Our History

The story of L’Arche in the Comox Valley began over 25 years ago with Lock and Joanne Mawhinney.

A well-known educator, principal and pioneer in Special Needs education, Lock realized that efforts to give people with developmental disabilities access to education was only a partial solution. After they left school, they were isolated, lacking any meaningful relationships outside their families.

The L’Arche model came to the couple’s attention. They were inspired by L’arche’s unique vision of community inclusion and the way they saw people’s lives enriched by belonging. Other like-minded people joined them, and in 1993 the Friends of L’Arche Comox Valley was registered as a non-profit society.

In 2000
The Friends of L’Arche Comox Valley opens Jubilee House, a home for four core members and the assistants who live with them. They are officially recognized as a L’Arche community!

In 2006
L’Arche CV opens a community hub to reach out to the wider community. The success of this centre draws attention to the need for safe and affordable housing for people with diverse abilities. 

In 2012
L’Arche CV launches its I Belong! campaign with the goal of raising sufficient funds to build a multi-use facility. The vision is for a facility to house the community hub, administration offices, and suites for adults with diverse abilities who are able to live independently with some support. 

In 2017
The I Belong Centre opens its doors to the Comox Valley community, and six people with diverse abilities move into their own suites. The community hub moves its creative arts program into bright, new studios, and the L’Arche community is able to gather in a spacious multi-purpose room with an adjoining kitchen. 

In 2019
L’Arche CV purchases a nearby property with the aim of building more housing and replicating the success of the I Belong Centre.

Get Involved


You can become a friend of the Community and participate in our different events throughout the year, such as our weekly community prayer and potluck on Tuesday evenings.


L’Arche Comox Valley relies on the support of others who are like-hearted in living our mission. We need funds to ensure the functionality of our residences and offices.

Work and Live as an Assistant

More than a caregiver, the assistant shares his or her life with people who are less autonomous.  Each year, we welcome assistants to join our community, usually for a one-year commitment.