Cree Artist Creates Indigenous Ikea Showroom

By Ben Hamill - December 09 2020
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Indigenous representation has finally come to Ikea. The world-famous retailer’s Edmonton location has bunched up with Bigstone Cree Nation visual artist Lance Cardinal to create the big brand’s very first Indigenous showroom.

Cardinal, who is a native of Alberta’s Treaty 8 territory, said the Ikea showroom was modelled after and inspired by a family from the Samson Cree and Montana First Nations. The instalment features a dining room, kitchen, living room, and garage. The idea behind the room is for it to be warm and welcoming – inviting shoppers in and sharing with them what it is a modern-day Indigenous lifestyle looks like.

Many of the elements incorporated into the space are familiar to him, said Cardinal of his creation, and most notably things like the frozen moose meat in the freezer and the sewing items strewn across the kitchen table.

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Showing Indigenous To The World

Also featured is the Cree language – along with the four colours of the traditional medicine wheel, namely white, black, red, and yellow. Poignant also is that the personal touches added by the artist to the room are all displayed in such a way that these form geometric patterns such as those found in homes on the some 3,100 Indian reserves scattered across Canada.

What the room represents most powerfully of all, said Cardinal, is acknowledgement of Canada’s Indigenous people on a big scale. Thousands of visitors will be passing through the new space every day, said the artist, visitors who will possibly for the first time ever experience Indigenous lifestyle and culture in a way that is both informative and accessible.

We’re Different – But The Same

The project essentially represents a move towards reconciliation with First Nations. But more than that, said Cardinal, it’s a public acknowledgement that Ikea itself is on Indigenous land.

Cardinal also said that he’s always believed that the best way to bring Indigenous and non-Indigenous people together is to create a clear and visual understanding of each other by allowing people to see the similarities as well as the differences between the different ways of life and living. Not only is the room a great space for beautiful furniture, but it is also a medium that involves and incorporates many different lessons and teachings, said the famous Cree artist, who has worked in Alberta for over 25 years.

The Swedish manufacturer earlier this year partnered with Cardinal to design and create a 40-foot mural at their store in Edmonton.

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