By Chevi Rabbit, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
(ANNews) – In recent years, Cody Coyote’s rise to fame has been undeniable. The talented artist often raps about his lived experience and shares his experiences of targeted discrimination in Alberta.
In an exclusive interview with reporter Chevi Rabbit from Alberta Native News, The Hip Hop Star opened up about his healing journey around residential schools and the impacts the Sixties Scoop had on his family.
Cody Coyote is of Ojibwe/Irish descent with ancestry from Matachewan First Nation. His newest album, Passage (June 2022) shares a story of overcoming the challenges faced in
Indigenous communities, persevering through them and healing from intergenerational trauma.
On September 29, 2022, Coyote performed at the Truth and Reconciliation National Gathering Concert in Mississauga by showcasing his newest line from the Bimaadiziwin Collective – “Resist, Disrupt, Reclaim.”
His album covers featured Alberta Metis and Cree Influencers Sheena Kaine and Jacqueline Buffalo.
According to Coyote, “Racism is thick in Alberta.”
“I remember walking down the street for a morning walk, and I was stopped by a police officer who then questioned me on who I was, where I was from, if I was Indigenous, and what I was doing,” said Coyote.
He said, “I answered by saying that I was going to use an outdoor exercise park, that I’m Ojibwe from Matachewan First Nation, and mentioned I had been visiting from Ottawa.”
He describes the incident as being openly racially profiled and harassed for being Indigenous in public spaces by small-town Police in Alberta. His experience aligns with what local Indigenous people experience – an outdated policing system that stereotypes, discriminates, and racially profiles Indigenous people.
Alberta RCMP recognizes that systemic racism is an issue in Alberta and developed a Diversity Committee to help modernize the RCMP to serve the needs of Alberta’s growing diversity.
Coyote often comes out to Alberta to collaborate with and uplift other Indigenous Artists. Most recently, he teamed up with Pooky G, who recently won album of the year at the 2022 International Indigenous Hip-Hop Music Awards in Winnipeg.
Coyote also gives talks about his lived experiences. For example, he often shares with inner-city youth about gangs and his turbulent childhood.
“My experience with being involved in gang activity was at a point in my life where I was very angry and vulnerable, had been facing things like bullying and racism and trying to find a place of belonging,” said Coyote.
He was an angry biracial youth whose father was a part of the 60’s Scoop, he explained. He knew little about his Indigeneity, family, or community and faced other challenges growing up.
“I found comfort in the darkness,” said Coyote. “I learned that it was very easy to slip through the cracks and quickly became immersed in a lifestyle filled with drugs, alcohol, crime, and violence.”
“I’ve also learned I’m one of the lucky ones who got out,” he added. “I’ve prayed for those I used to roll with in hopes they would too. The fact of the matter is, many people I used to hang with are locked up doing serious time or dead. That’s where this road leads.
“As much as I wish it were easy to stop this from happening to others, I realize now that it’s tough to address, especially when it’s a systemic issue stemming from the Canadian government pushing people into poverty and many are trying to find means of survival in any way that they can.”
Coyote continued, “This is the same government responsible for active genocide towards Indigenous people and has created a revolving door for Indigenous folks and other people of color in the prison system.
“In my case, I was a lost, vulnerable boy filled with anger and sadness and I made several bad decisions that I’m not proud of, but I learned from them.
“If I were to try and identify things that could help prevent that from happening to other Indigenous youth, it would be to create more Indigenous lead cultural healing spaces for young Indigenous men to be vulnerable, challenge toxic masculinity, healthily support each other, navigate sobriety and have access to employment services,” explained Coyote.
“Ultimately building a place for support, accountability, and growth.”
“My healing process has taken time, reflection, and growth each day,” noted Coyote. “Writing down my thoughts, exercising, being around cultural environments, and creating music has been a big part of that.”
He said that doing these things has helped him grow on his own but learning that it’s okay to ask and accept help has allowed him to heal even more.
“To each their own but therapy has helped me a lot and surrounding myself with healthier people has also done so. Throughout it all, learning to love myself fully has brought me to 10 years of sobriety from drugs and alcohol, becoming the best version of myself, and living my best life, which I’m thankful for,” concluded Coyote.
“My hope for this chapter of my life is to allow other people to see that it’s possible to do the same.”