Teaching at Wilfrid Laurier University

Boozhoo,

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.

 

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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.

 

 

 

My First National Speakers Bureau Talk

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Memorial University, St. Johns Newfoundland

#Boozhoo,

Sorry It’s been awhile since I posted a blog submission. My family has had my undivided attention for this past few weeks.

I just wanted to talk about my experience out in St. John’s. From boarding the flight up until my return it has been one of the best trips to date. I was treated with the utmost respect and generosity by Brittany Lennox Memorial University and the hospitality of the local Native Friendship Centre was very warm and heartfelt. It is definitely a place I want to visit again.

I presented to Memorial University and the talk was approximately two and half hours. The conversations I had before and after the presentations were very inspiring and taught me a lot during my visit. Out of respect and privacy for the people I connected with I will keep those private but it was everything from creating social change, building   capacity. privilege, oppression to the spirits around Signal Hill.

It is moments like the ones I had in St. Johns that reassure my internal questions of whether or not I am on the right path.

Respectfully,

Eddy Robinson M.Ed

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Eastern Owl Drum Group

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Cape Spear – The most eastern part of North America

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“Eddy Robinson was a massive hit at Memorial University, and also within the City of St. John’s. He graciously agreed to visit the local Native Friendship centre, where folks in the community were given the opportunity to meet and engage with him. Eddy is a wonderful speaker, and creates an environment where his audience feels comfortable and captivated. Eddy was energetic and passionate about his indigenous heritage – and the entire audience left feeling more aware of the histories of aboriginal people within a Canadian context”.
– Brittany Lennox, Executive Director of Student Life – Memorial University of Newfoundland Students’ Union

Urban Indigenous Ways of Knowing – Urban Indigenous Flaneur 2015

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#Boozhoo,

This past winter I completed my graduate diploma in Urban Environments with Dr. Joy Mannette at York University. Such an amazing course; I would highly recommend it! One of the assignments was for each of us students to take a stroll through Toronto based on the concept of being a “Flaneur.” Flaneur’s came out of 19th century France which were usually individuals of affluence who people watched. When I took MY STROLL through Toronto I wrote this piece “Indigenous flaneur.” Hope you enjoy.

Urban Indigenous Flaneur – February 2015

By Eddy Robinson

Boozhoo

Who am I and where am I from?

Am I from this land like the echoes of my ancestors and the weeping of my Grandmother’s?

If we belong to the land where is my home?

Is it within the constructs of prescriptive technology, mainstream ontology strategic urban planning with intention of further vanishing, who I am.

Indigenous Diaspora dispersed from the directions; Am I from waabanung (east), zhaawanung (south), ningaabayanung (west), kewadinanung (north) or Ishkonighan (Reserve translated means leftovers)?

Why are we further removed from the visual presence of this metropolis? Absent of the Indigenous spirit is the plot of this?

How should I locate myself for your benefit and privilege? Why don’t you believe I am Anishinaabe (Ojibway)? Why is it important for you to call me Indian, Aboriginal, Native Canadian?

Why is my skin not the right color for you? Is it because all the social work books you’ve read say I’m other-ed to you?

How Indian should I look? Do I need to be wearing an Eagle feather headdress adorned ermine skins, beadwork and Ojibway-ness?

Does my face need to be painted to appease your romantic novels, oppression has been a lifetime acquainted for me to grovel.

My Anishinaabe methodologies and Urban Indigenous ways of knowing led me to this epistemology, the Sweetgrass path no matter what my spirit was sowing.

Surrounded by housing, food banks and marginalization hidden policies further removing my identity was not a civilization.

So here I am gathering wisdom, seated humbly by Creations gifts of pure vision.

As I sit here on Mother Earth overwhelmed with introspection, the pedagogy of our people becomes clearly obvious to the next path and direction.

This vision questing has not only been a method for cleansing cognitive confusions but has been a way of knowing for gathering information from Creation in seclusion.

No matter what our geographical locations, generations upon generations have been connected to Creation.

Indigenous ways of knowing will continue bestowing

Meegwetch (Thank you)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIEBL6bAqek

 

Fasting and Vision Questing are “Indigenous Ways of Knowing” for Gathering Research

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Fasting and Vision Quests are Indigenous methodologies and ways of knowing that have been used for hundreds if not thousands of years for gathering research, qualitative and quantitative data.

Fasting for the Anishinaabe has been and continues to be a good thing in so many ways. On a fast when you are alone sitting out there on the land in a state of introspection you are developing a relationship between you and our very first family, original family – Creation.

People around the world conduct forms of fasting and each individual ceremony differs from culture to culture. The intention, values and virtues of fasting ceremonies are the connecting commonalities globally; introspection, giving thanks, humility, respect and personal sacrifice.

After you have been on a fast there is a feeling of spiritually replenishment, rejuvenation and resurgence. In my own personal experience of fasting over the past 25 years I have learned a lot about myself.

Once you have decided you are going to fast you have to find a good fasting camp lead by a spiritual person and or traditional teacher you are comfortable with. So that’s means getting to know them and spending some time with the person who is leading the ceremony. As Anishinaabe you will need a few things before you fast. An Anishinaabe Noozwin (spirit name), know your Dodem (clan – Crane, Loon, Bear, Marten, Fish) and spirit colours (guardians/protectors) for your cloth offerings.

Once you arrive to the fasting camp most times you will go through a sweat lodge to determine how many days you will go out on the land for. The spirits will tell the fasting camp leader during the sweat how many days each person will receive; It can be from one to four days without food or water. During the fast food or water cannot pass your lips. You will usually sit inside a cedar circle which protects you and when you are there it is understood by creation (animals, spirits etc…) your intention. When your fast is complete you arrive back at camp to endure another sweat followed by a give-away and feast. The experience is between you and creation and will be for your lifetime.

Elders tell us that the messages, guidance, information, teachings, dreams and visitors we receive during our fast will inform us on our path in life. This is an Indigenous methodology for gathering research and data. Our first family, original family is gifting us information and data to live a good life – Mino Bidmaadziwin just by simply offering the spirits Sema (tobacco) and spending time with them in prayer on the land.

I am just touching the surface of this Indigenous methodology and hope to continue the conversation.

Chimeegwetch!

Respectfully,

Eddy Robinson M.Ed

Political Correctness or Access Points…

#Boozhoo,

I just returned from a Gathering for Aboriginal youth up at the Bark Lake Leadership Camp. It was great connecting with our future leaders and so amazing to see their passion for the culture.

In this post I wanted to draw some attention to the conversation of political correctness. After doing hundreds of workshops and transcribing way too many evaluations I found that most people found the personal narrative, history from an Indigenous lens and confusion about what term to use for Indigenous people common themes.

In the past when covering terminology and or terms of reference I have found and seen a lot of confusing faces. I have always said the most politically correct way to refer to our nations and or people is in their respective languages.

I am truly “Anishinaabe” which is Ojibway and part of the Algonquin/Algonkian group according to a lot of textbooks. Growing up in Toronto I remember being asked in grade school what I was and back then I responded with, “Indian.” The terms as we know has changed over the years from Indian to First Peoples, Native Canadian, First Nations to Aboriginal and lately within our Ontario Local District School Boards our children are now being referred to as an acronym, “FNMI.”

Canada currently recognizes three distinct groups Aboriginal, First Nations, Métis and Inuit. In the first few pages of Thomas King’s The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America, he mentions that Indigenous people have never been a collective such as the word Aboriginal that for some reason collectively unites us as Indigenous people under one noun.

I as an Anishinaabe person understand that we are very diverse and distinct Nations of people who deserve acknowledgement and respect for our own cultures. Most Indigenous nations across Turtle Island (North America) understand this very specific notion but as we know there is this polarizing need for non-Indigenous people to locate us to one noun for the convenience of the conversation. We have to take a cue from places like New Zealand where the general public learns and understands the Indigenous language throughout the national curricula. In New Zealand Indigenous students have access to learn their own language within the education system. We are generations behind this thinking in Canada even though there has been tremendous dedication and work done thus far. As the saying goes we still have a long way to go.

That being said I consider words like Aboriginal, First Nations access points to the conversation of who we are essentially mainly because those are the most commonly known words amongst Canadian Citizens. A lot of people are drawn to First Nations being the politically correct term but when you are referring to someone who is Métis, Inuit and or non-status they do not identify with the collective noun of First Nations.

This topic is definitely something I cannot possibly cover in one blog submission due to its very complex layers and history that is attached to each term and or collective noun. It is something for your to think over and maybe engage in your own research. My suggestions are to understand the landscape meaning knowing what specific nations territory you are in; for instance I live in Mississauga, Ontario so therefore I am in the territory of the Mississauga’s of the Credit or now more commonly known as the Mississauga’s of the New Credit. The Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs, Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Canada has webpages dedicated to terms of reference and or terminology. Happy searching!

Respectfully,

Eddy Robinson M.Ed

Indigenous Lens

When it comes to Indigenous people in North America there are a lot of stereotypes and misconceptions swimming around in the preconceived notions of people not fully understanding the Indigenous perspective and lived experience. I want to ask you to remove your current lens if you are unaware and for the duration of this blog put on these cool Anishinaabe lenses.

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I will try my best to educate and inform throughout this Blog. Chimeegwetch I hope you enjoy.

Respectfully,

Eddy Robinson M.Ed

How should we begin?

photo(30) This is technically my first blog submission and I will get better as time goes on so bare with me. First of all chimeegwetch (big-thank you) for visiting my blog, it’s very much appreciated.

Ah Boozhoo!

Boozhoo is a greeting in Anishinaabemowin (the Ojibway language). It is a shorter form of Waynaboozhoo; Waynaboozhoo is a spiritual being that is very commonly referred to in ceremonies, creation stories and prayers. What I have learned is that this greeting is a verbal contract that you will respect and learn from each-other in a good way.

Well in my experience of attending several ceremonies over the past 25 years most times people begin with introductions. Over the course of my Masters in Education I had the opportunity to read some of Brent Debassige’s work. He wrote “Elder’s have always stated the importance of locating ourselves.” Please keep in mind this traditional introduction protocol is outside of the scholarly anti-racist and oppression conversation in terms of locating yourself; “where are you from” or “but where are you really from?” What I have come to know is when you locate yourself you are essentially locating yourself to the universe and creation; our first family. Most ceremonies in Anishinaabe country begin by identifying yourself in the language. People usually begin by first stating their Spirit Names, Clans, and the acknowledgement of their traditional territories. This Indigenous methodology of introduction can be found in most Anishinaabe prayers, ceremonies and events.

Also on my travels in most spaces that I have held and or occupied this method of introduction has been well received. I have practiced this method for a long time and each time I locate myself in the language out loud and I hear it come back to me from the universe, I feel a sense of pride, vulnerability, spirituality and connection to our first family.

Kiizhay Meegwetch,

Eddy Robinson M.Ed