Indigenous Artist, Activist & Educator
Eddy Robinson is an Anishinaabe/Muskegowuk Cree of the Missanabie Cree First Nation who was born and raised in the city of Toronto. Like many Indigenous people in Canada Eddy did not enjoy an easy childhood as an Anishinaabe youth in the big city. His father – a Residential School survivor – left the family when he was just three years old. Eddy subsequently endured years of abuse from an alcoholic parent. Only in his adult years was Eddy able to understand the legacy of his father’s experience at Chapleau Indian Residential School and Shingwauk Indian Residential School.
Eventually ending up in the care of his grandparents, Eddy found himself caught in the same cycle of violence and addiction that dominated his childhood. He credits a Catholic priest at the Native Peoples Parish located in Toronto for first encouraging him to seek out his roots. He pointed Eddy to a traditional Anishinaabe Vision Quest/Fasting held at “Dreamers Rock” located on Manitoulin Island, ON; that would imminently begin his journey towards understanding his Indigenous identity and helping him leave behind the family legacy of abuse and violence.
The power of the Dewegun (Drum) brought Robinson to the doorway of ceremony and other aspects of his Indigenous Way of Knowing. It was during the early years that he was first exposed called him to a heritage that he now credits with saving his life and setting him on a good path in life.
Over the past 25 years of working on the frontline of social services and advocating for Indigenous communities locally, provincially and nationally Eddy has evolved into a noted Anishinaabe artist, musician, educator, facilitator, trainer and public speaker. He’s involved with numerous local district school boards, colleges, universities, corporate institutions and several Indigenous/Aboriginal organizations.
With the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada putting forth 94 recommendations for residential school healing, Eddy engages the TRC through a personal narrative. He discusses growing up as an urban Indigenous person and his professional experience with Indigenous organizations on local, provincial and national levels.
Eddy emphasizes the utter importance of engaging Indigenous people in a respectful and reciprocal way. Reconciliation for Eddy is not only a personal journey of forgiveness of self and others in support of past generations but is very much about being mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually part of this legacy of resurgence.
Eddy encourages non-Indigenous people to seek out a deeper understanding of what it means to be Anishinaabe, Indigenous, First Nations, Métis and Inuit before stepping on the path of reconciliation. A member of the Canadian Council of Aboriginal Business Eddy established his First Nations owned and operated business Morningstar River in 2007 to address the societal need for Indigenous education and displays of authentic culture.
Eddy looks at the methodology of being inclusive of ethno-communities and diversity within the educational systems through Indigenous best practices. Multi-culturalism – although well intended – has been a vehicle that has stifled and silenced many voices. The inclusiveness of the global diaspora and nationhood is crucial to the growth of a nation.
Global citizens have been left out of the conversation of the Indigenous narrative. Truth and Reconciliation is a vehicle that can bring us together. This conversation is important for educators who are on the front line in cultivating the relationship between the next generation of Indigenous & non-Indigenous peoples. Core to this is inclusion and asking the question: How can we strengthen the educational framework for Indigenous learners? As a survivor of the education system, Eddy provides personal accounts of his Indigenous experience growing up in city schools. With a Master’s in Education, he is keenly aware of how the educational system works. Eddy empowers educators, leaders and administrators to be introspective within their educational practice in order to identify how colonialism is perpetuated. Audiences will be equipped to create space for the Indigenous conversation physically, mentally, emotionally and digitally.
• How to incorporate Indigenous insights into strategy and change.
• The ‘5-L’ framework for creating space for Indigenous conversation.
• A structure for educators to approach Indigenous knowledge.
Eddy approaches the topic of Indigenous Ways of Knowing through an urban lens grounded in the Indigenous methodology of locating one self. He also looks at how we can engage Indigenous ways of knowing through modern technology. When Anishinaabe (Ojibway) people locate themselves in the Anishinaabe language they are essentially locating their spirit to the universe and creation. When in the city and we locate ourselves as Indigenous people with Indigenous methodologies we are re-Indigenizing urban spaces. Eddy creates access points for the audience to engage in the conversation.
In this presentation, Eddy shares his personal narrative. He discusses the struggles he faced with his First Nations (Indigenous) identity and the allies who created safe spaces for him throughout his life. Growing up facing struggles of poverty and marginalization, Eddy ended up being on the front line at shelters within the city before making the decision to rewrite his story. He overcame a learning barrier, took on a self-education through books, before eventually obtaining his masters in education and finding himself on the frontline of the academic realm.
This workshop will discuss Indigenous methodologies and how it translates to life today for students, professionals and individuals. This workshop will allow participants to safely ask the question of how we can as a society engage Indigenous Ways of Knowing (culture) within professional and educational environments? There will also be ample opportunity to discuss the current Indigenous presence within society and the distinct differences between; identity (First Nations, Métis and Inuit), culture, language, location and populations.