National Geographic’s “The Story of God with Morgan Freeman”

Wayna-Boozhoo! Boozhoo! Ahneen! Wachay,

I want to say Kiizhay-Meegwetch (Kindest Thank You) to the Mississauga’s of Scugog Island First Nation without the community effort, dedication to the culture and their strong sincere spirits this part of the journey would not have been possible in any way. I am so grateful and I send many blessings to their children, families and community.

I had the privilege, honour and opportunity to travel to Pasadena California for the Television Critics Association 2019 Winter Press Tour for National Geographic’s “Story of God,” as a panelist. The trip and experience was surreal and I am still pinching myself because it felt like a dream.

I want to say Gitchi-Meegwetch (Greatest Thank You) to Morgan Freeman, National Geographic and Revelations Entertainment for creating space for the Indigenous narrative and voice.  Vision Quests, fasting and spending time with our First Family – Creation is an Indigenous Way of Knowing that we as Anishinaabe and many other Indigenous Nations develop and maintain relationships with Creation, the spirit world and the universe.

This has been a life changing experience.

My interview is airing on March 19th (USA) and March 25th (Canada), 2019 on the National Geographic channel Season Three, Episode Three. Hope you enjoy the episode.


TCA Winter 2019 – Morgan Freeman, Nelufar Hedayat – Pasadena, California

“Eddy’s life was completely changed by a vision of the divine. In his case it was the Great Spirit a manifestation of his peoples’ connection to the land…Eddy became a guide for the First Nations People spreading the transformative power of the Vision Quest.”

Morgan Freeman – National Geographic’s “The Story of God”



Mississauga’s of Scugog Island First Nation – Film shoot

“What happens when someone sees or feels what they believe is the presence of God? The simple answer is perspective. It’s a moment of understanding. It shows a way forward. Visions happen in the mind of one person. But when someone like Saint Bernadette, Charles Mulli, or Eddy Robinson have the courage to share their vision, it can alter the course of many lives, even change the world.”

Morgan Freeman – National Geographic’s “The Story of God”



Important Children’s Book

“I was so honoured to be part of sharing Spirit Bear’s tremendous story and the protection of First Nations Children.”


Spirit Bear December 6th 2017 @SpiritBear

Spirit Bear and Children Make History

Spirit Bear is BEARY excited to announce the release of his first children’s book! After months of hard work and a little help from his friends Cindy Blackstock, Eddy Robinson, and Amanda Strong, Spirit Bear’s book about is now available for a cost of $15 + shipping.

When Spirit Bear’s mom tells him about an important human rights case happening in Ottawa, Ontario, he makes the LONG trip (by train, his favourite way to travel) to go and watch, and to stand up for First Nations kids.

And he isn’t the only one! Lots of children come too—to listen, and to show they care. Spirit Bear knows that children can change the world because he’s there to see it happen.

This is the story of how kids—kids just like you—made a difference…with a bit of help from some bears and other animals along the way!

With special thanks to Unifor ( for their generous support of this project.



Tedx Talk

DADEE68VoAAD8c1.jpgLINK: St. Mary’s Tedx Talk


I want to first begin by saying it was truly an honour to be invited to speak at the St. Mary’s Tedx Talk on May 17th, 2017

by Mr. Craig Zimmer. I have learned so much through this process and I am very grateful for the opportunity to share my story.

I also want to say Chimeegwetch and send my sincerest heartfelt thanks to Bob Joseph, Mark Bowden, Wab, Kinew, Thomas King for generously giving me their time and mentorship. I know in my heart I will continue to grow as I reflect on the wisdom from these amazing people I have had the opportunity to cross paths with.

The Anishinaabe Ways of Knowing, Traditional Teachers, Elders and ceremonies have also been extremely instrumental with my personal an spiritual growth. The teachings I have encountered on this journey have touched my heart and will continue to forever stoke the sacred fire within.

Kiizhay Meegwetch,





Cities are Indigenous Land Too – Vice

LINK: Cities are Indigenous Land, Too – Vice

Eddy Robinson – March 20th, 2017



Teaching Rock wrap of shoot


On answering the question “Where are you from?” as an Anishnaabe born in Toronto.

“Where are you from?” It’s a question a lot of us have encountered from time to time over a noisy coffee, awkward lunch, in the workplace, or my favourite place: cultural awareness workshops. I have faced the interrogation and negotiating of my identity from Indigenous and non-Indigenous folks, as I am sure many people have.

What reserve are you from? What’s your tribe? How come you don’t live on the reserve? Wow, you don’t look Native. Ah, you’re a city Indian!

As an Indigenous speaker and educator I have travelled throughout North America over the past 20 years, and I’ve heard this a lot. There seems to be an undertone that you’re not culturally qualified as an Indigenous person if you’re from the city. For some reason there’s this misconception that you are more culturally qualified if you’re from the reserve.

Honestly, I truly understand why people would feel that way. I mean, how would it sound if I said I am going to tell you a traditional Indigenous story about how bear met raccoon at Yonge and Dundas? Immediately the story sounds modern just based on the location. When I relocate the story of bear meeting raccoon on the shores of Old Women’s Bay (Lake Superior), for some reason it seems more Indigenous. The stories and teachings are from the land.


Graffiti of a Anishinaabe (Ojibway) Thunderbird from the Petroglyphs north of Peterborough by Paula “La Bomba” Gonzalez

I was born and raised in marginalized impoverished Toronto. As an Anishinaabe (Ojibway) boy growing up in the city during the 70s and 80s, I had no clue who the hell I was. All I knew was that I was an Indian. Since then, I have done a lot of Indigenous land-based learning and spent a lot of time attending Anishinaabe (Ojibway) ceremonies and cultural events in and out of the city. I’ve learned traditional Anishinaabe stories come from Creation. Even though there is a blanket of asphalt over the land, Indigenous stories were here way before Toronto was. So as an Indigenous person how can I connect with the spirit of the land in the big city, is that even possible?

I have been taught by traditional Anishinaabe elders that when we ask where you are from in the language you are essentially asking if you are related, if you are from the same territory, if you are safe to date. Sometimes that part doesn’t translate well. Another important part of the interaction that I have come to know as an Anishinaabe is the opportunity for a person to announce their name, cultural titles and/or role the occupy in their community. The gesture is specifically to inform Creation and the spirits who you are.

For the past several decades urban Indigenous identity has existed in cities like Toronto hidden within the constructs of urban planning tucked away in the nooks of concrete, damp basements, dark laneways, and poor neighbourhoods. There are Indigenous health organizations and student associations serving our specific needs. And urban Indigenous organizations like the Friendship Centre Movement have emerged out of cities and now can be found in over 119 locations across Canada.

I remember being seven years old walking up the steps of the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto (formerly known as The North American Indian Club) and looking up in the sky at this magical totem pole standing proudly in front of the building. Written on the walkway in brass just before the big wooden doors you’ll see the word AHNEEN, which means hello. Back then “The Centre” was the hub for us urban Indigenous folk and, to some degree, still is. It was a safe place, and it was awesome. If you wanted to you could visit with traditional elders and ask them anything about the culture. Walking up from the Spadina subway you could hear the sound of the drum emanating from the auditorium vibrating down the sidewalk.

The Canadian government and Indigenous organizations have very different lens and understanding when they refer to urban Indigenous populations. The government’s Urban Aboriginal Strategy defines “urban Indigenous” as First Nations, Metis, and Inuit residing in urban areas, but the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada website mostly refers to us as “off-reserve.” In 2011 the Government of Canada reported that the Aboriginal population reached over 1.4 million and 56 percent of that population lived in urban areas. There has been a seven percent increase on the Indigenous population moving to the urban areas from 1996 to 2011. Cities with the largest populations in 2011 were Winnipeg (78,420), Edmonton (61,765), and Toronto (36,995). The migration to the cities for a better life unfortunately has been met most times with poverty, loss of identity, placelessness, invisibility, discrimination, systemic racism, and homelessness.

Indigenous people moving and being pushed from their home territories into the cities has been a common narrative unknown to many Canadians. Canada has some secrets and hidden history they don’t want you to know. In 1857, during the gradual civilization act which was followed up by the Indian Act in 1876, everyone who was identified as being an Indian were put on the Indian registry confined to the reserves and given numbers. These assigned numbers are now reflected on the current Indian status card and the holders who still carry them around. Counting Indians is not new—there are even racist children’s songs written about it.


The author’s son walks at Crawford Lake Conservation Area

The author’s son walks at Crawford Lake Conservation Area. Photo via the author
Up until the 1940s, First Nations people needed an official Indian pass from the Indian agent to leave the reserve if they wanted to go into the city—otherwise they were incarcerated or transported directly back to the reserve. These Indian agents, usually white alpha males (just google images of these guys), served as judge and jury over the community entirely.

On the one hand you are an Indian seen in a patronizing way governed by oppressive policy needing permission for everything. On the other hand, you may have become an Indian enfranchised by racist policy to extinguish all of your treaty rights in various ways. If you went to university or volunteered for the military, you lost your identity. Either way, Indigenous people may feel this loss, overtly and subtly.

That loss and inequality continues today, as 50 percent of First Nations children currently live in poverty. First Nations adults are more likely to die from avoidable causes before 75, there are over 1,500 missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW), and now a national inquiry is underway to take testimony from the families of the MMIW this spring 2017. There are over 130 Indigenous communities on boil water advisories across Canada. Places like Kashechewan, where Indigenous people are frequently displaced and evacuated constantly to urban areas due to constant flooding and severely contaminated water, are left wondering if the living conditions will ever improve.

First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada has stated that there are more Indigenous children in care now then there has been at the height of residential schools. Truth and Reconciliation 94 calls to action is at the forefront for many Indigenous people, communities and organizations. The calls to action signify a process, a relationship of inequity, resistance, resilience, and resurgence of Indigenous people.

Growing up in Toronto I noticed settler communities establishing themselves in areas like Greektown, Little Italy, and Chinatown through businesses. I always thought: Where’s Native Town? Where are Indigenous people locating themselves in Toronto? Why are we disappearing from the consciousness of Torontonians and Canadians?

After working in the Toronto’s Indigenous community I found that the population was spread out all over the Greater Toronto Area mostly according to affordable housing clusters. We therefore never really establishing a significant presence in the city. Which brings forth the notion that a majority of the urban Indigenous population was and is living in poverty.
Think about Toronto and the Indigenous presence for a moment. Other than the Inukshuk on the Lakeshore, which is actually from the far north, there is practically no visual presence of the ancestors that once occupied the shores of Lake Ontario reflected within Toronto. This is how we end up in a negotiation about our lineage with coworkers. There is majority of Canada that still sees Indigenous people as an Indians—with or without their status cards—and assume that all Indians live on the reserve. But Indigenous people have become much more than the collective nouns and assumptions placed upon them.

So, with that in mind, I have to consciously think of the ancestors and create an Indigenous presence each day. When I leave my house in Mississauga I put sema (prayer tobacco) down outside on my freshly cut lawn or by the single sapling on my property. I smudge with sweetgrass in my vehicle before a speaking engagement in order to get in the zone. I teach my children traditional Anishinaabe songs in the basement of my house. I have DJ Shub, Tribe Called Red, and my favourite pow wow groups downloaded to the system of my minivan. Learning Anishinaabe words from Wab Kinew’s language app Neechee. I try to have a little embellishment to signify my Indigeneity; like my favourite T-shirt bringing about awareness for Truth and Reconciliation, a small square piece hide (moose hide campaign) safety pinned to my jacket for Indigenous women, oh, and I can’t forget my decorated rearview mirror.

No matter where I am in the world my clan, my spirit name, my spirit colours, my Anishinaabe identity are always with me. Traditionally the Anishinaabe give their children spirit names at birth. My traditional teachers taught me that you couldn’t get anymore traditional than having your mishomis (grandfather) and nokomis (grandmother) bestow a spirit name upon you.

Our traditional knowledge systems have been severely damaged by the oppressive methods carried out by the Canadian government through residential schools. Residential schools have directly impacted many generations of Indigenous people on and off reserve. People like myself and so many others have had to visit with elders to receive a spirit name at a local urban Indigenous organization. I received my spirit name at Anishnawbe Health Toronto near Sherbourne and Queen streets when I was 18 from a medicine man visiting from Red Lake Minnesota. As honoured as I was to receive my spirit name from him, I would have loved to receive my name from my mishomis.
We are in an amazing time of accessibility; as Indigenous people we can access our Indigenous ways of knowing through laptops, smartphones, and digital space. I have to be honest: Even though we can view almost anything online, there is nothing like being in person smelling the sweetgrass burning and hearing the comforting vibrations of the heartbeat drum and voice of an elder speaking in the language.

Indigenous people continue to be resilient and resistant to the attempted acts of genocide by the government of Canada. Indigenous ways of knowing are not primarily based on culture, it is so much more than a song and dance; it is a state of mind, a state of spirit. Indigenous people have the inherent right to connect with this land and access their ways of knowing no matter where they are. The spirit and voices of the ancestors, our grandfathers and grandmothers live within this earth, underneath these sidewalks and will continue to stoke the internal fires of resurgence.

The Toronto Buzz!

Toronto Life Magazine Logo.png

When I was 18, I went on a vision quest…

E.Robinson 1984 2.jpg

I was seven years old the first time I experienced First Nations culture. My family went to the Guelph penitentiary, where two of my relatives were in jail. That day, the prison was holding a gathering for Indigenous inmates. It was the first time I heard a drum circle, and the sound was deep and powerful. But when I started to dance, my cousins made fun of me. I went back to pretending I wasn’t interested.

I didn’t have a happy childhood. My Cree father, a residential-school survivor, and my Ojibwa-Anishinabe mother split when I was three and sent me to live with my grandparents. I slept on a cot in their living room, and my little brother’s crib was in the hallway. When I was 10, I moved back in with my mom in a subsidized housing complex at Pape and Danforth. We argued all the time. A few months later, I reconnected with my dad, who was living in Sault Ste. Marie. When I was 14, after a particularly nasty fight with my mom, I hopped on a Greyhound bus and went to stay with my dad and his girlfriend. That didn’t work out, so they put me up in a tiny one-bedroom apartment and bought me groceries once a week. Soon I was drinking and smoking weed. I was arrested several times—for stealing, for fighting, for selling drugs—and spent four months in juvie. Eventually, I was remanded back into my mother’s custody. I wasn’t thrilled about it, but I knew she’d let me do what I wanted.

When I moved back to Toronto at age 15, my grandparents insisted that I prepare for my confirmation at St. Ann’s Catholic Church near Gerrard and Broadview, where they were parishioners. The church has a Native People’s Parish, which combines Catholicism with elements of Indigenous spirituality. The church leaders incorporate sage-burning ceremonies into Mass, for instance, and translate hymns into Indigenous languages. As part of my confirmation, the priest insisted that I go on a vision quest—a ritual that lasts anywhere from 24 hours to a week. You’re left alone in the wilderness without food or supplies, and you pray to the Creator for guidance and wisdom.

On the night of my vision quest, I set up my tent at Dreamer’s Rock, a sacred place on Manitoulin Island. I was skeptical. 
I just thought I’d be abandoned outside, bored, hungry and alone. To my shock, I had a vision that night. It was an old man, standing beyond my tent. He looked like he was beckoning me. I didn’t recognize him, but I believe he was a manifestation of First Nations culture—my culture—which was waiting for me to embrace it.

Over the next few years, I dove into my Indigenous heritage. I read about Crazy Horse, Tecumseh and Sitting Bull. I joined a drum circle that met regularly at the Native Canadian Centre. I learned about oppression and how these rituals provided camaraderie and kinship.

By the time I was 18, I was entirely estranged from my family. 
I was living in a studio apartment at Broadview and Danforth, and working as a dishwasher at the Native Canadian Centre. 
I was poor, isolated and depressed. Around that time, I went on my second vision quest, this one in Red Lake, Minnesota. It was a powerful experience. I was left out in the bush alone, 10 miles away from the camp, for three days. I had no food or water. 
I just had to sit up in a tree on some scaffolding and pray. It wasn’t the fasting, bears or wolves I was afraid of; it was being alone with my demons that terrified me.
That first night, I yelled, I screamed, I cried and I sang. I prayed to the Creator and asked what my purpose was. I reflected on my mistakes and realized my childhood had wired me to believe that I was worthless, that I could never accomplish anything. Even though I was only there for three days, it felt like forever. The day after, I went to the sweat lodge. There was a conductor there to make sure I was safe, but, otherwise, it was just me and the fire. I stood in front of the flames and told the spirits my story. I prayed and I suffered. It was an intense, cathartic experience.

That vision quest saved my life. When 
I returned from it, I found a new sense of belonging in the Indigenous culture I had discovered. I became an active member of the community, serving as the vice-president of the National Aboriginal Youth Council until I was 25. I also started singing and performing at powwows and Native ceremonies in Ontario and 
across Canada. And I continued to do vision quests every 
spring and fall.

My life is richer than I ever imagined. Ten years ago, I met my wife, Erika. Today, we have three children: our son is five and our twins are one and a half. Last year, I was the head dancer at a powwow up in Sudbury, and the dance group and I officially invited my son to join us during the ceremonies. It’s one of the greatest joys of my life that my children will have unfettered access to something I spent years searching for.

Eddy Robinson is a musician, artist and educator.

Toronto Life Magazine – January 2017



2675266.jpgThis is my Toronto Podcast

Episode 12: TMT012 – Interview with Eddy Robinson, Indigenous Artist, Activist & Educator Part 2

If you listened to last week’s episode, you know that I had indigenous artist, activist, and educator, Eddy Robinson on the show. This is part 2 of that episode. Today, as a continuation of our discussion, Eddy and I are going to talk about leadership, some of Toronto’s odd choices for public indigenous statues, Truth and Reconciliation, and what the future holds for the exceptional work that he does. We’re also going to discuss his thoughts on multiculturalism and the impact it has on the indigenous community. If you are a music fan, I think you’re going to love this episode. Eddy deconstructs and demystifies indigenous music for me, and if you’ve always wondered what Pow Wow music is all about, today you’re going to find out.

Episode 11: TMT011 – Interview with Eddy Robinson, Indigenous Artist, Activist, & Educator Part 1

My guest today is indigenous artist, activist, and educator, Eddy Robinson. Eddy is an Anishinaabe/Muskegowuk Cree of the Missanabie Cree First Nation, raised in the city of Toronto. In our talk over the coming two episodes we’ll discuss what it was like growing up indigenous in Toronto (or Canada), what challenges he faced, and whether those challenges are common for others. We’ll also talk about indigenous music, multiculturalism, current issues like Truth and Reconciliation, and his career as as an “artist, activist & educator” as well as his company, Morningstar River.



Teaching at Wilfrid Laurier University


This September 2016 I was given the amazing opportunity to teach two sessions of EU493: First Nations, Métis, Inuit Issues in Education. The first for the faculty of education at WLU and the first time for me teaching within an academy.

Course Overview:

 This course is designed to help Teacher Education Candidates learn the ongoing impact     of colonization in the areas of educational policies, funding and societal concerns. Teacher Education candidates will engage in a dialogue on what it means to walk together in one land with responsibility, reciprocity, relevance, and respect (The 4R’s Verna Kirkness) Specific topics to be addressed within this course include topics related to sovereignty, identity, land treaty, language, environment, sustainability, decolonizing education as well as historical and current concerns impacting First Nations, Métis, Inuit vitality on the sociocultural, socio-economic and political Canadian landscape.

This experience has definitely been a tremendous learning for me and I have gained an exponential amount of hands on life experience as a teacher during this process. Each time I walk into the classroom at WLU I approach the teacher candidates as if I am transferring a direct message to each individual student within their respective classrooms. I think about what would I want students to learn about Indigenous people today? How can building capacity and creating change within the Canadian consciousness further support Indigenous children in the classroom? I also think about Chief Dan George’s address to Empire stadium for Canada’s 100th birthday.



On Canada’s 100th birthday, Chief Dan George silenced a crowd of 32,000 with his ‘Lament for Confederation’ at Empire Stadium.

“How long have I known you, Oh Canada? A hundred years? Yes, a hundred years. And many, many seelanum more. And today, when you celebrate your hundred years, Oh Canada, I am sad for all the Indian people throughout the land.

For I have known you when your forests were mine; when they gave me my meat and my clothing. I have known you in your streams and rivers where your fish flashed and danced in the sun, where the waters said ‘come, come and eat of my abundance.’ I have known you in the freedom of the winds. And my spirit, like the winds, once roamed your good lands.

But in the long hundred years since the white man came, I have seen my freedom disappear like the salmon going mysteriously out to sea. The white man’s strange customs, which I could not understand, pressed down upon me until I could no longer breathe.

When I fought to protect my land and my home, I was called a savage. When I neither understood nor welcomed his way of life, I was called lazy. When I tried to rule my people, I was stripped of my authority.

My nation was ignored in your history textbooks – they were little more important in the history of Canada than the buffalo that ranged the plains. I was ridiculed in your plays and motion pictures, and when I drank your fire-water, I got drunk – very, very drunk. And I forgot.

Oh Canada, how can I celebrate with you this Centenary, this hundred years? Shall I thank you for the reserves that are left to me of my beautiful forests? For the canned fish of my rivers? For the loss of my pride and authority, even among my own people? For the lack of my will to fight back? No! I must forget what’s past and gone.

Oh God in heaven! Give me back the courage of the olden chiefs. Let me wrestle with my surroundings. Let me again, as in the days of old, dominate my environment. Let me humbly accept this new culture and through it rise up and go on.

Oh God! Like the thunderbird of old I shall rise again out of the sea; I shall grab the instruments of the white man’s success-his education, his skills- and with these new tools I shall build my race into the proudest segment of your society.

Before I follow the great chiefs who have gone before us, Oh Canada, I shall see these things come to pass. I shall see our young braves and our chiefs sitting in the houses of law and government, ruling and being ruled by the knowledge and freedoms of our great land.

So shall we shatter the barriers of our isolation. So shall the next hundred years be the greatest in the proud history of our tribes and nations.”

Chief Dan George – July 1st, 1967


I am definitely looking forward to this upcoming five week session October 24th, 2016. Also Canada’s 150th birthday is coming up and I am wondering who from the Indigenous Nations across Canada will they invite to speak. Will each of these leaders speak to Truth and Reconciliation, Residential School Survivors, boil water advisories, First Nations child poverty statistics (purposely omitted by the government), Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women?

Will the designated speakers share Canada’s true Indigenous narrative and acknowledge what has happened here on this soil honestly?  Will they speak to the nations upon nations needing to heal from the oppression suffered here at the hands of the Canadian government?

This opportunity will be an international platform to bring forth the truth just as Chief Dan George did in 1967.




Collaboration with DJ SHUB

VICE Episode

DJ SHUB’s Blog – Download the song “Old School is for Lovers” from DJ-Shub’s website.


I sampled “Waabananang Ziibi” by Morningstar River for this new track. Lead singer Eddy Robinson explained that it’s a straight song, which means that it has no words. He also noted that it’s a round dance song, which is commonly used for social gatherings where everyone joins hands and dances together in a large circle with a side-shuffle step to the left, in time with the pattern of the drumbeat, to emphasize the equality of everyone in attendance. Further to this, Eddy added the following.

I went to a ceremony for Anishinaabe and seen the way they used round dance styled songs in the Ojibway round house ceremony and big drum societies.

The Cree styled round dance which is a type of ceremony and social believed to honor the ancestors. They play the hand drum with a scratch beat to call the spirits in; they also believe they’re calling their relatives (northern lights). This style is now popular with Indigenous people and pow wow people everywhere.

Oklahoma folks use the round dance style in a contemporary sense and turned them into social songs. Kind of like country songs or the blues. Singing about losing their wives trying to swoon them back or catch the eye of a new one. Hence the term snagging songs.

-Eddy Robinson