Lance Cardinal wanted a way to keep his nieces and nephews busy while they stayed at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since he couldn’t be with his family in northern Alberta, the Edmonton-based artist, who has designed sets and props, acted and painted, decided to use his talents to create a kids show for his family.
But the artist from Bigstone Cree Nation wanted the online show, which he called Family Art Adventures, to feature more than just a craft tutorial.
He wanted to teach the Cree language and tell kids about Alberta’s Indigenous communities.
“I wanted to continue to connect with them and find a way to help our kids, our families and our Indigenous communities, especially up north, have an outlet of positivity and creativity to do as a family,” he told CBC’s Radio Active on Monday.
He started small, recording the first episode of Family Art Adventures in his studio apartment by propping his phone up against a can of soup and broadcasting to family and friends on Facebook.
“It was a really steep learning curve,” he said of learning how to do a live broadcast.
The 40-minute-long show has evolved over its last eight episodes. It is now broadcasted on YouTube every Saturday morning to a small, but loyal audience.
Cardinal has also improved the format of the show by purposefully connecting the crafts to a history lesson of an Indigenous community.
In a recent episode, Cardinal provided a brief history lesson on the Métis Nation and floral beadwork before teaching kids how to make a Métis-style felt flower.
It’s about sharing his knowledge with a younger generation, said the former teacher.
“As I did the crafts, I realized I could also incorporate some [Cree] words. Did some episodes incorporating some words, colours, greetings, numbers, things like that in the Cree language,” he said.
Cardinal told Radio Active it’s important to teach children about Indigenous culture and artists “to help promote art as a career as something very viable, strong and rich here in Edmonton and Alberta as well.”
“It’s not a very difficult thing to do to share language and culture in a fun way, especially for kids. They want to learn, want to learn about other cultures and I think that’s the best time to be teaching this,” Cardinal said.
We need to show [kids] more positivity, more support and more love, more authentic love– Lance Cardinal, artist
The entertainer isn’t sure how long he will keep up this new Saturday morning routine as he plans to return to his job as the Indigenous program advisor at Fort Edmonton Park once restrictions are lifted.
But for now, he’s just happy to spread some joy during this difficult time for many families.
“We need to show [kids] more positivity, more support and more love, more authentic love,” he said.
“It’s good to provide a half-hour, one-hour situation where I can tell them they’re worth it, they’re valuable and their art and their creations are perfect the way they are.”