Lance Cardinal sits amongst a green screen and a table full of crafts after a long day of filming a new children’s show, Indigenous Art Adventures with Lance Cardinal.
“I think it’s so exciting right now to have an opportunity to bring this type of television back to the kids,” Cardinal says as the host of what can only be considered a passion project of a television show.
An arts and crafts show with a twist, Cardinal will demonstrate how to create projects based on Indigenous culture with household objects and supplies.
“[It’s] going to be a super exciting, cultural adventure of art, song, drumming, language, culture, and of course, children interaction,” says Cardinal.
Viewers will learn how to make dreamcatchers, rattles, and puppets of jingle dress dancers while also learning about Indigenous teachings.
“These things we’re doing for the show are based on some of the Seven Sacred Grandfather Teachings…. We’re talking about protocol, ceremony, we’re talking about how to smudge,” says Cardinal, “We’re bringing what we learned from our elders, from my elders, [and] bringing them forward to our kids in our own way with our own language and our own voice.”
What started out as a YouTube series created by Cardinal quickly caught the attention of APTN due to his vibrant personality and the videos’ educational content.
As an artist, Cardinal has worked with organizations across the country designing murals, shoes, and even a Turtle Island-inspired logo for the Edmonton Oilers.
With years of artistic experience around his belt, he says he wanted to focus on developing kid’s creativity.
“I feel like through art, kids can express themselves in different ways. Through feelings, through colour, through their physical touch. And kids all learn differently and I think it’s important for us to try to find ways for kids to feel good. Not only through success in sports and academics but also creativity.”
He says Indigenous Art Adventures with Lance Cardinal is the missing element in current children’s entertainment.
“[This is] the type of television where we can communicate with [children] and tell them that you are special, you are amazing, and you’re perfect just the way you are. I think that’s something we need right now in this world”
A young child’s dream come true
Building children’s confidence is one of the main goals of the show, something Cardinal says he needed when he was younger.
“The journey’s been sort of full circle for me,” says Cardinal.
As a Two-Spirit child growing up in the small community of Bigstone Cree Nation in Alberta, Cardinal battled with feeling unimportant and like he didn’t have a place in the world.
“There was not a lot of people for me to look up to. No one to sort of have as a mentor in my life,” he says.
But he says finding refuge in children’s television shows like the iconic Canadian series Mr. Dressup made all the difference for him as a kid.
”These children’s television hosts became the people in my life who influenced me, who told me that I was good enough, that I was important, that what I did was okay and I really valued that part of my growing up as a kid,” says Cardinal.
Cardinal wanted to make sure that children nowadays can feel the same security he felt through children’s television.
“… I’m doing this kind of career where I’m encouraging children to feel good about themselves and to learn about themselves, not only as an artist but as a person. To understand that who they are is enough and that being creative is for everybody – it’s just an amazing feeling.”
He says as a Two-Spirit and Cree children’s entertainer, his unique perspective and representation are valuable.
“I think it’s important for me as a Two-Spirit person to really, you know, show that we can be a part of children’s upbringing. That who we are is good enough to come into your home, to teach children about culture, about music, about love and that everyone is available for that. That no kid should be left out.”
Indigenous Art Adventures with Lance Cardinal is slated to premiere next spring on APTN and APTN Lumi.