“We are very frightened of vulnerability, of difference - and the danger is that we don't see the person behind the label. We put labels on people and because the label is there we don't see the person. We can all be hiding behind labels.”

JEAN VANIER, Address to the Business Community, April '05

Our Inspiration:

Dr. Jean Vanier is a prominent Canadian who is a philosopher, engaged theologian, writer, and moral leader. His ideas are rooted in his Catholic faith, and in a testament to their strength, those ideas have been taken up and blossomed in communities of all faiths. He is the founder of L’Arche, and Faith & Light: two life-sharing movements and communities for people with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities.  He is a popular public intellectual, author of dozens of books and a radical disability advocate. A small sample of awards he has received include the Templeton Prize, the highest Order of Canada, many honorary doctorates, the top ten Canadians of all time list, and recently, the inter-faith Adyan award.

Connection to King’s & Disability Studies

Jean Vanier’s thoughts align well with the King’s mission as he takes inspiration from Catholic social thought in his emphasis on presence and communion with those who are different from you, genuine inclusion for those who are marginalized, and the value of all humans with their diverse capacities and vulnerabilities.  Vanier has been speaking and writing about the importance and challenge of creating a society that embodies belonging, dignity and recognition of the gifts of those most often marginalized in society. In these and other ways, he echoes central concerns of the Disability Studies (DS) program which sponsors this Centre, as well as the interests of several of our professors, academic departments, the Chaplaincy and Accessibility Services for students.

Partners of the Centre

The Jean Vanier Association (JVA) in France, and Jean Vanier, are committed partners to this Centre. They support the Centre’s activities through funding, document-sharing, promotion, and in-kind supports. L’Arche (Ontario, Canada & International) are also Centre partners who will provide support via expertise, leadership, and resource sharing. Jean and all our partners share a vision of a centre that is independent in order that it maintain its academic credibility.


The purpose of the JVRC is to use an interdisciplinary analysis of Jean Vanier’s applied form of scholarship to catalyze radical change in how people imagine the intrinsic value and social possibilities of those who are disabled or otherwise marginalized by exclusionary societal structures and discriminatory attitudes.


To ensure the strong and original ideas in Jean Vanier’s writing and the way he and his collaborators have enacted them in the world, be studied more fully, systematically, and with interdisciplinary collaboration within the academic sphere. The findings are also disseminated to the general public, centres of learning and among self-advocates.

For questions or more information about the Jean Vanier Research Centre, please email jvrc@kings.uwo.ca