“Corner Gas” star Lorne Cardinal shared some important tips for non-Indigenous people looking to offer their support to Indigenous communities in Canada.
ET Canada spoke with Cardinal for the half-hour special, “ET Canada Presents – Artists & Icons: Indigenous Entertainers in Canada”, which shines a light on a number of talented Indigenous artists and filmmakers on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada.
“The best thing to do is to educate yourself. Start microcosmically, start with yourself. There’s so much information available at your fingertips on the Internet. Do yourself a favour, go seek it out because you will learn more by asking your own questions,” Cardinal shared. “Don’t rely on getting answers from the first Indigenous person you see because, you know, we get asked so much. It’s exhausting and it’s also very personal because we’re going through trauma.”
“All these discoveries of these babies and the young kids, those are people’s families. Those are family relations. Those are kids whose parents were still looking out the window hoping one day to see them walking down the driveway,” the “North of 60” actor continued. “That’s who those spirits and beings are. It takes us time to process that. We’re still in mourning because they’re still not found and they’re still out there.”
“Educate yourself, put in the effort and start locally. That’s the simple thing. Just look around you,” he added.
The “FBI: Most Wanted” actor suggests looking into whose traditional land you are on and which band councils are in your town.
“Always asks questions but do it respectfully and don’t expect everyone to drop everything because you have this tension for knowledge and understanding. You have to have some patience and take it on yourself to learn as much as you can. There’s a lot of information out there so go there first before asking an Indigenous person,” Cardinal said.
Thursday, Sept. 30 marks the first National Truth and Reconciliation Day in Canada, but it’s also known as Orange Shirt Day, a day where we honour the Indigenous children who were victims of the residential school system in Canada.
For Cardinal, Orange Shirt Day is more than just one day per year.
“For me Orange Shirt Day is every day. It’s a national day but it should also be a day of memorial, much like Canada Day. It’s a memorial day for me as well. It’s a reminder of what was taken away from our ancestors, what they gave up hoping for the betterment of their ancestors,” the actor shared.
He continued, “I would just hope that everyone could just take a knee, take a moment in memory and just take a breath. Everyone just slow down and just take a breath, take a look around and be grateful. Be grateful in your own ways and just think of the ones that have gone on before us, what they’ve sacrificed.”
Cardinal said that it’s important for Indigenous youth and communities to remember that they are what their ancestors hoped for.
“We are their dreams so if people remember that it can carry you forward and carry you through,” Cardinal added.
Looking towards the future, the actor hopes that we see an end to drinking water advisories in all Indigenous communities.
“I hope that they all have running water and drinkable water in their communities for one thing,” Cardinal said.
He also hopes that it “doesn’t become a thing” if Indigenous peoples are telling a story.
“It’s just like here’s a Canadian story. Not even a Canadian story, here’s a human story. That’s where I would hope people get to is to stop the ghettoizing and just help the talented people coming up who have these stories burning inside them,” Cardinal said.
“Give them oxygen to get those stories out without the extra weight of being a representation for people. You’re just a human being, that’s a lot of weight to carry and it’s a lot of pressure. In this industry there’s already enough pressures.”
“ET Canada Presents – Artists & Icons: Indigenous Entertainers in Canada” airs on the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation on Thursday, Sept. 30 at 7:30 p.m. ET/PT on Global.