The Benefit

...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



What is the Benefit all about?

A small group of concerned individuals, who are part of a community called Daré, are seeking support within the larger community for Elder Vern Harper. Our mandate to seek funds for Elder Vern at this time is two fold. In addition to the powerful impact his work has in native and non-native communities, Elder Vern's forced work leave due to a series of surgeries as well as the sudden loss of his son has resulted in serious loss of income. 

Our decision to raise awareness about Elder Vern's work through presenting a benefit premiere performance of Jerry Brodey's one-man play, Solo: A Boy's Journey is informed by the diverse yet common themes and creative aspects that appear in their community work. Their individual commitments to nurture and help guide the rites of passage processes of others extend beyond age, race, and gender. 

The work of Elder Vern and the Daré intersect at the level of Council. Daré (pronounced dar-ray), meaning a sacred gathering for healing purposes is rooted in the African Shona tradition of Council.  Elder Vern's work flows from council-like processes native to the North American aboriginal Cree Nation.

At the initial 2006 meeting between Elder Vern and the Shona healer Mandaza Kandemwa, we were inspired by their instantaneous bonding as brothers.  The bonding effects of these men's approaches to council and spirituality widened our understanding of the council process as both an ancient yet new universal language with immense potential to contribute to global peace; peacemaking that we believe necessary to healing the innumerable wounds that divide the globe.  Given the planet's current at-risk state, we consider our support of Elder Vern’s work and ability to pass on his council traditions a privilege as well as a duty. We hope you can join us in supporting Elder Vern by coming to and/or supporting the benefit on March 19th, 2008.

Following the play, Toronto Playback Theatre will offer a special performance for you, the audience, to share your experience of seeing Solo: A Boy's Journey.  Toronto Playback Theatre is dedicated to creating a space for your own stories to be heard and enacted by a professional troupe of improvisational performers. Share your story, or just sit back, listen and watch.

Toronto Playback Theatre is dedicated to listening to people's stories and transforming them spontaneously into theatre. Our mission is to provide organizations with dramatic, audience-interactive performances and programs that build trust, deepen dialogue and generate opportunities for personal and professional development. Playback Theatre aims to create a ritual space where every voice and any story - however ordinary, extraordinary, hidden or difficult - might be heard and told. The Toronto Playback Theatre is committed to a theatre that values community, service, and the possibility of personal and social transformation.


Download the poster here



Click here for information on when, where, and how to purchase tickets or click on the Ticket link on the left of this page.



The Art Auction

Artist Brian Marion & Philip Cote

Brian Marion

"As an artist he has learned to apply colour to forms that were derived, in part, from ancient pictographs still found in the central region of Canada. While he developed his artistic talents, he was taught to use the meanings of the legends as a basis for composition in his painting. He has acquired the knowledge from the visions of our people and has come to understand our close ties with nature. He is able to get inspiration from his native spirituality and with the blessing of the Creator, add his own emotional and intuitive interpretations to produce beautiful art."

In 1994 Brian was chosen to represent Canada at the 50th Anniversary D-Day Celebrations in Normandy, France.

  Brian has graciously donated this beautiful painting for our art auction.
Please visit his site or click on the painting to get there.



Philip Cote – b. Parry Sound

First Nations Affiliation: Shawnee, Lakota, Potawatomi and Algonquin

A graduate of The Ontario College of Art and Design and a co-ordinator of the Tecumseh Arts Festival for four years since June 2001. Cote has been at the forefront of a group of artists who are exploring new ways to imbue sculpture with traditional spiritual perspectives. His work is available at a number of galleries across Canada and the United States, and he spends much of his time teaching soapstone carving to Native youth. In 1994 he was in a two person exhibition with Norval Morriseau at the Maslek Gallery in Sante Fe, New Mexico. In 1999, he was guest soapstone carving instructor at OCAD. In August 2000, he conducted a similar course with First Nation’s teachers at Queen's University. Recently, he received numerous Ontario Arts Council Aboriginal Artists In Education grants to oversee two week intensive workshops in the fundamentals of soapstone carving with Native high school students in Thunder Bay, Ridgetown, Wallaceburg and also in the remote northern Ontario communities of Lac La Croix and Bearskin Lake. In 2004 he was artist in residence at the McMichael Art Galley as part of the Planet Indigenous festival and in 2005 Cote created a large scale mural Niinwin Dabaadjmowin – We Are Talking a 20-panel 80-foot mural depicts the rich history of the Anishnaabe people with the First Nations street level youth. He is a founding member of the Tecumseh Collective and project manager of the Tecumseh Arts Festival from 2001 to present.  Cote’s great- grandfather is the great-grandson of Tecumseh, and Philip is engaged in exploring the importance of the Shawnee leaders’ life and spirit. 

As one of the founding member of the Tecumseh Collective he has presented six successful festivals celebrating the life of the great Shawnee leader Tecumseh. In 2001, as lead artist over 8 months he created a 1000 square foot mural Kiiwin Dabaadjmowin, Our Stories for the Mississaugas of New Credit. Also in 2005, under his direction, an 80 ft mural Niiwin Dabaadjmowin, We Are Talking which depicts the creation story of the Anishnaabe was created and is currently on tour throughout Ontario.  Through his artwork and teaching, Philip conveys his hopes to inspire and be a role model for a new generation.



Creation of the universe and the planets and the solar system

Lowering of First man to the earth and his travels naming of all things

First man and First woman and their union which created the four sons

And the four sons travelled to the four directions of the earth and became the four races of man.

The earth is populated, life is flourishing and the Great Bear is leading the way for the people

The next section is the seven fires come to the people and reveal future events

Depicts the journey the people will take on the Great Migration and the seven sacred signs that will be revealed as stopping places

The people will be given a choice of two roads, the light or dark road and if the right road is chosen the Golden Age will begin

The predicted arrival of the light skin race and the changes to come

The last panel depicts a boy who will be born and who will also have a dream about the location of the sacred scrolls and the return of the ancient teachings and wisdom of our ancestors

Please visit Philip's site






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This site was last updated 03/07/08