The first L'Arche home opened in Trosly, France in 1964 in a previously abandoned small cottage. The first community provided a home in the truest sense of the word for its first four inhabitants and was a response to greater society's call to bring people with intellectual disabilities out of the degrading conditions of institutions. No longer were people with disabilities seen as something shameful that needed to be quarantined, but as full human beings inherently deserving of respect.
Word quickly spread. Young people from around the world came to the Trosly-Breuil community to also share lives with people who had a disability. By 1975, the L'Arche model had become a fast-growing global moment. Over 30 additional communities emerged in France, Canada, India, Africa and Haiti.
Now, L’Arche communities are all over the world. L’Arche came to Canada in 1969 when a community called Daybreak was founded in Toronto. There are now 29 communities spread across the country in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Each community is composed of two to eight homes, day programs and workshops and in some cases a spiritual center.
The Calgary community was founded in 1973, and includes five homes, a Day Program, and Supported Independent Living Program.
Sr. Donna-Marie Perry FCJ, Delphine Lemire, and Pat and Jo Lenon founded L’Arche Calgary. The decision to start L’Arche was made without knowing how it would be funded and how we would find assistants. Our first home was given to us and L’Arche has continued to grow and develop since that time.