Tantoo Cardinal

Tantoo Cardinal is one of the most renowned Aboriginal actresses in the world. Probably best known for her role as Blackshawl in Dances With Wolves, Ms. Cardinal has amassed a long list of awards for her work in theatre, television and film. She received best actress awards from the American Indian Film Festival, the Alberta Motion Picture Industry, and from international film festivals in Portugal and Zimbabwe for her role as Roseanne, in Anne Wheeler’s feature film Loyalties. Since then, Ms. Cardinal has received numerous awards for her work in film and theatre. She was also listed on the Maclean’s Magazine Honour Role in 1991, and received an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from the University of Rochester in 1993. This quick listing of Ms. Cardinal’s resume doesn’t give a sense of her ability as an actress. She infuses her characters with warmth and honesty, and has had directors re-write roles if she felt they were a dishonest portrayal of Aboriginal people. Her strength stems from her upbringing in her Métis culture. Raised in Anzac, a rural town in northern Alberta, Ms. Cardinal had to move to Edmonton to finish her high school education. Her ability to overcome racist taunts and other hardships in the unfamiliar city became the basis of the confidence and charm that she now exudes on stage and screen.