Lewis Cardinal

Date: 2022
Location: Edmonton– kihciy askiy-Sacred Land site
Profile: Born in Sucker Creek Cree First Nation, Lewis Cardinal was nine when he joined his father in Edmonton. His dad, vice-president of the Indian Association of Alberta, inspired him to become a community and political activist. He studied at the University of Alberta, earning a PhD in Indigenous Education, afterwards teaching in the Department of Educational Studies. Politically active, he ran for municipal and federal office. As an educator and communicator, Cardinal emphasizes creating links among Indigenous communities and between their communities and non-Indigenous communities. In 2022, he was Project Manager of the kihciy askiy-Sacred Land site being developed in the North Saskatchewan River Valley near the mouth of Whitemud Creek. It will serve as a unifying cultural site for Indigenous peoples with gathering spaces, sweat lodges, and an outdoor learning amphitheatre. In the interview, Cardinal interprets Canadian history as a partnership, though often unequal, of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people both in the fur trade and settlement periods. His examples demonstrate that “Edmonton was not built by the settler; it was built with the settler.” A former construction worker, he notes that most Edmontonians are unaware that Indigenous labour was crucial in building the CN Tower, roads, and bridges.
Keywords: Fur trade; Indigenous education; Indian Association of Alberta; Indigenous construction labour; Indigenous labour—government restrictions limiting opportunities; kihciy askiy-Sacred Land site
Transcript: Download PDF

See also: Indigenous Labour in Alberta; Systemic Racism