Lindork’s Lists – Q&A #33: Hunter Cardinal
Note: this is the public version of my email newsletter Q&A that gets sent to paid subscriber inboxes first every other Sunday. You can get these Q&As in your inbox first by becoming a paid subscriber.
Originally published to newsletter subscribers on July 17, 2022
The 33rd person I’m profiling in my Q&A series for paid newsletter subscribers is:
Actor and Naheyawin Director of Story: Hunter Cardinal
Getting to know Hunter Cardinal (he/him):
Hunter Cardinal, 28, is an Amiskwaciwâskahikan (Edmonton)-based actor (who will be starring in the upcoming SCOUT the Series) and Director of Story at Indigenous consulting and education agency Naheyawin, which he co-founded and owns with his sister Jacquelyn.
Whether acting or teaching through his work with Naheyawin, Hunter’s main passion in life is connecting people to the larger and very exciting stories that we’re a part of so that they can feel rooted in turbulent times.
I briefly worked and got to know Hunter and his awesome sister when Naheyawin was housed in the same building as the marketing agency I worked at many years ago. Hunter has something about him that positively radiates—and attracts people and projects to him. He’s an incredibly talented actor, super well-spoken, and full of Indigenous knowledge that he’s using to help businesses, non-profits and institutions reinvigorate the spirit of Treaty into their organizations.
He was once an emcee for the Edmonton International Cat Festival too! (which, I like to think is one of his top career moments, but I am biased lol).
Let’s Dive Into the Q&A with Hunter Cardinal:
Can you describe the work you do and how long you have been doing it?
I’ve been acting professionally (mostly in theatre) since 2015 and I’ve been working at Naheyawin since around 2016.
However, recently, I’ve switched from doing theatre to pursuing film & television opportunities—so most of the time I’m preparing for auditions! But, most importantly, I’ve been exploring different bread and breakfast recipes (I’ve got an AMAZING gluten free waffle recipe which I feel like is the most important thing I’ve learned in my whole life).
Linda’s note: I realized I should’ve asked Hunter if he wants to share his recipe but I didn’t. I will ask and if he does share I will include it in the publicly-posted version of this Q&A lol.
Outside of acting, a lot of my work revolves around providing Indigenous-based solutions for the improvement of diversity and inclusion within businesses and organizations across Turtle Island (or North America). The majority of that work is educational in nature though I also get to help with some very exciting projects being led across the country in the arts, creating welcoming and Indigenous-inspired built environments, providing advice & guidance, and much more (you can tell I’m a HUGE hit at parties :P).
I feel like this work is important for non-Indigenous Canadians, as the diverse perspectives, stories, and ways of doing things within all our communities are needed so that we can build robust solutions to the challenges facing us all.
I strongly believe that looking to Indigenous ways of nurturing communities, celebrating, and using our diversities will help us figure out how to be the Canadians we wish to be! There’s so much good will and wonderful things being done and I want to help continue to empower others to continue doing the good work they’re leading. For Naheyawin in particular, can you talk abut the Tools for Reconciliation training, Indigenous awareness course, and other services you offer? Can you share why it’s important for organizations to take Indigenous / Reconciliation training, why decision making in Canada should be Indigenous informed?
Can you talk about how and why you got into this line of work?
My sister and I have always loved stories—big, small, historic, fiction, etc… – so I feel like the work of educating, acting, and working with people so they can be who they dream they can be was a natural pairing.
Can you share a memorable moment or ‘successes’ in your career / life?
One of my most memorable moments working with Naheyawin was collaborating with the team at the Edmonton International Airport to assemble an Elders and Knowledge Keepers Circle with representatives from major Indigenous political organizations. The stories, knowledges, and humour from everyone in that process is something that I am so thankful for.
- For acting, it’s been anytime my sister and I have produced Lake of the Strangers. Whether it was fundraising, creating, and collaborating with others on that piece of theatre, those experiences were such strong reminders of how supportive and tenacious Edmontonians can be.
Can you share a challenging moment, obstacles or failure in your career / life? And perhaps what you learned from it or how you overcame it?
One of the most challenging things I’ve ever done was deciding to step away from a very prestigious theatre company in order to pursue another path towards storytelling. At the time, turning away from something so sought after by many and trusting in myself was super difficult. When all was said and done, I ended up making one of the best decisions of my life. Also, there were so many people who supported me through that and really inspired me to pay that kindness and warmth forward.
Can you talk about your new project—SCOUT! What can people expect, how can people consume this content?
SCOUT will be a brand new show, shot in Edmonton, that follows an amateur news team and the stories that matter the most. The co-producers, Gabriel Richardson and Emma Houghton, created such an amazing show and assembled the most exciting team. It’s now in post–production and folks can learn more about how to catch it by following me @OneMoreCardinal on Instagram or checking out @Scout_The_Series on Instagram.
Can you talk about perhaps a common misconception, or thing people might assume about acting, actors, making a living as an artist—as well as your work in Indigenous communications and organizational change.
A major misconception that took a while for me to unlearn is the idea that you need to “leave yourself at the door” when acting. We all have such unique life experiences and perspectives, that to leave those gifts at the door is such a loss for some really meaningful and healing storytelling. This was a lesson taught to me by the late Brent Carver and it’s something I’ve held close to my heart in all my projects.
For my work at Naheyawin, it’s understanding that this work of Reconciliation is generational in nature and the change we’re striving for will take time to create. Also, that work of Reconciliation is work without a blueprint. I believe that if our actions can come from the heart, and be specific to who you are and what you are able to do in your sphere of influence, we’ll be able to create some lasting change.
As well, since it’s a long journey, treating yourself and others with warmth and kindness will help make sure we can continue travelling together in a good way.
Can you share advice for others around what they can do to participate in meaningful acts of reconciliation?
Find out how your interests, whether it’s food, sports, music, and so on, intersects with Indigenous peoples and culture! This will help make sure any initiatives you create or take part in are aligned with who you are, what you love, and help make those actions sustainable for the long term. As well, think about where some of your money goes on a monthly basis – is there any way you can support Indigenous businesses or artists? Small choices like that can create some very tangible impacts.
Can you tell me about your hobbies! What do you do for fun?
I bake bread! I also go on walks with close pals and family whenever possible in the river valley. Aside from that, I nerd out about VERY specific things like ancient military history, anime (big Naruto fan–but don’t tell anyone), and diving into any science fiction or fantasy based worlds.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your work professionally, personally, or anything that I’ve missed that you’d like mentioned?
One thing that is very important to say is a lot of the work and accomplishments were due to the work and support of others—I can’t take any credit.
To name a few (of MANY): my sister (Jacquelyn), parents and extended family, acting mentors like Salvatore Antonio and Millie Tom, Murray Utas, Bradley Moss, Chris Henderson, Lynn Wyton, Blake Desjarlais, Catrin Owen, and so many more. Also, my cat nephew—Danvers.
Wrapping up our Q&A:
What show would you recommend people watch on Netflix?
The Ranking of Kings. It’s such a beautiful show and I can’t recommend it enough!
Is there a book or podcast you recently read (or doesn’t have to be recent) that you would recommend to others and why?
Whitemud Walking by Matthew James Weigel is an incredible and beautiful piece that explores Treaty.
Coconut by Nisha Patel is so beautiful. I can’t even. I highly recommend this! Nisha’s poetry and command of language is breathtaking and healing. Linda’s note: Nisha was also featured in a previous Q&A! Read the publicly-posted Q&A with Nisha Patel on my blog.
Also–just in general–check out the Glass Bookshop downtown to find more amazing Edmonton writers and poets. We’re so spoiled to live here.
What is a fav local restaurant or store you’d recommend?
In terms of restaurants, The Next Act Pub is a pillar in the Edmonton acting ecosystem. You’ll typically see me there gushing over the amazing artists who gather there and the incredible crew who run that spot. Also, I believe that they have the best poutine. Just saying.
For stores, Poppy Barley is such an incredible place for accessible, ethical, and sustainably produced shoes. I have a pair of boots from them and they’re one of my most prized possessions.
Also, my waffles – they’re amazing.
What’s something about Alberta you love or recommend others check out?
Honestly – it’s quite simple (and central): our river valley. It’s such an ancient gathering place for so many since time immemorial to today.
Go there with a friend, family, fur-family, and you’ll understand why so many people love living here.
Thanks Hunter, for sharing your story!
You can connect with Hunter on:
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