Having inspired generations of Native American and First Nations people with her work in film and television for over 40 years, Tantoo Cardinal received the inaugural August Schellenberg Award of Excellence at the imagineNATIVE awards show on Saturday.
Cardinal has appeared in more than 100 TV, film and theatre productions, including APTN’s Blackstone, Dances with Wolves, Mohawk Girls, Blood River, North of 60, Strange Empire, Legends of the Fall, Arctic Air, Every Emotion Costs and Loyalties.
Known for her dedication and work for the rights and culture of indigenous people, Cardinal is also a member of the Order of Canada, and a passionate activist on behalf of Aboriginal people and culture.
“We are absolutely delighted to name Tantoo Cardinal as the recipient of this new award, honouring the legendary actor August Schellenberg,” said Jason Ryle, imagineNATIVE’s Executive Director. "Tantoo is a trailblazer in this community, just as Augie was."
According to the imagineNATIVE release, the August Schellenberg Award of Excellence was created in partnership with Joan Karasevich Schellenberg to honour her late husband and the spirit of his work. The annual award will be presented to gifted Indigenous actors based on the longevity and impact of their career, as well as their professionalism and involvement in mentorship and community work.
The award is a testament to the late Schellenberg (Mohawk) who also performed in hundreds of theatre, film and television productions throughout his decades long career. His projects included Saving Grace, Free Willy, Black Robe, North of 60 and Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. He was nominated for an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie for his role as Chief Sitting Bull in Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, and played the lead role in an all-First Nations version of Shakespeare’s King Lear at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre.
Hawaiian Kumu, activist and artist Pua Case and Hawane Rois shared music, and prayers from the Islands.
The imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival is the world’s largest Indigenous festival showcasing innovation in film, video, audio and digital media. The Festival presents the most compelling and distinctive works from Canada and around the globe, reflecting the diversity of the world’s Indigenous nations, and illustrating the vitality and excellence of Native art and culture in contemporary media.
The 16th annual imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival was held in Toronto Canada from October 14-18, 2015. Info at http://www.imaginenative.org/