The Story of God with Morgan Freeman: Eddy Robinson Telling His Story on the Anishinaabe [Exclusive Interview]

The Story of God with Morgan Freeman on NatGeo channel is not just about God, but it’s also about on how we are soul searching and finding our way towards the meaning of life.

In its third season, The Story of God with Morgan Freeman continues to explore the impact of religion on the human journey by examining the aspects of faith—or lack thereof—that shape us daily. With Academy Award-winning actor Morgan Freeman as a guide, audiences are transported to some of the world’s holiest sites to investigate the similarities of religious principles across faiths and their impact on the world. Morgan’s curiosities drive him to explore some of the most pressing religious questions—do people among us embody the divine? Is there a way to overcome our sins? Are morals still instructed by God’s commandments? Morgan ventures to sites around the world to search for answers.

LRM Online exclusively spoke with Eddy Robinson, a noted Anishinaabe artist, musician and speaker. He spoke with us about his journey, his culture and being on the show.

He is featured on tonight’s episode of The Story of God with Morgan Freeman. Morgan visited Robinson in Toronto to talk about on how his vision quest changed his life.

Check your local listings for the time and schedule for The Story of God with Morgan Freeman.

Read our interview below.

LRM: Hello! I should actually use your greeting term. What is it? Boozhoo! [Laughs]
Eddy Robinson: Yup. Yup. Boozhoo! Booshoo. Depends on which side of Lake Superior you’re on. They’re both correct.

LRM: Terrific. How were you approached to be on this show? What was your initial reaction?

Eddy Robinson: On how it happened was that I wrote an article for Toronto Life magazine. It was based on the vision quests. My experience was my first interaction with my culture. It happened to come through an abnormal ally for us in terms of the story. [Laughs] It came through the way of a Catholic priest. He showed us in the way that this is fascinating. These are medicines. This is an elder. This is how things are done in terms of prayer. Since that point, I kind of didn’t look back. I just journeyed more towards my culture. I wrote about that first on Toronto Life magazine and somebody must have read it. Then I got a call from National Geographic about sharing the story with an episode of Story of God, which I thought was just phenomenal. I can’t believe it. It’s all still surreal to me on how this kind of all came to be.

LRM: Why don’t you tell me this story? I’m about this priest who actually inspired you to be one with your culture.

Eddy Robinson: My grandparents were devout Catholics. They grew up this way in terms of Ontario, Canada. They grew up in a place. It was originally a First Nation, but it got to ask permission. They didn’t have to go to residential school, but their everyday life within that community was like a residential school. They still couldn’t leave when they wanted to. They needed permission. Due to those impacts, they were very strict Catholics. They had to do the first communion. They had to do my confirmation. I was an altar boy. It all happened within the constructs of a urban city.

This priest came from out east. His name was Father Jack. He came to this native peoples’ parish in Toronto. He really started bringing back the language into the mass and the service. He started bringing the drum in. He started bringing this medicine, like sweet grass, sage tobacco and cedar. Then when we had to do our confirmation, he took us up to Dreamers Rock, which is a very powerful spiritual place for an Anishinaabe. There was a jubilee up this way. He took us on a fast. He introduced us to an elder. He did ceremonies and talking circle ceremonies. It was just phenomenal. It was just amazing. When it came time for my confession and he asked me, “What do you want, Eddy? Do you want your culture? Do you want the church?” And I said, “I want my culture.” He said, “That’s good. That’s all I wanted you to decide.”

It was an unexpected ally. This person. This figure. A priest showed me to my culture for the first time. Since that point, I was on the drum. I found another fasting ceremony, which was in Minnesota where I spent time at the end of October. That was an amazing spiritual experience. That’s where it had my visions. Life has been so amazing in terms of the learning opportunity that I’ve had. It took allies like that person, Father Jack, to kind of really pointed me in a good direction. It put me on a good path. Stereotypically, they would be seen as beacons converting people to their religion. He was pointing me more towards my culture. That was way before truth and reconciliation even existed up to this part of the continent. They were doing all those kinds of things within the church.

LRM: It sounds like you became very spiritual, but are you still religious?

Eddy Robinson: I’m not religious, but I am very spiritual. [Laughs]

LRM: Tell me more about this culture. I’m going to try to pronounce it. Anishinaabe.

Eddy Robinson: Anishinaabi. Anishinaabe is like a us. We are the Ojibwe. We are the human beings. Anishinaabi means human beings of this territory of this land. Anishin, the root word, it means good. So the good people.

LRM: What comprises of the culture for yourself?

Eddy Robinson: It’s all about a relationship with creation. It’s all about your relationship with first family. You look at creation and the natural environment as your first family. When you go fasting, do ceremonies pay reference in song, you’ll always give respect and acknowledgement to creation in the universe. The moon. The sun. The Earth. The wind. Everything. The elements. Life. You’re very protruded, very grateful for all those kinds of things. We’re always giving thanks. We’re always giving blessings. Giving thanks for this good life. We have all these words that are very significant. They don’t translate the same into English. There is much more to it.

Even our casual hello, Aaniin means, “I see your light.” I see your light, you kno. It’s just all these kinds of things, in terms of this this way of knowing, hasn’t been compartmentalize. Something that flows through everything. It’s like Star Wars and The Force. We haven’t put it in an institution in terms of our religion. One of the things that we understand is that we accept our difference. Not every Ojibwe nation will believe the same thing. It will be very common in terms of our beliefs in languages. We might have different perspectives on it. There’s over 1,100 nations in North America. A lot of us will have different languages, different customs, different ways of doing things and very different philosophies. That’s the beautiful thing is. That’s what we accepted about each other that we had that difference in that diversity.

LRM: What is your role now trying to spread the culture around?

Eddy Robinson: I try to give an awareness to the timeline to what has happened. I try to a lot of the things that have been omitted from history. Talk about who we are as indigenous people in these territories, in these areas, in these cities. We’re much more than the stereotypes that was objectified. We’re not Chief Wahoo from the Cleveland Indians. We’re not the mascot from the Washington Redskins. We’re not the objectified characters that people trying to associate us with. We’re much more than that. There’s much more to who we are. There are great leaders that we have in our history that don’t get any reference paid to them. There’s so many leaders today even that are doing some amazing things to create social change.

My whole thing is to go around educated people by doing keynotes. This opportunity came for National Geographic to come in and create space for this story on there. Story of God with Morgan Freeman was absolutely amazing. How much weight is this going to give to that narrative? This is awesome. This is amazing. This is really contributing to the work I’m already doing and have been doing for the past 20 years.

LRM: Did you have the chance to meet Morgan Freeman in person?

Eddy Robinson: On the day of the shoot, in between filmings, we’ve got to talk about real things. Kind of sharing and educating him about the indigenous people in this territory. Even about some of my father’s experience in residential school. Those kinds of real, real things. I met him again in Pasadena. Talking about family. Talking about the universe. Just really deep things. It was just an extraordinary experience.

LRM: Who you’re trying to target for this awareness?

Eddy Robinson: Everybody. Anyone from people living in poverty to living on the margins to people living in privilege. It’s about picking up on how we can create space for this narrative. I really call on people that have that privilege, as well, to use that privilege to create an awareness. I want to help with that. I want to help with this relationship moving in a good direction, moving forward, moving together. We can do this. We can create this social change.

LRM: If people want to know more about this, but they can’t make it to your talk. How can they actually reach out?

Eddy Robinson: I have a website. You just Google me. There is e-mail form on there. I do try upload a lot of videos that have talked on. Even if they just send me an email–I can try and I could try to give them resources through email, such books to read, suggestions, videos to watch, all those kinds of things. I have a lot of that on my website too.

LRM: Thank you Eddie for speaking with me. I can’t wait to check out your episode on National Geographic.

Eddy Robinson: Thank you for interviewing me. You have a good day.

Check your local listings for the time and schedule for The Story of God with Morgan Freeman.

Source: LRM Online Exclusive

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