Elder Vern Harper

...We have great news!!!...The  Elder Vern Benefit on March 19, 2008 at the Workman Theatre is sold out, but you can still help!  For Information on how to donate, please click on the Ticket page.....
Elder Vern Harper
The Benefit
Jerry Brodey




©Matthew Wiley
used with permission


‘Cree Elder, Healer, Educator, Statesmen, Decorated Korean War Veteran’


Elder Vern (Asin – his Cree name means Stone) Harper is a spiritual elder and medicine man residing in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. As such, he has been called the “Urban Elder”.   He is fifth generation grandson of Mistawasis, "Big Child" - a hereditary chief - and the sixth generation grandson of Big Bear, who fought the last battle between the Cree and the Canadian government in 1885. He is going through the process with the Cree Nation to be re-instated as hereditary chief.

 As a decorated Korean War Veteran, Elder Vern served as a combat paratrooper and military policeman in the 82nd airborne division. Citations included the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, and Silver Cross.

 An extremely gifted, wise and humble holy man, Elder Vern is also recognized as respected Heoke (sacred clown and medicine which is often given in reverse), considered by native tribes as a rare and challenging gift.  He is a Sundancer and a gifted Story Teller. 

 Having dedicated his life to serving “community” and in particular to protection of children and native heritage, Elder Vern (Asin) has founded various projects and organizations i.e. Wakinyan Awasis: Thunderbird Place for Honouring the Spirit of the Child and  co-founded the Wandering Spirit Survival School, now known as First Nations School.  Elder Vern (Asin) has worked since 2002 as the Spiritual Elder for the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), counseling numerous individuals with addictions and leading ceremonies and sharing his deep wisdom with humbleness and honor.  From the 1970’s to 2002 he worked in a variety of roles including Spiritual Elder for Corrections Canada and Court Worker positions for native centres.  Throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s he was an amateur and professional boxer and in his early adulthood he was a traditional fur trapper and a smoke jumper (fire fighter).

 Elder Vern has served on numerous Aboriginal and Non Aboriginal Boards including the Native Canadian Centre. He has participated in the founding of many native organizations including Anishnawbe Health and Council Fire.

 Over many years Elder Vern has offered numerous invitations to lead blessings and ceremonies, typically pipe and/or sweat ceremonies. He has accepted numerous invitations to offer blessings and lectures at universities in Canada and the United States. He has written publications and participated in documentaries. Awards include: Korean War citations (Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Silver Cross, Urban Leadership Award (Canadian Urban Institute), Aboriginal Affairs Award of the 2007 Access Equity & Human Rights Awards City of Toronto, and Courage to Come Back Award (CAMH).







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This site was last updated 03/07/08