS.

A short, bearded man in his fifties wearing a cap sits on a park bench with
a border collie. A caption reads "Alfie." A photo shows a woman with curly
gray hair embracing a man in his sixties with receding dark hair.

Claire says BARNEY CAME,
WHEN WE FIRST OPENED
THE L'ARCHE COMMUNITY,
BARNEY CAME WITHIN
THE FIRST COUPLE OF WEEKS.
ALFIE DIDN'T COME
BECAUSE AT THAT POINT,
THE MINISTRY SAID
BECAUSE ALFIE WAS OLDER,
ALFIE WAS 71 AT THE TIME
WHEN WE OPENED L'ARCHE
IN NORTH BAY, AND
THEY FELT ALFIE
WAS RIGHTFULLY PLACED.
AT THAT POINT, ALFIE
HAD ACTUALLY LEFT
THE PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL
AND WAS IN A NURSING HOME.
AND THEY FELT THAT WAS THE
RIGHT PLACE FOR HIM.
SO I DIDN'T REALLY PUSH
IT BECAUSE THE BOARD
OF DIRECTORS ALSO FELT
THAT THAT WAS FINE.
BUT WHAT WE DID DO
WAS ALFIE, EXCUSE ME,
BARNEY AND I WENT
OUT TO VISIT,
AT LEAST ONCE A MONTH,
WE WENT OUT TO VISIT,
AND WE TOOK HIM OUT, AND
WE TOOK HIM TO L'ARCHE.
AND EVERY TIME WE DID THAT,
ALFIE WOULD ALWAYS MAKE PROMISES.
HE WOULD ASK US IF HE COULD
COME AND LIVE WITH US.
AND I WOULD EXPLAIN, YOU KNOW,
I THOUGHT IT WAS FINE... HE
COULDN'T, AND WHATEVER.
AND HE WOULD SAY, WELL, IF
YOU COULD HAVE ME COME,
I COULD PLANT SOME BLUE
FLOWERS AROUND THE DOOR,
AND HE WOULD ALWAYS MAKE
PROMISES OF WHAT
HE WOULD DO FOR US IF HE
COULD POSSIBLY COME.
AND WHAT HAPPENED WAS,
WHEN WE WOULD BRING HIM BACK,
THEN HE WAS CAUSING
SOME DIFFICULTIES
IN THE NURSING HOME BECAUSE
HE DIDN'T WANT TO LIVE
IN THE NURSING HOME.
SO WHAT HAPPENED
EVENTUALLY IS THEY CUT OFF
OUR VISITS, AND THEY
SAID WE COULDN'T TAKE
HIM OUT ANYMORE.
AND THEY MADE IT SO
UNPLEASANT THAT FINALLY
I JUST WENT TO THE
BOARD AND SAID,
WE HAVE TO LOOK AT
THIS SERIOUSLY
BECAUSE HE REALLY DOES WANT
TO COME TO LIVE WITH US,
AND WHY NOT?
WHY CAN'T WE HAVE A
GRANDFATHER IN THE COMMUNITY?
SO WE MADE THE
STEPS TO TAKE ALFIE.
AND THE ADMINISTRATION
THEN AGAIN REALLY BLOCKED US,
AND SAID WECOULDN'T TAKE HIM,
SO WE DECIDED TO GO TO COURT,
THAT WE WOULD GO TO
COURT AND GET ALFIE
TO COME LIVE WITH US.
WHEN WE GOT TO
COURT, THEY SAID,
HAD WE EVER ASKED
ALFIE TO COME,
JUST ACTUALLY TRIED TO TAKE
HIM, AND WE SAID NO.
AND THEY SAID YOU'VE GOT
NOTHING TO GO TO COURT
BECAUSE THEY'VE NEVER
REALLY STOPPED YOU.
SO WE JUST WENT BACK.
IT WAS EARLY DECEMBER.
WE WENT BACK TO THE HOME,
AND I HAD GOTTEN A SHEET
OF PAPER FROM THE LAWYER
SAYING, I, ALFIE LADARU
WANT TO MOVE TO
L'ARCHE NORTH BAY.
SO ALFIE WAS ABLE
TO SIGN HIS NAME,
WHICH WAS FORTUNATE, AND
I GOT HIM TO SIGN THAT,
AND THEN WE JUST
WALKED OUT WITH HIM.
AND WHEN WE GOT HOME,
THEN WE PHONED BACK
AND SAID, ALFIE'S MOVED.
AND THAT'S HOW IT HAPPENED.
WE JUST WENT BACK THE NEXT
DAY AND GOT HIS THINGS.
HE WAS, I WOULD CALL
IT, A WHITTLE-WIT.
HE WOULD MAKE MARIONETTES.
HE WAS JUST MARVELLOUS.
AND USED TO DEVELOP THESE -
HE ALWAYS HAD THESE PAPERS,
AND HE WAS ALWAYS DRAWING
PLANS AND EVERYTHING.
AND HE HAD THIS GREAT PLAN
TO BUILD A MOUSE TRAP.
HE WAS A REAL ANIMAL LOVER.
HE HATED MOUSE TRAPS.
HE WANTED TO BE ABLE
TO CATCH A MOUSE
SO THAT HE COULD SET
IT FREE OUTSIDE.

Eva says OH, YES, A LIVE TRAP.

Claire says OH, YEAH.
HE WANTED THEM TO BE ALIVE
SO HE COULD SET THEM
FREE OUTSIDE.
AND IN THE INSTITUTION,
HE WASN'T ALLOWED
TO HAVE ANY KNIVES
OF ANY KIND.
SO HE USED TO DO THAT ONCE
A MONTH WHEN HE USED
TO COME TO OUR PLACE.
WE HAD BOUGHT HIM THE
KNIVES AND THE WOOD
AND EVERYTHING.
SO NO WONDER HE WANTED TO
MOVE, BECAUSE THEN HE WAS
ABLE TO EXPRESS HIMSELF
AND DO THINGS THAT ARE REALLY
MEANINGFUL FOR HIM.
HE WASN'T ABLE TO DO THAT
AT THE INSTITUTION,
IT WAS QUITE HELPFUL.

(Indistinct chatter)
Against a group of people in the Institution, a caption reads "We believe that
each person, whether handicapped or not, haS a unique and mysterious value. The
handicapped person is a complete human being, and, as such, he has the right
to life, to care, to education and to work." "Extract from the Charter of the
Communities of L'Arche."
(singing)

Claire continues YOU THINK OF A PERSON
WHO HAS BEEN IN AN
INSTITUTION FOR YEARS,
AND OFTEN REJECTED
BY THEIR FAMILY, BY THEIR
VILLAGE, OR WHATEVER,
I MEAN, THAT BRINGS AN
AWFUL LOT OF WOUNDS, REALLY.
THAT PERSON IS REALLY REJECTED.
SO IN FACT, MAKING L'ARCHE
REALLY LOOK AT THEMSELVES
REALLY SERIOUSLY
AND SAY, WHY NOT?
WHY CAN'T WE WELCOME THESE PEOPLE?
AND FOR EXAMPLE, RIGHT NOW
WE HAVE A PERSON IN NORTH BAY
WHO IS A PARAPLEGIC,
IN A WHEELCHAIR.
AND THAT COMPLETELY OPENED
US TO A WHOLE NEW WORLD.
IT WASN'T JUST ENOUGH TO
JUST ACCESS ONE HOUSE
BECAUSE WE'RE A COMMUNITY,
WE HAD TO ACCESS BOTH
HOUSES, SO THAT DONNA
CAN VISIT BOTH OF THE HOMES.
SO IT OPENED US UP
TO... AND WHY NOT?
BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE
IN A WHEELCHAIR,
ARE THEY GOING TO
SIT IN AN INSTITUTION
FOR THEIR LIVES?
I MEAN, IT'S NO LONGER
VALID, YOU KNOW?
AND BECAUSE SOMEONE
HAS SEVERE BEHAVIOURAL
DIFFICULTIES, OR
EVEN INTO VIOLENCE,
SOME OF OUR PEOPLE
ARE, WHY NOT?
WHY CAN'T WE SOMEHOW PROTECT THEM,
GIVE THEM WHATEVER THEY NEED
SO THEY CAN FUNCTION.

Eva says DID YOU GROW UP
IN A COMPLETELY
SORT OF FRENCH ENVIRONMENT?
YOUR FAMILY WERE
FRENCH SPEAKING?
BOTH YOUR PARENTS ARE FRENCH,
AND DID YOU GO TO FRENCH SCHOOL?

Claire says YES, I DID.
AS A MATTER OF FACT, WHEN
WE MOVED UP TO BLIND RIVER,
I REMEMBER I WAS IN GRADE 9.
I COULDN'T SPEAK ENGLISH AT ALL.
THERE WAS NO ENGLISH AT ALL.
I STARTED TAKING ENGLISH
AS AN OPTION IN GRADE 9.
I DIDN'T SPEAK ANY -
PRACTISING ON THE FARM.
I REMEMBER WHEN WE GOT
ELECTRICITY BECAUSE
ORIGINALLY, THE HOUSE
WAS VERY PRIMITIVE,
WE DIDN'T HAVE ELECTRICITY.
AND WHEN THAT WAS PUT IN,
I REMEMBER PRACTISING
TO GO AND ASK ONE OF THE
WORK PERSONS IF HE WANTED
TO HAVE A DRINK.
I HAD NO IDEA
WHAT I WAS SAYING,
SO I PRACTICED
ALL THE WAY UP.
AND I CAME BACK DOWN AND
DIDN'T KNOW HIS ANSWER.
[laughing]
I DIDN'T KNOW HIS ANSWER.

Eva says WHAT WAS IT THAT
BROUGHT YOU YOOUR INTEREST IN AN ENGLISH
ENVIRONMENT THEN, IN TERMS OF BECOMING
A SISTER IN A BASICALLY
ENGLISH SPEAKING COMMUNITY?

Claire says I HAVEN'T THOUGHT
ABOUT THAT FOR A WHILE,
BUT IN FACT, I WAS GOING
TO SCHOOL IN BLIND RIVER
TO THE FRENCH SISTERS,
THE "DAUGHTERS OF WISDOM."
AND OUR SCHOOL WAS TOGETHER,
AND THERE WERE TWO
DIFFERENT SIDES TO IT.
SO THERE WAS A FRENCH
SIDE AND ENGLISH SIDE.
AND THE SISTERS OF
SAINT JOSEPH HAD
THE ENGLISH SIDE.
AND I GUESS IN
MY YOUNG MIND,
I REALLY THOUGHT THE
ENGLISH SISTERS
WERE HAPPIER.
THAT'S HOW I EXPLAINED
IT TO MY PARENTS
BECAUSE MY PARENTS WERE
KIND OF AGAINST IT.

Eva says DID YOU HAVE THE
SENSE OF PERHAPS BEING,
I'M NOT SURE IF IT WOULD BE
KIND OF A SENSE OF "LESS THAN,"
OR "NOT FITTING
IN" JUST BECAUSE
OF YOUR LANGUAGE?
OR WAS THERE A DIFFERENT
IMPRESSION AS WELL
IN TERMS OF
ACCEPTANCE AND SO ON?

Claire says I REMEMBER TO
SOME EXTENT FEELING
A LITTLE BIT "LESS," MAYBE.
AND MOSTLY BECAUSE I MADE
SO MANY ERRORS IN ENGLISH
THAT THEY WERE FOREVER
CORRECTING ME.
AND I REMEMBER THAT GOT
TO ME AFTER A WHILE.
I JUST FELT THAT THEY
SHOULD JUST LET ME TALK...
WHATEVER, BECAUSE I
COULDN'T REALLY EVER SAY
A SENTENCE THAT SOMEBODY
DIDN'T CORRECT ME.
SO I REMEMBER HAVING
THAT OUT WITH SISTER
SAINT EDWARD AT THAT POINT.
JUST SAYING, "LET ME LEARN.
LET ME TALK," KIND OF
A THING, YOU KNOW?
NOT REALLY.
AS A MATTER OF FACT, I
REMEMBER MAYBE A COUPLE
OF WEEKS DOWN THE LINE,
I REMEMBER JUST
REALLY BEING SO LONESOME.
AND I REMEMBER THEY SENT
SISTER LILLIAN DEROCHER,
I DON'T KNOW IF
YOU REMEMBER HER?

Eva says YES.

Claire says TO COME AND
TAKE ME OUT FOR A WALK,
AND THEN WE SPOKE FRENCH.
AND THAT WAS KIND OF A
BREAKTHROUGH IN A WAY.
I GUESS THEY GUESSED
WHAT IT WAS ALL ABOUT.
BECAUSE I REMEMBER
THAT POINT,
AND THEN WE USED TO GET
TOGETHER QUITE REGULARLY
TO SPEAK FRENCH.
I WAS IN BOOKKEEPING
AT THE TIME,
AND I EXPRESSED THE
DESIRE THAT'S NOT
WHAT I WANTED TO DO...
THAT SOMEHOW I WANTED TO
PURSUE THIS OTHER THING.
SO I SAID I WOULD
GET MY OWN JOB,
AND I LANDED AT THE
ONTARIO PSYCHIATRIC
HOSPITAL AS A VOLUNTEER.
AND I DID THAT FOR A WHOLE YEAR.
AND, AT THAT POINT, WHAT I
DID WAS SET UP SOME KIND
OF DAY PROGRAMS SO PEOPLE
COULD HAVE SOME MEANING IN THEIR
LIVES, YOU KNOW?
WE STARTED A COOKING PROGRAM,
AN EXERCISE PROGRAM, ALL
KINDS OF DIFFERENT THINGS.
REESTABLISHING SOME OF
THE LINKS WITH THEIR
FAMILIES, FOR EXAMPLE,
LIKE WRITING.
WE WERE LOOKING UP
IN THE FILES TO SEE
IF PEOPLE HAD FAMILIES.
AND WE REESTABLISHED THAT.
AND ALSO TAKING THEM OUT
TO THEIR LOCAL COMMUNITY
QUITE A BIT.
I DON'T KNOW IF YOU WERE
AROUND AT THAT TIME,
BUT I REMEMBER TAKING
BARNEY AND ALFIE
AND QUITE A FEW OF
THE OTHERS OUT.
AND ALSO ON DAY OUTINGS.
WE WENT OUT TO MIDLAND,
AND GETTING VOLUNTEERS
AND GOING TOGETHER.
BUT IT WAS REALLY AT
THE END OF THAT YEAR
THINKING IT WAS KIND
OF GOING NOWHERE.
BECAUSE THE STAFF REALLY
WASN'T ABLE TO ASSIST ME
BECAUSE THEY WERE SCARED
OF LOSING THEIR JOBS,
YOU KNOW, IF THEY
REALLY BECAME TOO, TOO INVOLVED.
I GUESS, I DON'T WANT
TO GO INTO PARTICULARS,
BUT THEY WERE A LITTLE
SCARED OF THAT.
SO I REALLY FELT SOMEHOW
I HAD TO GET
THE PEOPLE OUT OF THERE.
AND THAT'S WHEN I ASKED
THE SISTERS OF SAINT JOSEPH
IF I COULD GO BACK TO
FRANCE AND GET MORE TRAINING,
IN ORDER TO MAYBE COME BACK
AND START SOMETHING.
AND THAT'S WHEN I WENT
BACK AND I STAYED FOR
ANOTHER THREE AND A
HALF YEARS IN FRANCE.
ALL THE TIME WRITING BACK
TO ALFIE AND TO BARNEY.
(Gentle guitar music plays)

A clip shows coastal scenes with seabirds.

Eva says THE IDEA OF COMMUNITY
IS A FUNDAMENTAL ONE
BEHIND L'ARCHE...
SHARING MAKES CLEAR
THAT ALL PEOPLE
HAVE SOMETHING TO GIVE,
AND SOMETHING TO TEACH.
THE IDEA OF FAMILY EXTENDS
BEYOND THOSE WHO HAVE
GIVEN US LIFE, AND ASKS
US TO LOOK BEYOND BLOOD TIES
TO A LARGER VISION OF SHARING.

A tall man in his sixties stands behind Claire as she sits with a handicapped
person. A caption reads "Jean Vanier."

Claire says I THINK ONE OF THE
THINGS THAT MAKES JEAN
SO BELIEVABLE, AND
TOUCHES REALLY PEOPLE
IS HE SPEAKS OUT OF
WHAT HE LIVES.
YOU KNOW WHEN HE IS
TALKING ABOUT SOMETHING,
THIS IS WHAT HE LIVES.
HE LIVES, AND HE
EATS EVERY DAY
WITH HANDICAPPED
PERSONS, YOU KNOW?
AND HE RECOGNIZES HIS OWN HANDICAP.
HE REALLY DOES. AS WE ALL DO.
AS WE'RE ALL HANDICAPPED
IN SOME WAY OR OTHER.
I JUST REMEMBER THAT.
I REMEMBER WHEN I FIRST
WENT TO FRANCE THINKING,
AND I WOULD HEAR HIM
SAY THAT, AND SAY,
"WELL, I'M NOT," KIND OF THING.
I REMEMBER THAT WAS MY
INITIAL KIND OF REACTION.
BUT OVER THE YEARS, I'VE
DISCOVERED CERTAINLY
WE'RE ALL HANDICAPPED
IN SOME WAY OR OTHER...
SOME MORE THAN OTHERS.
IT'S JUST DIFFERENT
LEVELS OF HANDICAP, THAT'S ALL.
JUST THE HANDICAPPED
PERSONS I'VE KNOWN OVER
THE YEARS, SOME OF THEM
ARE SO GIFTED IN SOME AREAS.
REALLY OUTSTANDING GIFTS.
BUT IN SOME AREAS, THEY'RE NOT.

Eva says YOU SPOKE A MOMENT
AGO ABOUT VIOLENCE,
AND HOW THAT LASHING
OUT SOMETIMES,
THAT BEHAVIOURAL PROBLEM
IS RELATED TO SOMETHING
IN THE PERSON'S PAST,
AND IN FACT THERE CAN BE
A TOTAL HEALING IN THAT.
OR A COMPLETE HEALING.
SO I WONDER IF YOU'D
SHARE THAT EXPERIENCE.

Claire says MAYBE I CAN
JUST TAKE THE EXAMPLE
OF MARIE IN FRANCE,
WHEN I WAS THERE.
MARIE HAD BEEN IN AN
INSTITUTION MOST OF HER LIFE,
AND CAME TO US, AND HAD
ALMOST COME TO A STAGE
IN HER LIFE WHERE SHE WASN'T
ABLE TO "REALLY LIVE."
LIKE ALMOST SO GRAPHICALLY,
THAT SHE WOULD TAKE
TWO STEPS FORWARD,
AND THEN TAKE A STEP BACKWARD.
SHE WASN'T ABLE TO
FEED HERSELF ANYMORE,
SHE WASN'T ABLE TO EAT.
SO SHE WAS ALMOST AT A KIND
OF STANDSTILL IN HER LIFE.
AND WE WERE WORKING WITH
PROFESSIONALS AT THAT POINT.
AND I REMEMBER THE
PSYCHOLOGIST SAYING
SOMEHOW SHE HAD MISSED
THAT WHOLE ASPECT
OF BEING MATERNALIZED.
A MOTHER HAD NEVER SAID
TO HER, "YOU'RE WONDERFUL,"
AND NEVER REALLY BATHED HER.
SO IT WAS DECIDED PERHAPS
THAT'S WHAT SHE NEEDED
IN HER LIFE AT THAT POINT.
SO, BECAUSE MARIE HAD
KIND OF CHOSEN ME...
SHE WAS VERY AGGRESSIVE
AT THAT POINT.
I REMEMBER ONE TIME
SHE PUT HER FORK
RIGHT IN MY SHOULDER.
AND THE PSYCHOLOGIST
EXPLAINED PROBABLY
HER AGGRESSION TOWARDS HER MOTHER
WAS COMING OUT ON ME.
SO WHAT HAPPENED WAS, HE
SAID THAT WAS KIND
OF A NATURAL CHOICE OF MARIE,
SHE HAD CHOSEN ME SOMEHOW
TO EMBODY HER MOTHER,
SO I WAS ASKED, THEN,
TO "MATERNALIZE" MARIE.
SO WE STARTED WAY BACK TO BASICS.
FOR EXAMPLE, I WOULD BATHE HER.
AND AS I WAS BATHING
HER, I WOULD TALK
ABOUT HER BODY AS A
MOTHER DOES TO HER CHILD.
ALSO, WE WERE EATING.
I ACTUALLY WOULD FEED HER
SO SHE WAS ABLE TO FEED.
I WOULD WALK HER TO WORK.
I WAS THE ONLY ONE DOING
THOSE THINGS WITH HER
SO SHE REALLY IDENTIFIED.
AND EVENTUALLY, SHE JUST
UNBLOCKED COMPLETELY.
SHE WAS ABLE TO FUNCTION
QUITE, QUITE WELL.
AND THEN WE WENT THROUGH THE
WHOLE PROCESS OF WEANING
HER AWAY FROM THAT.
NOW, MARIE AND MY
RELATIONSHIP IS STILL
VERY, VERY CLOSE.
AND I DO GO BACK TO FRANCE
FOR SURE EVERY SECOND YEAR,
AND WE DO WRITE BACK AND
FORTH BETWEEN THAT,
BUT THERE'S A RELATIONSHIP THAT
IS ALMOST "MOTHER-DAUGHTER."
BETWEEN THE TWO OF US.
IT'S JUST VERY, VERY CLOSE.

Claire sits on a jetty in a patterned dress.

Eva says WHY DID YOU FEEL THAT
IT WAS NORTHERN ONTARIO
THAT YOU SHOULD
BRING THAT BACK TO?
WHAT WAS IT THERE?

Claire says SEE, MY ORIGIN IS
FROM NORTHERN ONTARIO.
AND THE REASON I WOULD
WANT TO COME BACK
TO NORTHERN ONTARIO IS
BECAUSE OF ALFIE AND BARNEY.
I HAD... I MEAN, THOSE
RELATIONSHIPS WERE VERY,
VERY STRONG, AND
IRREVOCABLE AT THAT POINT.
YOU KNOW, I REALLY KNEW
SOMEHOW THAT'S WHERE
I WANTED MY LIFE TO BE,
WAS WITH THESE PEOPLE,
WITH BARNEY AND ALFIE.
INITIALLY, WHEN I WENT TO FRANCE,
I DIDN'T REALIZE I WAS
GOING TO COME BACK
AND MAYBE START SOMETHING.
I WASN'T TOO SURE HOW.
I JUST KNEW SOMEHOW I
HAD MADE SOME KIND
OF COMMITMENT TO
BOTH OF THESE MEN,
AND I KNEW I COULDN'T
LEAVE THEM IN THERE.
SOMEHOW I WOULD HAVE TO
GET THEM OUT BECAUSE
I HAD TRIED TO MAKE THEIR
LIFE HAPPY FOR A YEAR,
AND THAT REALLY HADN'T WORKED.
IT WAS KIND OF A DEAD END.
I KNEW I HAD TO DO THAT.
SO WHAT I SAID TO BARNEY,
"I'M GOING BACK TO FRANCE"...
ESPECIALLY AFTER THE FIRST
YEAR, BECAUSE HE EXPECTED ME
TO COME HOME AND PICK
UP WHERE WE HAD LEFT OFF.
AND I SAID I HAVE TO GO
BACK, BECAUSE I'M NOT READY.
DON'T FORGET AT THE SAME
TIME I WAS ALSO TALKING
TO JEAN VANIER WHO WAS
KIND OF HELPING ME
TO REALLY DISCERN WHEREABOUTS
I WOULD BE CALLED.
AND I REMEMBER AT THE END
OF FIRST YEAR HE JUST
SAYING, "WELL, WE NEED YOU HERE,
BUT ALSO YOU NEED TO
STAY A BIT MORE
SO YOU WILL GAIN A BIT
MORE SELF-CONFIDENCE,
AND FOR THAT EXPERIENCE
TO BE REALLY KIND OF
SOMETHING THAT IS
PART OF YOUR BEING,
SO WHEN YOU GO, AND
YOU START A L'ARCHE
COMMUNITY, THEN YOU CAN
BRING THAT GIFT WITH YOU.
TO FUNCTION IN THE L'ARCHE
COMMUNITY, I MEAN,
YOU REALLY HAVE TO HAVE
TWO FEET ON THE GROUND,
THAT'S FOR SURE."

Against the image of the home, with cars parked in front, a caption reads "Kara
Foyer was opened in North Bay on May 1, 1978, and Manu was opened in August
1988. Five residents live in each home, plus one who lives on her own. Seven
staff, one house coordinator and a director run the two homes.

Claire and her charges sit together and have a meal.

Claire continues ESPECIALLY IN ONTARIO, WE
ARE FUNDED BY COMMUNITY
AND SOCIAL SERVICES,
THE ONTARIO GOVERNMENT.
AND I MEAN, TO BE ABLE
TO START IN NORTH BAY,
FOR EXAMPLE, FIRST OF ALL, I
HAD JUST ARRIVED FROM FRANCE,
AND WE HAD TO ESTABLISH A
BOARD OF DIRECTORS.
AND WE HAVE TO LEARN HOW
TO DEAL WITH JUST
THE WHOLE FUNCTION OF THE BOARD,
JUST LEARN ALL THOSE THINGS,
PLUS WE'RE FUNDED BY THE MINISTRY,
SO WE HAD TO LEARN ALL THE PAPERWORK,
ALL THE BOOKKEEPING, ALL
THE ASPECTS OF BUDGETING.
AT THIS POINT IN NORTH BAY,
I THINK WE'RE IN A BUDGET
OF HALF A MILLION.
SO I MEAN, YOU REALLY
DO HAVE TO KNOW
WHAT YOU'RE ABOUT.
AND YOU HAVE TO LEARN THOSE SKILLS
IF YOU DON'T HAVE THEM ALREADY.
AGAIN, THOSE SKILLS DON'T
JUST STOP AT THE TOP,
BUT ALL THOSE SKILLS HAVE
TO GO RIGHT DOWN THE LINE.
LIKE THE HANDICAPPED
PERSON WHO HAS BEEN
IN AN INSTITUTION HAS NO
IDEA OF MONEY EITHER.
I MEAN, HAS NEVER EVEN
BEEN OUT FOR A HAIRCUT, FOR EXAMPLE.
SO FOR HIM OR HER TO EVEN
BE ABLE TO MANAGE THEIR
OWN MONEY, YOU KNOW, WE
HAVE TO SET UP SOME
KIND OF PROGRAM WHERE THEY
WOULD LEARN ALL THOSE THINGS
BECAUSE IT'S REALLY
IMPORTANT TO BE ABLE
TO GO DOWN TO THE COFFEE...
YOU KNOW... THE CORNER STORE FOR
A COFFEE, OR WHATEVER,
AND KNOW YOU'LL HAVE
TO PUT MONEY OUT.
THAT'S A VERY BASIC
CONCEPT THAT WE HAVE,
BUT IT'S NOT NECESSARILY
THAT THE HANDICAPPED
PERSON HAS THAT BECAUSE
THEY'VE JUST NEVER DEALT WITH IT.
SO IT GOES FROM ALL THE AREAS.
WE TRY AND MUCH AS POSSIBLE
TO MAKE PERSONS AWARE,
AND ABLE TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE
FUNCTIONING OF THE HOUSE.
IT'S A TOTAL FAMILY CONCEPT.
SO FROM THE VERY
BEGINNING IN THE MORNING,
IT DEPENDS...
SOME PEOPLE ARE ABLE
TO WAKE UP TO ALARMS,
AND OTHER PEOPLE AREN'T.
SO EITHER YOU WAKE
THEM UP, OR WHATEVER,
YOU JUST MAKE SURE
THEY'RE UP AND DRESSED
PROPERLY, AND COME
DOWN TO BREAKFAST.
IT ALL DEPENDS.
EVERYBODY IS SO DIFFERENT,
AND AT SUCH DIFFERENT
LEVELS OF FUNCTIONING.
SOME PEOPLE NEED MORE
HELP THAN OTHERS.
WE ASSIST THEM IF THEY NEED HELP
TO MAKE THEIR TOAST OR
WHATEVER, AND EVENTUALLY
DRIVE THEM TO WHERE THEY ARE GOING.
SOME PEOPLE TAKE THE BUSES
IF THEY ARE ABLE TO.
SO IT'S ALL DIFFERENT LEVELS.
AS FAR AS DOING THEIR LAUNDRY,
CLEANING THEIR ROOMS, COOKING,
THEY'RE ALL ASSISTED
UP TO THE POINT
WHERE THEY DON'T NEED THAT.
WE HAVE A COUPLE OF PEOPLE
ALREADY IN OUR COMMUNITY
WHO CAN MANAGE THAT
ON THEIR OWN NOW.
AND TO ACTUALLY COME UP WITH
THE SKILLS OF COOKING
FOR EIGHT PEOPLE,
IT'S SOMETHING WITH WHICH
AN ORDINARY PERSON MIGHT
HAVE SOME DIFFICULTIES,
BUT THEY LEARN THAT.
THEY JUST LEARN THAT THEY
HAVE TO COOK FOR THE HOUSE.

Claire works in the kitchen with her charges, preparing a meal.

Claire continues OVER NORTHERN ONTARIO
WE HAVE DIFFERENT TYPES
OF SHELTERED WORKSHOPS.
MOST OF THEM ARE ADMINISTERED
BY THE ASSOCIATION FOR COMMUNITY LIVING.
AND IN THOSE WORKSHOPS IS
ALL THE DIFFERENT LEVELS
DEPENDING ON THE
FUNCTIONING LEVEL
OF THE PERSONS.
IN SOME AREAS, THERE'S
BASIC LIFE SKILLS,
AND THAT'S EXACTLY
WHAT THEY ARE CALLED,
BASIC LIFE SKILLS, WHERE
PEOPLE WOULD LEARN
MAYBE HOW TO READ,
HOW TO WRITE,
IF THEY ARE ABLE TO DO THAT,
TO RECOGNIZE COLOURS,
TO RECOGNIZE WHAT'S UP,
WHAT'S DOWN, WHAT'S
INSIDE, WHAT'S OUTSIDE,
ALL THOSE BASIC CONCEPTS
THAT WE'VE HAD
AS CHILDREN, AND PEOPLE
HAVE NOT YET HAD
THE OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN.
IN OTHER WORKSHOPS, THEY
HAVE SUBCONTRACTS FOR STORES
OR FACTORIES WHERE
THEY WOULD ASSEMBLE
SOME VERY SIMPLE THINGS,
OR PUT CANDIES IN BAGS.
IN OTHER WORKSHOPS,
THEY HAVE MARVELLOUS
THINGS GOING ON.
FOR EXAMPLE, THEY
MAKE WOOD FURNITURE.
THEY HAVE A SMALL
RESTAURANT THAT
THEY OPERATE AS WELL.
SO THERE'S A KITCHEN,
AND THEY ACTUALLY
GET TO SERVE PERSONS.
THEY ALSO HAVE ANOTHER
AREA IN THE WORKSHOP
WHERE IT'S ACTUAL
WORK-SUPPORT PROGRAM.
SO THEY WOULD GO RIGHT
INTO THE COMMUNITY
WITH SOME PERSONS THEY FEEL
ARE READY TO BE EMPLOYED
IN THE COMMUNITY, AND
THEY WOULD SUPPORT THEM
RIGHT THERE, AND
EVENTUALLY WITHDRAW
SOME OF THE SUPPORT SO THAT
PERSON WOULD BE ABLE
TO CONTINUE THAT JOB INDEPENDENTLY.

Eva says THE ESSENCE OF CLAIRE
TRAHAN IS ROOTED
IN THE LARGE FAMILY WHO
SUPPORTED HER WHILE
TRUSTING HER TO MAKE
DECISIONS THAT INFLUENCED
ITS AND HER GROWTH.

A family photo shows the numerous members of the large family.

Eva continues BOTH HER FAMILY AND HER
EXPERIENCE WITH JEAN VANIER
CONTRIBUTED TO THE
VOCATION SHE NOW FOLLOWS.
SO DID THE DISTANT VOICES
OF ALF AND BARNEY,
WHO TAUGHT HER THAT EVERY
LIFE IS AN UNREPEATABLE
AND SINGULAR GIFT.

Claire says MOST HANDICAPPED
PERSONS WHO HAVE
INSTITUTIONALIZED HAVE
EITHER LOST THEIR FRENCH
LANGUAGE, OR AT
LEAST THE FLUENCY
TO BE ABLE TO JUST GO AHEAD.
BUT I THINK WE DO REALLY
HAVE TO PROVIDE HOMES
WHERE THAT FRENCH
LANGUAGE CAN JUST BE
THE LANGUAGE THAT IS SPOKEN.
BECAUSE, FOR EXAMPLE,
WITH JEANNE D'ARQUE
IN OUR HOME, ALTHOUGH
SHE HAS ADAPTED,
AND SHE'S BEEN ON PROGRAMS
TO LEARN ENGLISH,
YOU KNOW, I MEAN SHE HAS
THINGS LIKE, "I WANT,
AND WHATEVER," SO SHE
CAN EXPRESS HERSELF,
IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT
FOR HER TO BE IN A HOME
WHERE SHE CAN JUST
SPEAK THAT, YOU KNOW,
AND THAT WOULD BE
THE LANGUAGE SPOKEN.
I THINK ONE TIME, A
COUPLE OF YEARS AGO,
IT WAS LA SEMAINE
FRANCAISE IN NORTH BAY,
AND WE WENT WITH HER
TO A BEAN SUPPER
WITH ENTERTAINMENT.
AND ALL OF US WHERE THERE,
EVEN THE ENGLISH-SPEAKING
ASSISTANTS WERE
ALL THERE WITH HER.
AN JEANNE D'ARQUE JUST
CAME INTO HER OWN.
I MEAN, BECAUSE SHE WAS
IN HER OWN CULTURE,
SHE KNEW ALL THE SONGS.
SHE WAS UP THERE DANCING.
SHE WAS UP AT THE MIKE.
I MEAN, PEOPLE COULD NOT
BELIEVE IT... HOW THIS LADY
ALL OF A SUDDEN JUST "CAME
OUT OF HERSELF," YOU KNOW?
AND I REMEMBER SOME OF THE
ASSISTANTS SAYING TO ME,
WHAT IS THIS?
I JUST SAID, "SHE'S AT HOME."
THAT'S WHAT IT IS.
SHE'S REALLY AT HOME.
SO I REMEMBER TALKING
ABOUT IT AFTER AT ONE
OF THE MEETINGS JUST SAYING
WOULDN'T IT BE WONDERFUL
IF WE COULD PROVIDE
THIS FOR JEANNE DARQUE,
THAT THIS WOULD BE THE
MILIEU SHE LIVES IN ALL
THE TIME, YOU KNOW?
AND IT REALLY WAS
BORN OUT OF THAT.
JUST SAYING OUR PROJECT,
THE VERY NEXT ONE,
SHOULD BE THE "FRENCH."

Claire stands pouring some coffee in the workshop. A caption reads "Plans for
a French L'Arche home in North Bay are currently on hold."

Claire continues IN FACT, WHEN WE STARTED
L'ARCHE NORTH BAY,
I THINK PERHAPS, NOT KNOWINGLY,
BUT I DID REESTABLISH,
IN L'ARCHE NORTH BAY,
I ESTABLISHED ALL
THOSE STRUCTURES,
THAT WHOLE FAMILY CONCEPT.
AND I DO HAVE A REAL
SENSE OF BELONGING
IN NORTH BAY CERTAINLY.
IN L'ARCHE NORTH BAY,
I CAN'T EVEN ENVISION
MYSELF IN ANOTHER WAY OF LIFE.
IT'S A VOCATION, IN A WAY,
BUT IT'S A VOCATION
I FEEL ABSOLUTELY AT
HOME IN, YOU KNOW?
WHEN I'M AWAY, AND
I COME HOME, I MEAN,
IT'S MARVELLOUS TO SEE PEOPLE.
IT'S COMING HOME.
IT JUST IS, YOU KNOW?
JUST THE SAME WITH
OTHER PERSONS.
IT'S NOT JUST FOR ME.
THERE'S A SAYING IN L'ARCHE,
"IF YOU'RE NOT THERE, YOU'RE MISSED."
IT'S DEFINITELY TRUE.

Eva says IF YOU HAD THE CHANCE
TO SAY WHAT WAS THE MOST
IMPORTANT CONTRIBUTION
OR THING YOU WOULD
WANT TO SAY, WHAT WOULD
YOU LIKE IT TO BE?
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SAY?

Claire says I THINK MAYBE
IT'S IN THE AREA
OF PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS.
BECAUSE TO LIVE AT L'ARCHE,
FOR ME, PERSONALLY,
HAS REALLY OPENED UP
THE WHOLE AREA OF
FATEFULNESS, OF CONSISTENCY,
BEING ABLE TO SAY TO
SOMEBODY "YOU MEAN
AS MUCH TO ME AS
I MEAN TO YOU."
WHEN I THINK OF BARNEY AND
ALFIE, FOR EXAMPLE,
WELL, BARNEY IS STILL
WITH US TODAY.
AND I MEAN TO BE ABLE TO
SAY TO BARNEY THAT
HE MEANS AS MUCH TO
ME AS I DO TO HIM,
IT'S A VERY LONG-LASTING RELATIONSHIP.
I'VE KNOWN BARNEY NOW
FOR ALMOST 22 YEARS.
AND IT'S TRUE.
SOMETIMES, YOU KNOW,
AS THERE IS IN EVERY
RELATIONSHIP, THERE ARE
LITTLE THINGS WE SAY,
WE HURT EACH OTHER'S FEELINGS,
YOU HAVE TO KNOW HE HAS
AS MUCH POWER TO HURT
MY FEELINGS AS I
HAVE TO HURT HIS.
IT'S A VERY SOLID RELATIONSHIP.
AND THAT'S WHAT WE'RE
ALL LOOKING FOR IN LIFE.
IT'S THAT RELATIONSHIP
THAT SOMEHOW WILL MAKE US STABLE.
THAT WILL MAKE US GROW AS A PERSON.
SOME PERSONS WILL REMAIN...
I HATE TO USE THE WORD
"WOUNDED," BUT THEY WILL
REMAIN IN THAT KIND OF SITUATION
FOR THEIR LIVES,
AND THAT'S THE RISK WE
HAVE TO TAKE, YOU KNOW?
SOME OF US ARE NOT
GOING TO PROGRESS.
AND CAN YOU STILL STAY?
AND I THINK THEY CAN.
CERTAINLY AS LONG AS THEY'RE
NOT BEING DETRIMENTAL
TO THE COMMUNITY.
BECAUSE WE CAN'T ASK
THE OTHER PERSONS EITHER
TO LIVE IN VIOLENCE.
BUT SOMEHOW WE DO
ALL WE CAN, ANYWAY,
TO GIVE THEM THE SECURITY
THEY NEED SO THEY CAN
BECOME FULL MEMBERS AND BE
ABLE TO PARTICIPATE
AND GO TOWARDS AUTONOMY.

(Gentle guitar music plays)
Over shots of the lake shore and the Paterson complex, the End Credits roll.

Produced by Jim Hanley, Jim Hyder.

Directed by Dan Robinson.

Written by Patricia Michael.

Editor, Patrick Malone.

Post-Production Facilities, TVOntario.

Executive for TVOntario, Marjorie Robinson.

Executive Producer, Jim Hanley.

A Co-Production of TVOntario and Sleeping Giant Productions.

The Ontario Educational Communications Authority. 1991.

Watch: Claire Trahan