In his early seventies after working all of his life, Ernest Canton chose to go back to school to get his Masters of Divinity degree. He took his courses at the University of St. Michael’s College in Toronto. There, Ernest met the former Executive Director of L’Arche Canada Foundation, with whom he is still close friends. As part of his “Spirituality and Culture” course, the book “Becoming Human” was on the reading list. Reading this book was the first time Ernest was exposed to the philosophy of L’Arche’s founder, Jean Vanier:
“I was so impressed, it just blew my mind, how this man who descended from a very prominent couple would give of himself to everyone else when he welcomed the two men with disabilities in France and opened the first L’Arche house.”, said Ernest.
Learning this story made him a devoted supporter of L’Arche. A few years ago, Ernest visited L’Arche Daybreak in Richmond Hill and took a tour of their community. He got to meet many core members. “Especially when I went into The Woodery and I saw one fellow, Jason, he was so excited, just the enthusiasm when they see people, you can’t help to love them” said Ernest.
“I was just so amazed by their warmth. I was advised to: ‘Let them approach you, as they might get frightened’. I met one fellow in this forties in a wheelchair, he reached out and grabbed my hand and I think he was just so much more genuine than people who do not live with a disability. This is why I am concerned about them and I want to make sure that what Jean Vanier started will continue on.”
Meeting L’Arche core members and having read Jean Vanier’s books, Ernest knew that he had to somehow contribute in a meaningful way to L’Arche. Since he had no children of his own, Ernest decided that L’Arche was one of four charitable organizations that he was going to leave his legacy to.
We asked Ernest why others should consider to leaving a gift to L’Arche in their wills, to which he answered:
“Because we cannot take anything with us. Unfortunately, materialism is necessary to care for people and I would say that when someone is truly caring and is financially able to, they should consider helping the people who live in L’Arche.”
“If Jean Vanier, the son of a former Canadian governor general, can do this why should we not give what we have to help these people get by through life? What’s important to me is to give to others who are in need. I want to see those people who live in L’Arche be cared for, not only financially but also spiritually. So whatever I’ve got, no matter how much it is, I want it to go to good organizations, particularly to L’Arche. I truly love them!”
A dream for Ernest would be to meet Jean Vanier someday in person.