A Canadian Ikea has gotten a bit of an Indigenous makeover. The retailer’s Edmonton location teamed up with Lance Cardinal, an artist from the Bigstone Cree Nation in Alberta’s Treaty 8 territory, to create its first Indigenous showroom.
Cardinal, whose artist name is ᐊᐧᒐᐢᐠ (muskrat), said the 410 sq-ft. showroom was modelled after a family of five from the Samson Cree Nation and the Montana First Nation. It features a living room, dining room, kitchen and garage.
He told HuffPost Canada the room is meant to be both warm and inviting to shoppers and share what a contemporary Indigenous lifestyle looks like.
“Some of the elements in this room are very familiar to me growing up: the Frozen moose meat in the freezer, the kitchen table full of sewing items, the walls filled with Indigenous art,” he said.
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Personal touches are scattered around the room, and it features geometric patterns found in homes on reserves. He also incorporated the Cree language and the four colours of the medicine wheel — black, white, yellow and red — in the design.
“I think it is amazing to see this type of acknowledgment on such a big scale with thousands of visitors a day who will be passing through the room,” Cardinal said.
“It is a chance to teach and share and it is an opportunity for people to get a small glimpse of who we are as Indigenous people. They can observe our lifestyle in a welcoming and accessible way,” he added.
“I’ve always believed that the key to bringing Indigenous and non-Indigenous people together is understanding each other and seeing where we’re the same and where we are different.”
Cardinal said the project represents a step towards reconciliation with Indigenous communities and an acknowledgement that Ikea is on Indigenous land. He also worked with the Swedish furniture company on a mural over the summer.