Jean Vanier (b. 1928) is a philosopher, theologian, author and teacher. As the founder of two global communities (L´Arche, Faith and Light) for people with intellectual disabilities, he presents a compelling vision of a fully human life, lived in compassionate community.
Vanier is the son of the 19th Governor General of Canada, Major-General Georges Vanier and was born in Geneva, while his father was on diplomatic service in Switzerland. In his youth and during World War II he served with the Royal Navy and then with the Royal Canadian Navy. As a midshipman, Vanier accompanied the Royal Family on their tour of South Africa aboard HMS Vanguard in 1947.
From 1950, Vanier travelled to Paris, France to study as an undergraduate. He eventually went on to complete a PhD in philosophy from the Institut Catholique de Paris, with a doctoral thesis on Aristotle. He subsequently taught philosophy at the University of Toronto.
In recognition of his contributions and humanness to the marginalized, Jean Vanier has received numerous distinctions and awards including the Companion of the Order of Canada, the Legion of Honour (France) and many awards from faith groups, among them the Paul VI International Prize, the Community of Christ International Peace Award, the Rabbi Gunther Plaut Humanitarian Award and the Gaudium et Spes Award. There are high Schools named after him in Whitehorse, Yukon; London, Ontario; Scarborough, Ontario; Collingwood, Ontario; Richmond Hill, Ontario; Welland, Ontario and a to-be-constructed school in Milton, Ontario. In November 2004, a CBC poll placed him number 12 in a list of Greatest Canadians.
Reference: MPC 70407