• Battle of Passchendaele (N/A, Ontario ) - November 10, 2021 November 10, 2021
    Canadians have a proud history of bravely serving in the cause of peace and freedom over the years. A name from Canada's First World War military heritage that still stirs emotions is “Passchendaele.” On a muddy battlefield in northwest Belgium, Canadians overcame almost unimaginable hardships to win an impressive victory in the fall of 1917. […]
    Government of Canada; Veterans Affairs Canada
  • Battle of the Scheldt (N/A, Ontario ) - October 2, 2021 October 2, 2021
    The Battle of the Scheldt was a military operation in northern Belgium and southwestern Netherlands that took place during the Second World War. On September 12, 1944, the First Canadian Army was given the task of clearing the Scheldt of German occupiers. The first attacks began on September 13, with little success. Click here to […]
    Government of Canada; Veterans Affairs Canada
  • Dieppe Raid (N/A, Ontario ) - August 19, 2021 August 19, 2021
    The Raid on Dieppe, France, on August 19, 1942, was a pivotal moment in the Second World War. With virtually all of continental Europe under German occupation, the Allied forces faced a well-entrenched enemy. Some method had to be found to create a foothold on the continent, and the Raid on Dieppe offered invaluable lessons […]
    Government of Canada; Veterans Affairs Canada
  • The 76th Anniversary of end of war in the Pacific - Hong Kong Veterans Commemorative Association (Ottawa, Ontario ) - August 15, 2021 August 15, 2021
    The Hong Kong Veterans Commemorative Association will be hosting a commemorative ceremony on on August 15, 2021 at 0930am, to honour the Veterans of the Defense of Hong Kong and to mark the 76th year of Victory over Japan and the end of the Second World War.   The ceremony will be held at the Hong […]
    Government of Canada; Veterans Affairs Canada
  • VJ-Day / End of the Second World War (N/A, Ontario ) - August 15, 2021 August 15, 2021
    August 15, 1945 marked the end of the war in the Pacific and the end of the Second World War. Click here to discover more on the Second World War: Second World War - Veterans Affairs Canada
    Government of Canada; Veterans Affairs Canada
  • Veteran's Appreciation Golf Tournament (Milton, Ontario ) - August 15, 2021 August 15, 2021
    Come and show your appreciation and support for our Veterans! All veterans will have the entire day compliments of Granite Ridge Golf Club and The Albatross Restaurant. Non Veteran Fee is $75 (includes dinner and golf)
    Government of Canada; Veterans Affairs Canada
  • Battle of Hill 70 (N/A, Ontario ) - August 15, 2021 August 15, 2021
    Canadian soldiers saw heavy action in the First World War and the names of some of their major battles—like Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele—still resonate today in our country's collective memory. An important chapter in our wartime history that is less well remembered, however, came at Hill 70 in France where the Canadian Corps won an […]
    Government of Canada; Veterans Affairs Canada
July 27, 2021

Veterans News

Remember Everyone Deployed

How therapeutic clowns are making a difference for Canadian veterans

2 min read

Oh, thank you and look at you! You’re wearing my favorite tie! In a quiet room in Sunnybrook’s Veterans Centre, Helen Donnelly and Phil Koole transform into their alter egos: Kat and Yope. A few minutes later, they start their work with the residents living on the unit. But make no mistake: this is not just fun and games. So top three misconceptions about our profession: that we are volunteers, that we are undertrained and that we are fluff. Helen is an award-winning professional therapeutic clown and her career has brought her from the stage of Cirque du Soleil to now spearheading the first North American certificate program for therapeutic clowning. This unique George Brown College Program is now being trialed at Sunnybrook’s Veterans Centre. We use connectivity, light, joy through the art of clown in order to make a connection with those in care. And because we are professional physical theatre artists, we’re able to go into those worlds of the imagination and really connect to that quality of care piece. She says therapeutic clowns are trained arts in health practitioners, backed by research supporting the benefits to patients, including reduced isolation, pain and stress.

Period clothing familiar to the veterans is an intentional move. Katherine Baldwin, manager of recreation and creative arts therapies says, many residents are living with dementia, and the clowning helps reach them in a new way. A lot of what they tune into are picking up on those subtle moments of engagement, so I think it’s a way of reaching a population of people who are hard to reach. Each three hour shift on the unit means additional hours of background prep, working with staff and getting to know each resident’s medical history, interests and overall behavior. All interactions and reactions are then charted for the medical team. Students in the program initially shadow Helen and her colleague before clowning alongside them.

The final stage is partnering with a fellow student while being supervised, evaluated and debriefed afterwards. The program will be evaluated at the end of the school year in May. For now, Helen says every visit is a chance to connect with a veteran, no matter their physical or cognitive abilities. To get to this place is just a beautiful dream come true. With Sunnyview, I’m Monica Matys. .

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