Cody Coyote: Music and the journey

Mino Bimaadiziwin (Good Life) - Westfest 2018 

"Ain't no party like a Westfest party cause a Westfest party don't stop!" 

On March 4, 2018 I attended the Westfest 2018 Fundraiser and Festival Media Launch that was held at the Cube Gallery in Ottawa, ON, CA. After being involved with Westfest for the past two years I've had the opportunity to meet so many great volunteers, organizers and overall amazing people with whom I will have friendships with for the rest of my life. Among these amazing people are my friends President of EC Production and Producer of Westfest, Elaina Martin and her partner Cara. Getting to know Elaina throughout the years has been a wonderful experience all in itself. Her kind heart, will to help others, warrior spirit and friendship is something that I am honoured to know. Cara has also been someone that I have a growing friendship with and carries one of the kindest presences I know. This year I am excited to reunite with Elaine and Cara as well as everyone at Westfest again and to be able to see the wonderful acts that the festival has in store for it's audience! 

Two years ago on March 6, 2016 I performed at the Westfest 2016 Fundraiser that was held at the Orange Art Gallery with Frazer Lee Whiteduck (Chi-Wiiyahs) and David Charette (White Deer). This was the first of many great experiences that I had with Westfest and I will always remember it. We all brought the right energy for the show and blew the roof off of that place. The excitement, energetic claps, cheers and overall positive vibes from the audience that day will be very hard to forget.

                                         Cody Coyote, Chi-Wiiyahs & White Deer - Westfest 2016 Fundraiser
                                         Photo credit: Westfest

The Westfest 2016 Fundraiser performance opened some doors when I was invited to perform on CTV Morning Live on June 3, 2016 to help promote Westfest. After finding out about this I immediately contacted Chi-Wiiyahs and White Deer to invite them to perform on live television with me. The excitement that we felt was the equivalent to that of which a young child would have going to Disney Land for the first time. This was the first time we performed on live television together and after overcoming nerves, we rocked the house.  

                                      CTV Morning Live: Cody Coyote
                                      Web Link:

After all of the hype and momentum that was there, I remember being super excited about this but Mother Nature had something else in store. When it came time to perform at Westfest 2016, the festival had to shut down the stage for safety purposes and by law regulations due to a severe storm that had hit Ottawa, ON, CA. Receiving this news was heartbreaking. but as time went by I realized that everything happens for a reason. From the way that this played out, it made my spirituality grow further than what it was before. 

On June 2, 2017, after waiting a whole year to perform at Westfest I was given the opportunity to do so again. This time I was performing alongside my good friends and traditional dancers, Frazer Lee Whiteduck (Chi-Wiiyahs), Theland Kicknosway, Don Barnaby and Marian Snow. Nerves had my stomach in a knot, especially because the sky was very cloudy and I was praying to Gitchie Manito (the Creator) that it wasn't going to rain again. When it came time to perform it was as if it was a scene out of a movie and at this moment my spirituality grew further. As soon as all four dancers hit the stage and began dancing, the clouds had cleared the sky and the sun came beaming down on all of us. When this happened we put our all into the performance and represented who we are. This will always be an experience that I will hold close to my heart.

                                      Marian Snow, Don Barnaby, Cody Coyote, Chi-Wiiyahs & Theland Kicknosway - Westfest 2017
                                      Photo Credit: Westfest

                                      Cody Coyote - Westfest 2017
                                      Photo Credit: Andre Gagne - Ottawa Life Magazine

After our performance, the clouds in the sky shut again and continued for the remainder of the day. The way that I still interpret this experience to date is that our ancestors were watching us that day and it reflected through our strong performance together. Carrying the sense of pride that I had after performing that day was something that made me feel incredible and I feel comfortable saying that I know I wasn't the only one feeling that way. 

Fast forward to the present, post Westfest 2018 Fundraiser and Festival Media Launch. Sitting here in a moment of reflection, after finally being able to share the exciting news with the world that I will be headlining Westfest 2018 on Sunday June 10, 2018 at 8:50 PM. I can't help but feel eternally grateful and overwhelmed with emotion. Finally all of the hard work and dedication is paying off.

Never would I have thought that my journey would bring me to where I am today but everyday I give thanks for what I have, who is a part of my life and where I am. Everyone has their own trials and tribulations but we find true strength when we are able to persevere throughout them. I am grateful that I have been able to do so and that by following my heart and my dream it has brought me to this part of my journey. Hearing those words announced... that I will be headlining Westfest, it hit me right in the feels and it took everything in my power to keep my composure. 

                                      Cody Coyote & Elaina Martin - Westfest 2018 Fundraiser and Festival Media Launch
                                      Photo Credit: Westfest

                                      Cody Coyote - Westfest Fundraiser and Festival Media Launch
                                      Photo Credit: Andre Gagne - Ottawa Life Magazine

Not many people know the depth of my story but here's a glimpse of what I feel comfortable sharing and feel people should hear in order to understand who I am now and how I got here. Throughout the bullying in high school for having long hair and being Indigenous. Being harassed, shoulder checked and taunted by older boys and called ugly by girls. Throughout the time where I was actively using alcohol to numb the pain I was feeling. Throughout the time I was using steroids to try and better my outer appearance. Throughout the violence, high speed chases, drugs and gang involvement. Throughout the aftermath of a suicide attempt. Throughout the course of being in a physically, emotionally and verbally abusive relationship for close to a year. Throughout finding myself in a similar situation after taking time to heal then attempting to date again. Throughout being told that I wasn't good enough, that I wouldn't do anything with my life, that I would either end up dead or in jail. Throughout the continued day to day stresses I feel of being an intergenerational survivor of child welfare, seeking to learn my culture and language, hoping to find out what truly happened when my father was adopted in the 60's. I acknowledge that I am still here and that I am a survivor. 

I cried. I cried while giving my friend a big hug and it was because around this time close to six years ago, I was ready to give up on life. Since then I've been able to see the many beautiful things that life has to offer and have been so appreciative to have experienced some of them. This also applies for the wonderful, supportive people that have become a part of my journey. As of March 18, 2012 I have been sober from drugs and alcohol and my life has changed for the better.  Having a stronger connection to my culture has been medicine for me. Having a healthy relationship with my family is something that I value, appreciate, love and cherish more than anything in the world. Having a strong circle of friends means so much to me, as well as the kind women in my life and they all know who they are. Another thing that I will always be thankful for is the amount of love, support and guidance that Elaina has given me through friendship and this music journey. The world should know Elaina by the name that Elder Claudette Commanda has given her, "Ogichidaa Kwe" which means "Warrior Woman" in Anishnaabemowin. Someone who's warrior spirit has and continues to touch many. 

                                                                                   Photo Credit: Nathalie Carrier

When I perform at Westfest 2018, it will be to honour my family, my friends, this mino bimaadiziwin (good life) that Gitchie Manito (the Creator) has given me and anyone who has been through or is going through similar experiences as I have. 

"My people will sleep for one hundred years, but when they awake, it will be the artists who give them their spirit back." - Louis Riel




Parallel: a person or thing that is similar or analogous to another. 

On March 3rd, 2018 I attended the BYAP (Black Youth Action Plan) Ottawa Pop Up event that was hosted by Just Think 1st at the RA Centre in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

While attending the event, there were discussions surrounding various topics of what has been occurring within Black communities as well as covering topics that focused on youth empowerment. One topic that was highlighted was the ongoing gun violence that is currently happening within Ottawa and the violence that is found within Black communities. Just Think 1st has made a commitment to "disrupting the disruption" and ending violence in communities. As an Indigenous ally who lives in Ottawa and has experienced violence, I wanted to attend this event to learn more about how I could help. I knew the best way to do so was to be respectful by being quiet and listening. The more I listened, the more I began to see some similarities between Black communities and Indigenous communities. 

There came a time in the event where there was a break out period which consisted of individual groups having to collectively come up with answers to questions that were provided by the event facilitators. As I sat there and listened, I couldn't help but resonate with some of the answers that came up. The answers that I speak of are the ones that had to do with intergenerational trauma, lack of cultural identity and violence within communities. All of which are similar traits found within Indigenous communities. 

During the event I sat at the table with a woman named Sarah who is a part of Black History Month Ottawa. Sarah and I spoke about how colonialism has affected and created ripple effects for generations of Black people as well as Indigenous people. We spoke about Columbus, the transatlantic slave trade, residential schools and topics relative to our communities. Another thing that we spoke about was how there has been a long existing relationship between the Black Nation and the Red Nation.

                                       "It hurts....." "I know..." 
                                        Artist: Unknown


From times where both were killed, enslaved and imprisoned by white colonialists. To the generations afterwards where both have been statistically proven to have had increasing incarceration rates while in the face of systemic racism. Both have continued to fight for equality, justice and freedom. 

Seeing these parallels has provided the realization of why the relationship was so strong and needs to remain that way. With the ongoing violence, poverty levels, racism, addictions/substance abuse, over representation of inmates within the justice system and other problems that Black and Indigenous communities are facing, solidarity needs to remain among the two. Allies for both need to learn as much as possible and listen to what both communities have to say. 

As part of the healing process many have seen how culture, art, dance and music have affected both communities in a positive way. All of these traits have been present since prior to contact and have been revitalizing. These traits have been medicine for many but they have also been an outlet and something that is used to initiate change. 

Throughout generations resiliency has remained for both groups of people and is something that is increasing as each day passes. Voices have been growing louder and become stronger. People have been becoming more educated and advanced. The only way that we will be able to see change for the injustices that each have faced is by continuing to stand up for what is right, showing our solidarity for each other and using our voices, refusing to be silenced. 

"A single twig breaks, but the bundle of twigs is strong." - Tecumseh

Pink Shirt Day 2018 

“You look like a girl!”…You’re ugly!”…”Get a haircut!”…”You’re dirty!”… 

As touchy of a subject that it is, speaking about bullying and how it affects others is a very important topic that needs to be discussed, especially with the future generations of this world. 

On February 28th, 2018, I had the opportunity to be a guest speaker/performer at the Ottawa Pink Shirt Day 2018 event that was held at the Canterbury Community Centre and hosted by the Canterbury Community Association.

The original “Pink Shirt Day” event had been organized by David Shepherd and Travis Price of Berwick, Nova Scotia. In 2007 they had bought and given out 50 pink shirts after Chuck McNeill, a male ninth grade student, was bullied for wearing a pink shirt during the first day of school. Since then “Pink Shirt Day” events have been held globally and have played a big role in the anti-bullying cause.  

Prior to attending Pink Shirt Day 2018, I had revisited old memories of what things were like for me throughout elementary school and high school. In high school it became apparent that I was “different” when some of the older students would single me out for having long hair. Girls would call me ugly or laugh at me. Feeling my head fly backward due to someone pulling on my ponytail became an unfortunate but regular feeling as well. When this would happen it often lead to the feeling of being enraged and later depressed. In some cases this would also lead to violence, which often resulted in more problems. I remember one day in particular when I was walking down the hallway to go to my locker, I went to tie my hair up and when I did so I had found a piece of gum in my hair. Struggling to get it out I remember having to cut a bit of my hair off, which had added to the embarrassment I was already carrying. As the bullying continued, I later endured racism as a part of it. The old Hollywood “hand over the mouth” gesture made it’s way into the picture except the older suburban caucasian students were the cowboys and well…I was the “Indian”. This lead to taunting, shoulder contact while passing me in the halls and various name calling. 

Being able to share with the youth at this event was something that I will always remember. Their willingness to listen and their want to help provided the older people who attended with hope for the future, myself included. Being able to speak to them and ask them about what traits a leader has and what traits a follower has was something that I feel was pretty receptive. This lead me to teaching them a new word, “Ogimaa” which means “Leader” in Anishnaabemowin. Hearing their claps and excitement when it came time to perform my song “Ogimaa”, off of my album “Mamawi”, was a great feeling as well. When it came close to finishing my speaking session I left the youth with a very special teaching, one that I have kept with me for quite some time. I brought out my eagle feather that had been gifted to me by a friend and as soon as I did the room went completely silent. Followed by this I delivered the teaching, which I have been taught however to not put in writing out of respect for oral tradition. What I will say though is that it had to do with acknowledging that for every negative there is a positive and that we are to support each other throughout our journeys together. I ended by teaching them the word “Mamawi” which means “All Together” in Anishnaabemowin.

After passing down the knowledge that had been given to me with this teaching, two youth had brought up a big painting with the words “Mamawi Together” at the top of it and “We are all flowers from the same garden” at the bottom of it. As if the painting wasn’t already heartfelt enough, these youth had asked me to personally deliver this wonderful painting to the Odawa Native Friendship Centre here in Ottawa. The amount of kindness that this painting carries is something that I am grateful to be able to witness.

Our future generations are learning about bullying and the affects it has on people. They are also learning the true history of what happened here on Turtle Island and are taking the right steps to create positive change. Seeing that they are taking the steps to stand up for what is right warms my heart and I am grateful that they are doing it together, mamawi.

Boozhoo! Welcome! 

Have you ever wondered what an artist’s journey would be like prior to fame? Would you ever want to know what it’s like to walk in their shoes? Have you ever wondered where they find the inspiration behind their music? Behind any form of music, there is an artist. Behind any artist, there is inspiration. Behind inspiration, there is a story. Come take a walk with me throughout mine, I welcome you to my journey. 

My name is Cody Purcell, also known by my stage name Cody Coyote. I am a Hip-Hop/Electronic recording artist, Keynote Speaker and Workshop Facilitator. I was born on April 17th, 1992 and raised in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada with Ojibwe ancestry from Matachewan First Nation, located in Northern Ontario. Throughout my journey I often share portions of my life experiences when I am on stage, keynote speaking or facilitating a workshop. However, I don’t feel that there is ever enough time to share as much as I would like to share, which brings me to this blog. From 2013 to now my journey with music has taken me to so many places. It has allowed me to gain much experience, meet so many great people and to share my story with those who would listen. As each day goes by, there is always something new happening and there is always more to share. For this reason I welcome you to my blog to discover more about my music, my story and my journey.  This is Music and the Journey.