Canadian-Cuban Friendship Association Toronto

The Cuban Project - Therapeutic Clowns
Friday, 09 July 2021 22:50


2006 to 2021

Bonnie Eccles, Adrienne Hunter, ‘Tim’ Cremata,

and Bunky/Joan Barrington

Summer 2008 Serendipity!

Through Bonnie Eccles, Teacher, Travel Agent,
Joan Barrington, Founder, Fundraiser, Trainer and Therapeutic Clown ‘Bunky’ of The Therapeutic Clown Program at SickKids (in Toronto) meets
Dr Adrienne Hunter, PhD, Canadian Language Advisor to The Cuban Ministry of Public Health, at a party in Guelph.
Adrienne asks Joan ‘What is a therapeutic clown?’

Joan’s explanation of therapeutic clowning prompts Adrienne to invite Joan and Bunky to come to Cuba and play with her husband, Lionel, who has suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and does not speak.

Some weeks later, Joan shows Adrienne the educational therapeutic clowning video  ‘Beyond Laughter’. Adrienne realizes the impact this video would have in Cuba. She decides to make a Spanish version and take it to Havana.

Back in Cuba, Adrienne shows the video to Carlos Alberto ‘Tim’ Cremata, Founder and Director of La Colmenita (Little Beehive), Cuban Children’s National Theatre Company. He is enthusiastic about Joan's work.

Winter 2009

Through an invitation from Adrienne, Joan travels with ‘Bunky’ to Cuba to play with her husband Lionel. The interaction and connection with Lionel produces a positive response. He speaks for the first time!

During this visit, Joan, as Founder and Director of Therapeutic Clowns International (TCI), meets Carlos ‘Tim’ Cremata. He is eager to get involved and find a way to introduce therapeutic clowning into Cuba. A Round Table meeting takes place with ‘Tim’ and his staff at the headquarters of La Colmenita.

Fall 2010

Cremata arranges for Joan to demonstrate therapeutic clowning at the Wm. Soler Pediatric Hospital. The video ‘Beyond Laughter’ is shown to the hospital Director. He is enthusiastic about this new model of clowning, so different from clowns that periodically visit his hospital to entertain the children in a theatre setting.

Spring 2012

At the invitation of Cremata, Joan and her Mexican TCI colleague, Lucy Ibarra, Clinical Psychologist and Actor, offer a one-week workshop on the fundamental aspects of therapeutic clowning to 12 adult instructors from La Colmenita. Adrienne and Bonnie take part as TCI observers and recorders.


The Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP) through PAMI ((Programa de Atencion Materno Infantil, Programme for Maternal Child Care) request a proposal from Joan for the inclusion of health-care personnel in the training of therapeutic clowns.

The proposal is accepted in January 2013. Joan prepares to return to Havana with Lucy Ibarra.

Spring 2013

A TCI-MINSAP two-week workshop is held at the Wm. Soler Hospital. This is the first workshop requested by PAMI of the Ministry of Public Health to train therapeutic clowns to work in children’s hospitals throughout Cuba. The 12 participants include psychologists, physical rehabilitators, professional clowns, actors and three of La Colmenita trainees from the previous workshop in 2012.

Contact is made with the Cruzada por la Alegria (Crusade for Happiness) of hospital clowns working in Santiago de Cuba. Their Director, Dr. Manuel Verdecia, Oncologist, visits the workshop to observe the TCI model of therapeutic clowning and presents his Cruzada model.


Summer 2013

The 'La Colmenita Project' begins therapeutic clowning in the children's ward of the Cancer Hospital, in Havana one day a week, and the 'Wm. Soler Project' establishes a Therapeutic Clown Centre, and two trainees clown twice a week in that hospital.

Fall 2013

A third workshop is held at the Wm. Soler hospital. Adrienne Hunter attends and reports to Joan. The two instructors are Joan’s Cuban trainees: Aniet Venereo from the 2012 workshop, and Reyna de la Paz Campos from the 2013 workshop.

Many of the 16 participants are subsequently incorporated into the ‘Wm. Soler Project’. Three new projects begin at three different children’s hospitals in Havana.

Spring 2014

The 'La Colmenita Project' travels to Santa Clara to demonstrate therapeutic clowning to the Expressive Arts Project, Por Una Sonrisa (For a Smile), centred at the Las Villas provincial pediatric hospital. The Director, Tanya Ortega Hernandez, expresses interest in incorporating therapeutic clowns into their project. This takes place nine months later.


The 'Wm. Soler Project' makes a presentation of therapeutic clowning at the International Longevity Conference held at the Havana Convention Centre. They also participate in the Festival de Narices Rojas (the Red Nose Festival) in Matanzas. The 'La Colmenita Project' is featured at the Clown Festival in Las Tunas as therapeutic clowns.

Winter 2015

In February, Joan Barrington returns to Cuba with her professional clown persona, Bunky, to shadow and supervise the two Cuban therapeutic clowns whom she trained in 2012 and 2013, and who have become trainers. She is accompanied by Adrienne Hunter, now TCI Representative in Cuba, and Bonnie Eccles, now TCI Administrator. The TCI members are joined by Dra. Milagros Dominguez of PAMI (Programa de Atencion Materno Infantil, Programme for Maternal Child Care, of MINSAP) and the two Cuban trainers, Aniet Venereo and Reyna de la Paz Campos.

They embark on a cross-country tour to visit two existing hospital clown projects in Santiago de Cuba, directed by Dr. Manuel Verdecia and Dr. Eduardo Montoya. After exchanging information and experience with these two projects, the six-member Canadian-Cuban group goes on to Santa Clara. Here, the new Cuban trainers, Aniet and Reyna, offer a one-week workshop to members of the Expressive Arts Project. Joan is pleased with their progress and development.

At the end of the tour, the First Meeting of the Group of Therapeutic Clowns of Cuba is held in Havana with representatives of the existing seven projects nationwide. The Group of Therapeutic Clowns of Cuba is formally organized and Aniet Venereo is elected National Coordinator, with three regional coordinators (western, central and eastern).


Aniet Venereo, Adrienne Hunter and Joan Barrington present the paper   'Building a Therapeutic Clown Community in Cuba' at the International Meeting of Healthcare Clowning (HCIM 2016) in Lisbon, Portugal. Important international relationships are established during this conference, with future visits to Cuba from some of these participants.

FALL 2016

Joan Barrington is the Keynote Speaker at the Scientific Meeting of Therapeutic Clowns of Cuba in Santiago de Cuba, October 2016.                      Adrienne Hunter presents the Montreal, Canada Jovia video, La Belle Visite.

Joan and Aniet are requested by Dr. Manuel Verdecia to give a one-week pre-meeting workshop to train their hospital clowns in the TCI Model of therapeutic clowning.  Laura Fernandez joins this workshop as a Guest Trainer from Germany.

SPRING  2017

The unexpected rapid growth of therapeutic clowning in Cuba overwhelms the resources of PAMI.  Sponsorship is transferred to the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, both part of MINSAP.

Therapeutic clowning is recognized as a legitimate therapy.

Marianne Clarac of Rire Medicin, France visits Havana and offers a three-day workshop on the intricacies of therapeutic clowning with infants. Aniet Venereo organizes the workshop with representation of all the therapeutic clown projects in Cuba.

FALL 2018

The Group of Therapeutic Clowns of Cuba and the Cardio Centre of the              Wm. Soler Ledea Children's Teaching Hospital in Havana announce the                                  First Cuban Congress of Therapeutic Clowns:  Art and Health 2018 to be held in Havana, Cuba, October 17 to 19, 2018.

The Keynote Speaker is the Canadian Director of Jovia, Montreal, Melissa Holland. Eight Canadian therapeutic clowns participate in this Congress. Joan Barrington, TCI, and Sarah Patterson, SickKids, Toronto present a paper entitled ‘Partners in Play’ (the relationship between the therapeutic clown and the Child Life Specialist).

2019, 2020, 2021

Plans are being made for a Second Cuban Congress of Therapeutic Clowns to be held in October 2021.
Because of Covid-19, this is postponed to January 2022.

Last Updated on Friday, 09 July 2021 22:52
Petition to the Government of Canada against the US Blockade of Cuba
Saturday, 29 May 2021 21:21

Please sign the petition to Canadian government to respect Cuba's Sovereignty.

The petition (e-3456) to the Government of Canada Against U.S.. Economic Blockade of Cuba and Canada-Cuba Relations

is now open for signatures.

The link to the petition is:




Initiated by Isaac Saney from Halifax, Nova Scotia

Original language of petition: English

Petition details follows below:

Petition to the Government of Canada


  • The government of the United States has imposed economic sanctions, amounting to an economic war, against Cuba for more than 60 years, constituting the principal obstacle to Cuba’s social and economic development, having cost in excess of $100 billion;
  • The Government of the United States has pressured and coerced other countries to participate in its regime of economic sanctions against Cuba;
  • The United States economic sanctions and the campaign of subversion against Cuba are a violation of international law, the right of self-determination and the human rights of the people of Cuba; and
  • Since 1992, the international community, including Canada, has rejected United States economic sanctions against Cuba through overwhelming votes in the United Nations General Assembly.

We, the undersigned, citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to:

1. Call on the Government of the United States to end all economic sanctions against Cuba;

2. Call on the Government of the United States to cease its campaign of subversion and policy of hostility and aggression against Cuba;

3. Call on the Government of the United States to remove Cuba from the United States Department of State’s List of State Sponsors of Terror;

4. Take immediate steps and actions through the implementation and enforcement of, among others, the Foreign Extraterritorial Measures Act, in order to preserve Canadian sovereignty and ensure that Canadian companies and other entities do not participate in United States economic sanctions against Cuba; and

5. Ensure that its relations with Cuba be based on equality and the respect of sovereignty, independence and the right of self-determination.


Open for signature

May 28, 2021, at 9:30 a.m. (EDT)

Closed for signature

September 25, 2021, at 9:30 a.m. (EDT)

Member of Parliament

Niki Ashton

Churchill—Keewatinook Aski

New Democratic Party Caucus


Medical Supplies for Cuba campaign
Wednesday, 14 April 2021 16:34

The Medical Supplies for Cuba campaign
launched by the Canadian Network on Cuba and its members across Canada and friends on January 8th has surpassed its goal of $50,000 and has added another container to send to Cuba.  We have received funds from 137 different individuals and organizations including unions

As of April 12th,  $79,192.60 has been received and will cover a shipment of syringes, as well as help in the purchase of additional medical supplies in another container.

The CNC is delighted to report that it is sending to Cuba a 40 foot container of 1,920,000 syringes.  Each syringe package will have the CNC logo printed on it. In addition, a second container is being filled here with various PPE and medical equipment.

A big thank you to everyone for their outstanding and continuing support.

.Please continue to promote this really important campaign of material medical solidarity with Cuba

Here is info re donating money by cheque or e-transfer:

1) mail cheque payable to:   CNC

and in the memo line, write:  medical supplies

address:         c/o Sharon Skup, Treasurer        56 Riverwood Terrace    Bolton ON   L7E 1S4

2)  email transfer;   
send to:    This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

IMPORTANT: We must have the secret answer/password ( exact spelling )   in order to open the e-transfer. The banks say not to have it easy to guess in case of hacking. The answer can be of no relation to the question.

Phone or Send it in a separate email  so Sharon can accept the money.

Thanks in advance  Sharon  905.951.8499     This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 April 2021 17:23
Medical Donations to Cuba campaign ongoing
Monday, 05 October 2020 19:21

Donacion Medica a Cuba. Medical Donation to Cuba

This container project started on September 4 by just our asociation JGG.

We loaded a 20" container with medical supplies, hospital beds and a lot of clinical tables.  After our post on FB we received a call from Norman offering to help and so we started collecting from NJT(Not Just Tourists) groups around Toronto, Durham, etc. Due to high volume and quality of the Items we decided to change our container from 20" to 40.”

The process has been exhaustive due to the classification and re-packaging but we are very happy optimists and proud of what we've achieved and also with the different groups of Solidarity with Cuba that are helping, We have fotos of the process from the beginning.

Our Goal is to sail it by October 20 in celebration of Cuban Cultural Day.

Right now we just need fundraising to pay the cost of the container.

Thank you and also the Chile Organization in Montreal.

Fuerte abrazo Solidario,         Teresita.    This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Here is info re donating money by cheque or e-transfer:

1) mail cheque payable to::   CCFA Toronto

address:         c/o Sharon Skup, Treasurer        56 Riverwood Terrace    Bolton ON   L7E 1S4

2)  email transfer;    send to:    This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

We must have the secret answer/password ( exact spelling )   in order to open the e-transfer

Phone or Send it in a separate email  so she can accept the money.

Thanks in advance  Sharon  905.951.8499    This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Canadians Take on Trump
Thursday, 10 September 2020 12:44

"Canadians Take on Trump"

For Immediate Release        10 September, 2020

Baseball season is starting in Cuba, but in his desperate attempt to be re-elected - Trump's actions and the global pandemic have made the purchase of the basic tools of Cuba’s national sport – baseball impossible.

In the past 12 months Donald Trump has openly attacked the people of Cuba. In the midst of a global pandemic he continues to tighten the illegal, immoral US blockade against innocent people. Here are a few examples.

-Shipments of medical supplies have been blocked or cancelled.

-Remittances to family members in Cuba are almost impossible due to threats from US Treasury Dept. Trump has even stopped Western Union from transferring funds to Cuba from Canada (which is illegal under International law to apply US laws to other countries).

-All charter flights between US and Cuba have been stopped.

-Little Havana coffee wagon in Toronto selling Cuban produced coffee lost $14,000 of transfers from Square Canada, a US affiliate.

-Amazon was fined $134,000 for selling to members of the Cuban delegation in Washington.

-After 3 ½ years the GoFundMe account for Cubacan 2020 was closed under threat from the Treasury Department.

Cubacan Bats and the Canadian Network on Cuba (CNC) have joined forces to supply much needed baseball bats to the Cuban Baseball Federation for the National Baseball Series that starts today, September 12

Elizabeth Hill, Co-chair of the Canadian Network on Cuba noted “This is the 60th Anniversary of the Series and a critical period in the preparation of their players for the 2021 Olympics.”

Over one million Canadians visit Cuba each year. Many of us are repeat visitors and have many friends there. Cubacan 6060 will encourage Canadians to “buy a bat for Cuba”, by going to and follow the instructions.

For more information please contact,

Bill Ryan Cubacan Bats This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it 613-284-0254
Elizabeth Hill c
o-chair, Canadian Network on Cuba    This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it 416.654.7105

Last Updated on Thursday, 10 September 2020 17:04
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