One smile
at a time

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In Short

The Caravane Philanthrope is a collective of humanitarian artists closely connected to the communities we work with. Our simple goal is to change the world one smile at a time. Our organization, based in Québec, is composed mostly of Québecois artists but also includes members from across Canada and Europe.

 

Locally, we work with vulnerable children and marginalized communities (homeless persons, hospice residents, First Nations Communities, etc.). Internationally, we travel where we feel we are needed (refugee camps, orphanages, slums, etc.)

 

We offer many varied projects aimed at supporting  the well-being and fulfillment of individuals and the communities they belong to. We do this through artistic and social endeavors that are mainly composed of social circus and humanitarian clown practices.

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Projects and news

Salvador Project (testimony)

  Salvador February 28, 2020 - Report of our artists Vanessa Kneales and Felix Tessier Imbault   A...

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Pandemic Clown: The Adventures of Ti-Cass

Ti-Cass had always been very involved working with hospices and retirement homes. He would go around these places...

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Isolation Breaking Performances for Seniors

Since the beginning of the pandemic, solitude and emotional distress have been prominent issues. Our artists have been...

Read more

Samos Refugee Camp (travel journal)

Guillaume Vermette, humanitarian clown
Samos Refugee Camp (Greece)

 

October 25, 2019 – Day 4

 

We have arrived – Kira Paas, Benoit Gonneville Damme and me. The other half of our team will arrive in about a week. We lend a hand to The Flying Seagull Project, offering shows and all kinds of activities for children, in this big-top tent that we set up right next to the camp.

Already there are so many things I would like to tell you and show you. But for many reasons, I must be very careful in the words and photos I share. What I can tell you is that the situation here is particularly chaotic for the refugees – one of the most difficult I have encountered in my career.

In particular, because many children are completely on their own, with no adult to accompany them. Our days are long and intense, but I can’t see the time passing … because I love my job and because there is such a need to be answered.

I love the Cirque du Samos project (the reason why we are here). It is without a doubt the most impressive and the best organized of all the clown and/or circus projects that I have seen in refugee camps. Many congratulations to the Flying Seagulls for their extraordinary work!

Today several parents came to see me, with stares and affectionate eyes, to thank me in broken English: “Thank you so much! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! This very important. My kids… there. Tents. Bad. Very bad.”

Although we hardly hear much about it anymore…know that the refugee crisis is still present, with horrific consequences, for millions of lives.

 

October 28, 2019 – Day 6 

 

Ali (name changed for anonymity) is about 7 years old. When he’s not with us, he spends his time wandering through the dust and debris. I never saw his parents. I do not know his story, or that of his family…but I imagine the worst.

Because in Ali’s eyes there is constant distress. A sort of pervasive fear and anger ready to explode at any moment. In fact, it often explodes…with much intensity.

I can’t count the number of times he hit me, pulled my hair and spat on me. Several times I had to protect him from his own violence. When it explodes, it gets out of control…he can hurt itself, hang on to moving vehicles, or climb dangerous places.

He’s not different from the other kids we work with…but his trauma is definitely greater…and therefore, his needs are greater. We try to answer them as best we can.

Every time you complete an activity, Ali explodes. He clings to us, screams and knocks…unable to let us go. We have tried all possible strategies and approaches…nothing works! Nothing calms him! We literally have to hide and run away from him, to protect him from himself.

Maybe in a few weeks there will be some progress? So we continue like this.

Each day, we offer 3 activity sessions to children. It usually lasts an hour and it can take all kinds of forms: games, songs, shows, circus workshops, movie night, disco dance, etc.

The Flying Seagull Project  puts a tremendous amount of resources, talent, materials, time and planning into serving these children. It’s really impressive!

As a result, despite the many difficulties and the chaotic context, our activities are still a great success. It’s a veritable storm of smiles and laughter. A stark contrast to the war and the injustices they fled, as well as the horrific context of this refugee camp.

These activities are always offered at the same times. With the same beginning and ending rituals. This happy structure and routine are essential ingredients in the recipe to help these children heal from their trauma.

Yesterday, when leaving an activity, Ali was waiting for us at our vehicle, hanging on the handle. I expected the worst, another huge explosion and crisis to deal with. But no, not this time.

He just gave us a big smile and said, “See you tomorrow.”🙂

November 4, 2019 – Day 14

 

The last week has been extremely demanding.

As if our schedule weren’t already intense enough … with the 3 activities a day that we offer to the children … we set up a second tent and built a floor for the main big-top tent.

We must be prepared for the coming winter, to provide a safe, warm and dry place for children to have the opportunity to be children.

It is still absurd and shocking that our big-top is more comfortable than the tents where the refugees live. Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do about it.

Nevertheless, our activities are a great success! We begin to know children by name, as well as the challenges and specific needs of each.

It’s so relevant to work with The Flying Seagull Project!! These people are specialists in organizing projects and intervening in the most chaotic areas. They have developed expertise and a unique way of working. It’s not complicated, they are the best at it.

For our part, we come with skills that they don’t have: the Circus.

Without them, we would never have managed to put on an air show in the middle of this refugee camp. Without us, they would never have been able to amaze children like this.

When Kira Paas, one of our acrobats, was hung in the air … it was the very first time that these children, with collected trauma, emotional difficulties and behavioural problems, sat in silence. They had wide wide eyes and a smile from ear to ear. 🙂

A particularly moving moment, which confirmed the importance of our presence here … and the result of our hard work, planning this project for months.

THANKS to all the people who help and support us, none of this would be possible without you.

THANKS to all our volunteer artists on this project: Kira PaasPascal Duguay GosselinJohn SoleilPierre-Olivier Hudon et Benoit Gonneville Damme.

And of course, thanks to te whole gang at The Flying Seagull Project.

Xxx

 

 

November 11, 2019 – Day 22

 

I am tired. We work really hard.

It’s lucky that I’m surrounded by an exceptional team.

It’s so easy to work with all these beautiful, talented people. Everyone gives 100% to provide magical moments for children.

Sometimes I try to imagine what their life would be like here without our activities … and it makes me sad. Our presence is definitely the most positive thing in their daily lives.

Every day, we offer a session of games accessible to all, followed by circus workshops (unicycle, acrobatics, aerial fabrics, wire, juggling and so on). And in the evening, a big show, if not a movie night or a disco.

It’s fascinating to see our big-top jam packed with children, in total silence, watching an animated film or enjoying one of our shows.

In this tent and with us… they are good. They feel safe and they can have fun.

All of this right in front of one of the worst refugee camps in Europe. What a contrast. It moves me every time. I have no words to describe the plight of these families … and the injustices and chaos in which they find themselves. I want to get mad. To criticize certain instances. But we are walking on eggshells, in order to have permission to be here and continue our work.

Our priority must remain the well-being of these children.

We hope to be able to get involved here for a long time to come… to continue sending artists with big hearts and great talent… for several more months… or at least, as long as the need is present.

Xxx

 

November 20, 2019 – Day 31

 

After a month in the Samos refugee camp, three members of our team are back in Quebec.Benoit Gonneville Damme, Pierre-Olivier Hudon and myself.

Meanwhile, Pascal Duguay Gosselin et John Soleil will stay on site until the end of December, continuing our collaboration with The Flying Seagull Project. (Hold fast boys, we’re thinking of you!!).

We are really happy to find our families and loved ones, but a little less for the snow! 😉

This first project of our new organization is a success beyond our expectations! It motivates us for the future and opens the door to many other collaborations with the Flying Seagulls, and also other humanitarian organizations.

We are already working on organizing what is to come, a whole bunch of initiatives to make a positive difference … always with refugees in Greece, but also with Burmese refugees in Thailand, with Inuit communities in Canada, young people in El Salvador, marginalized populations in Bolivia… and of course, in Quebec. To be continued!

THANK YOU very much to all of you who support us, encourage us, and give to the cause. Without you, none of this would be possible. THANK YOU!

xxx

 

Salvador Project (testimony)

 

Salvador

February 28, 2020 – Report of our artists Vanessa Kneales and Felix Tessier Imbault

 

A month after our return to Quebec, we have both feet back in our northern reality. We’ve calmly resumed our daily routine, although, the smiles of our Salvadoran partners and friends remain alive in our spirits.

 

Our 2 weeks in Suchitoto were, although very short, wonderful for us and for the young people. Our days were filled with small daily victories on many levels. We collaborated and forged close links with local organizations such as La Plataforma and El Patronato. We also supported the efforts of our local partner Estela Abrego, who gives body and soul every day to keep young people connected and interested in their cultures and origins.

 

It is thanks to these partners that we were able, accompanied by a local guide, to discover the local landscape and in turn, to offer shows to schools where so few artists are present. After our shows, we left much of the circus equipment so our impact would continue. (Big thanks to the donors!)

 

For our part, we left with a ton of smiles and an experience that made us grow not only as clowns, but as human beings.

 

In short, we were able to see direct repercussions of our visit on several levels and we are already thinking about our next visit: more time on site, to be better prepared, bring more resources and hopefully even more partners. We still have a lot of work to do, but when we see the positive impacts of our presence there, it is obvious that the game is worth the effort and that all the fruits of our energy multiplies!

 

Our little clown feet have grown up well during this experience and for now, although bundled up in winter boots, we are slowly but surely preparing them for our next visit to this incredible country. Don’t worry, we’ll keep you posted!

 

Clownily yours,

Felix and Vanessa

 

P.S. We (the Caravan team) can’t say it enough… THANK YOU to all our supporters – for your encouragement, your help and your donations!! Without you, projects like Felix and Vanessa’s in El Salvador would be impossible. xxx

 

Pandemic Clown: The Adventures of Ti-Cass

Ti-Cass had always been very involved working with hospices and retirement homes. He would go around these places to give out smiles to those who live primarily in solitude. Unfortunately, one day, Ti-Cass was told to stay home because the planet had caught a bad cold! Confined to his room, he walked in circles and finally came up with an idea. If he couldn’t meet people inside, he would stroll in the streets and wave hello to all the people he saw!

 

At first, he blew kisses to drivers in their cars, made faces to pharmacists in their display windows and played hide-and-seek with whole families from their front yard while they were stuck in their houses.

 

Since the 23 of March, however, he’s been touring the streets of Trois-Rivières in this way; sometimes it’s improvised, but more and more his appearances are booked in advance. Birthday parties, kindergartens and hospices are only some of the places where he’s given out cheer and happiness. His methods include phone, video-conference or in person, outside.

 

To this day, he is still seen spreading joy wherever he can walk, run, dance or fart!

 

 

Isolation Breaking Performances for Seniors

Since the beginning of the pandemic, solitude and emotional distress have been prominent issues. Our artists have been traveling the province fighting isolation and spreading smiles. Their circus feats and sweet melodies have been appreciated through balconies and windows – a show distanced enough to respect current guidelines, but intimate enough to reach the hearts of our spectators.

 

This service is offered free of charge to hospice residences, retirement homes and community-based organizations. Don’t worry, our artists are compensated thanks to generous donations. This has been, and continues to be, a great way to spread happiness and support culture simultaneously in these difficult times.

 

For more details, you can reach us by email at: fun@caravanephilanthrope.com

 

*Please note that, until further notice, these shows are only offered in the province of Québec.

 

Trapeze and Viola Performances:

 

Circus Performances:

 

Music Performances (Les Deux Autres):

 

Music performances:

 

Projects

Since being founded on October 1st, 2019, we’ve implemented many projects aimed at breaking isolation and spreading happiness among vulnerable children and marginalized populations in Quebec (retirement homes, people experiencing homelessness, etc.) and internationally (refugee camps, orphanages, etc.).

 

We were able to make several humanitarian trips abroad before the Covid-19 pandemic significantly disrupted our activities and forced us to cancel many of our projects. Currently, we have succeeded in adapting our activities in order to get involved locally, while respecting proper health measures and social distancing.

12

PROJECTS

396

PERFORMANCES

37 313

SMILES CREATED

Media Appearances

Guillaume Vermette: Humanitarian Clown Entertaining his Neighbours

April 3, 2020

...the Caravane Philanthrope, with its many artists, brings some light to those who need it the most...
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The Barrier of the Mask

May 2, 2020

Jérôme Blanchette, born with a deep deafness, had started to visit long-term care facilities before the pandemic.
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Guillaume Vermette: Trader of Smiles

May 2, 2020

Humanitarian clown Guillaume Vermette has made the choice to continue to be involved in putting smiles back on people.
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Artists in Service of Confined Residents

May 19, 2020

The duo ‘Les Deux Autres’ [...] joined the Caravane Philanthrope whose objective is to add colour to the lives of those confined by the pandemic.
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Ti-Cass: the Clown with the Heart of a Child

May 20, 2020

Obeying all health precautions, Ti-Cass continues to go out and spread happiness!
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The Smiling Acrobats

June 11, 2020

...a collective of artists meandering from residence to residence in Quebec, bringing a little well-being to seniors.
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Shows
and Speakers

Our shows are completely free if you are booking for a long-term care center, a retirement home or a non-profit organization…and our artists are still paid. This is a great way to have it both ways; to spread joy and support artists at the same time.

 

We are slowly beginning to provide speakers at conferences and smaller events again, as much as health measures permit. Help us finance our humanitarian projects by inviting our artists to share their stories. They’re sometimes funny, other times overwhelming, but always deeply human. It’s also a marvelous way to help people become more aware of different realities while encouraging them toward community engagement.

Show

Quarantine Circus

Since the beginning of this pandemic, solitude and emotional distress have been prominent. Our artists have been travelling the province fighting isolation and spreading smiles. Their circus feats and sweet melodies have been appreciated through balconies and windows - a show distanced enough to respect current guidelines, but intimate enough to reach the hearts of our spectators.

Read more
Speaker

15 Years a Humanitarian

with Guillaume Vermette

After about 15 years of humanitarian work travelling to 40 countries, Guillaume has a lot to say! He has met with so many fantastic people and been confronted with countless challenging realities. In this presentation, he will share his stories in his own very dynamic and authentic style. It’s sometimes funny, other times overwhelming, but always deeply human.

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Speaker

How Do You Keep Smiling?

with Guillaume Vermette

Guillaume presents himself as one of the happiest people he’s met in his life - but this hasn’t always been the case. For a long time, he was living with deep sadness. In this presentation, he highlights the many hurdles he had to overcome to fully answer his calling. The conference begins with his childhood and teen years, when school was his biggest challenge.

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Speaker

the Circonference

with Yan Imbault

Through the anecdotes of an eccentric traveler, Yan Imbault sheds light on the new challenges that our youth will have to face. He helps us in understanding the stakes, and in finding solutions in our daily life and identifying our allies.

Read more
Speaker

Play is Essential

with John Shibley

Play is a crucial element of human life. In this presentation, John explores how we currently value play and all of its benefits. Spoiler: it’s not enough! We are challenged to re-frame how we perceive play and encouraged to let it into our daily life.

Read more

Invite us to your place to inspire and spread smiles!

Book now

Quarantine Circus

Since the beginning of this pandemic, solitude and emotional distress have been prominent. Our artists have been traveling the province fighting isolation and spreading smiles. Their circus feats and sweet melodies have been appreciated through balconies and windows – a show distanced enough to respect current guidelines, but intimate enough to reach the hearts of our spectators.

 

This service is offered free of charge to hospice residences, retirement homes and community-based organizations. Don’t worry, our artists are compensated thanks to generous donations. This has been, and continues to be, a great way to spread happiness and support culture simultaneously in these difficult times.

For more details, contact us by email : fun@caravanephilanthrope.com

Trapeze and violin shows:

Circus shows :

Musical performances (Les Deux Autres) :

Musical performances :

 

with Guillaume Vermette

15 Years a Humanitarian

 

*subtitled Conference*

 

After about 15 years of humanitarian work visiting 40 countries, Guillaume has a lot to say! He has met with an incredible number of fantastic people and has been confronted with countless challenging realities. In this presentation he will share stories in his own dynamic and authentic style. Sometimes it’s funny and other times overwhelming, but always remains deeply human.

He will take the time to present some of the social injustices and situations currently taking place on our planet. More than anything though, his goal is that you are encouraged to be kind in your daily life, so that you are inspired to have a positive effect on the world around you, simply for the sake of happiness.

This presentation has been delivered hundreds of times in about ten countries.

 

“Students and teachers alike are still feeling warm inside by attending this touching, sincere, laughter-filled conference. We lived a magical moment!”

– Marlène Dubois, Les Seigneuries Secondary School

 

“He was so inspiring, I will never forget him. He’s so passionate about giving joy to everyone around him, but especially to those who really need it; refugees, orphans, sick children, etc. We need more people like you, Guillaume, your presentation gave me confidence and I’m now more motivated than ever to reach my dream. Thank you so much!”

– Camille, 4th grade

 

This presentation is only offered in French for now.

 

   

with Guillaume Vermette

How Do You Keep Smiling?

 

*subtitled Presentation*

 

Guillaume presents himself as one of the happiest people he’s met in his life – but this hasn’t always been the case. For a long time, he was living with deep sadness. In this presentation he highlights the many hurdles he had to overcome to fully answer his calling. The presentation begins with his childhood and teen years, when school was his biggest challenge. He recalls his problems with mental health and bullying and explains how he overcame them.

For 20 years, almost everyone tried to discourage him from becoming a humanitarian clown; teachers, friends, family, etc. Despite it all, he kept moving forward, hanging on to his dream. After endless trials and errors, he was finally able to build the career and the life he wanted. Defeat is a part of success. Perseverance is a group endeavor. Knowing our limits and asking for help is the key to victory and happiness.

 

This presentation is only offered in French for now.

 

with Yan Imbault

the Circonference

* subtitled “Presentation” *

 

Through the anecdotes of an eccentric traveler, Yan Imbault sheds light on the new challenges that our youth will have to face. He helps us in understanding the stakes, and in finding solutions in our daily life and identifying our allies. Yan Imbault is a social clown and a circus artist who sparks humour within each one of us, showing the importance of self-reflection. He also shows us the importance of taking a stand and of active engagement. While it’s adapted to all circumstances, this presentation transforms the mundane into the extraordinarily zany and offers an opportunity for circus and humour to be tools of social awakening.

 

This presentation is only offered in French for now.

 

with John Shibley

Play is Essential

John is a multi-disciplinary artist who comes from the mysterious lands of Ottawa. It was here where, at the age of 3, he practiced making the faces in the mirror that ended up making him the clown he is today. When he was 12 he achieved a prestigious blue belt in Karate, and when he was 14 he won best dressed in his Elementary School. Very noble achievements indeed. John now loves music, magic, and the science behind what makes us into the most beautiful and creative humans we can be.

 

This presentation is a deep dive into the wonderful benefits of play and a gentle encouragement to embrace our more playful side. It is a mix of compelling anecdotes from John’s work and concrete peer-reviewed analysis. We will look at both short- and long-term effects of unstructured play in children. With this presentation, John hopes to convince us to be more playful in our daily lives. By doing so, we give license to those around us to also be more playful – a healthy addition to any workplace or lifestyle. As play is a crucial building block to healthy development, it’s imperative that we allow each other to be more playful. And while play is having fun for the sake of itself, it has the wonderful benefit of helping us stay fit both mentally and physically.

 

This presentation is only offered in English for now.

 

 

 

Our Mission

Our mission:

To contribute to the well-being of marginalized populations and strengthen solidarity between communities, through humanitarian and social artistic practices.

Our values:

Right to Dignity – Right to Childhood – Cooperation – Creativity – Inclusiveness

Our goals:

  • Democratize the practices of the humanitarian clown, the therapeutic clown and the social circus.
  • Strengthen the social fabric and solidarity within the community.
  • Break through isolation and combat emotional distress.
  • Offer inclusive and fun spaces.

Allergic to competition, we encourage collaboration with other organizations and initiatives. We are convinced that this is the best way to ensure that our projects bring about real and lasting changes over time.

By taking a partnered approach with other initiatives already mobilized for the cause, and which have developed expertise complementary to ours, we avoid diluting forces and thus maximize resources (financial, human, etc.). We actively work to ensure that our projects have a long-term impact and are continued by people from the communities we work with.

Our Values

Right to Dignity • Cooperation • Engagement • Creativity • Right to Childhood • 
Right to Dignity • Cooperation • Engagement • Creativity • Right to Childhood • 

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Contact

You can also reach us at 514 651-0101