Family of 9 year old Arizona Cardinal building lodge in her memory


Arizona Cardinal was just nine years old when brain cancer took her life on Feb. 7, 2021.

APTN News first showed Arizona last Halloween, when families of her St. Albert community visited her outside her home.

She was too sick to trick or treat herself.

At that time, her story even caught the attention of actor Ryan Reynolds who made a video message for her.

“You are surrounded by people that are immensely in love with you,” Reynolds said in the video. “There is probably no greater gift in this world than to be surrounded by people like that.”

Her family says that Arizona loved to learn about her culture and traditional teachings.

Andre Bear is her uncle.

“She was always at our Sweat Lodges, Sundances, any kind of ceremony we had” Bear told APTN.

“She loved to learn our ceremonial songs, and take care of the children that were there while all the parents were in prayer.”

Arizona Cardinal
Arizona Cardinal in an undated photo. ‘She loved to learn our ceremonial songs,’ says her uncle.

Now Bear wants to honour Cardinal.

He has set up a GoFundMe to raise money to complete construction of the Indigenous Turtle Lodge.

It’s currently being built on the Alexander First Nation, on Treaty 6 Territory in Alberta.

The Lodge will teach youth about language, ceremonies and living on the land. For those who don’t have access to it.

“We believe that every Indigenous child has the right to know who they are through our ceremonies, through our spiritual practices,” he said.

One of the elders teaching is Fred Campion who has been sharing his knowledge for more than 30 years.

He’s also Arizona’s adopted grandfather.

“It’s really hands on, we go onto the land, a simple thing like making a fire. Where do you start? How do you start?”

Bear said having a permanent home will allow more young people to learn.

The fundraiser can be found at Turtle Island Lodge.

Video Journalist / Edmonton

Chris Stewart has been in the media for 20 years. He has worked at CBC, Global and CTV as a news camera operator and editor. Chris joined APTN in 2012 in the Saskatoon Bureau and moved to APTN Edmonton bureau in 2015 as a Videojournalist.