March 21, 2024

By Whitney Kitchur, APTN Communications Coordinator

This spring heralds the launch of the Language Learning for Littles collection on APTN lumi, scheduled for March 25. This thoughtfully curated selection, featuring Indigenous Art Adventures, Anaana’s Tent, Louis Says, Teepee Time and What’s The Word, is crafted to nurture young minds. By introducing children to Indigenous languages such as Inuktitut, Cree, Mi’kmaq and Ojibwe, the compilation encourages the next generation to wear their culture proudly, speak their languages boldly and embrace their identities fully. This initiative not only fosters genuine bonds with Indigenous ways of life, but also plays a vital role in the revitalization and preservation of these languages for future generations. 

At the forefront of this exciting collection is Indigenous Art Adventures, APTN’s latest in-house production, led by the visionary Lance Cardinal. Premiering simultaneously on APTN and APTN lumi on March 23, just before the collection’s launch, this groundbreaking series seamlessly merges artistic expression with storytelling and cultural insights, promising an inclusive and empowering experience without the need for a subscription. 

Reflecting on the origins of his inspiration, Cardinal shares, “In a world clamouring for positivity and affirmation, I found a profound connection through the gentle voices of children’s TV hosts, who taught me I was perfect just as I am.” He intends to pass this sentiment to viewers through the series: “This revelation became the cornerstone of Indigenous Art Adventures—a show that celebrates the art of being uniquely you, encouraging every child to embrace their creativity and spirit without fear of mistakes.” 

Designed with inclusivity at its heart, Indigenous Art Adventures strives to create a space where everyone, Indigenous or non-Indigenous, feels accepted and seen. “Our mission was clear from the start: to create a show that welcomes every child on Turtle Island, irrespective of their background, into a journey of discovery and learning,” Cardinal states. He further notes, “Through our stories and crafts, we’ve observed children develop a keen interest in cultures not their own, igniting curiosity and empathy that reaches beyond the screen. Teachers have shared anecdotes from their students who, inspired by what they’ve seen, have initiated their own projects to explore and share about their heritage.” 

Envisioning the series as a catalyst for positive change in the classroom, Cardinal endeavours to empower teachers with rich, authentic Indigenous content. “We strive to provide educators with the tools they need, fostering an environment where learning is about engaging and living the lessons,” he says. Cardinal foresees a future where classrooms are alive with the spirit of Indigenous art, and where cultural discovery is nurtured daily. 

Incorporating language into the series is crucial for Cardinal, which is why each episode features a Cree word of the day. “It’s not just about art; it’s about culture, language, how we speak to each other, our ideals,” he mentions. By integrating words and kinship terms like ‘auntie,’ ‘kokum,’ or ‘cousin,’ Indigenous Art Adventures promotes respect and understanding of cultural subtleties. “We go beyond simply entertaining; we’re passing on lessons that connect us to our roots,” Cardinal explains. 

By inviting families to explore Indigenous stories, songs and activities together, Indigenous Art Adventures not only aims to inspire individual creativity but also seeks to cultivate deeper connections among families. Cardinal underscores the series’ communal spirit, stating, “We’re not just sharing knowledge, we’re opening doors to shared experiences that bond families closer. It’s about creating moments where parents and children can laugh, learn and create together.” To optimize these shared moments, he recommends a practical approach for viewers: “I think it’s important to first watch the episode, not only to identify the needed supplies but also to consider how the activity might be personalized or expanded upon. This preparation enables families to delve more deeply into the crafting process.” 

Amidst these teachings, the series demonstrates environmental stewardship by creatively repurposing everyday items into meaningful educational tools, like turning paper tubes into rich sources of learning and connection. “Today we created paper tube families, and I shared [the story of] my family,” Cardinal explains, highlighting how simple objects can convey stories of kinship, culture and our relationship with the Earth. He further highlights the importance of open dialogue, saying, “All families are different… Our intention is to introduce subjects that encourage parents and children to partake in meaningful conversations, gently and through their own lens.” 

Looking forward, Cardinal dreams of expanding this vibrant platform into a daily celebration of Indigenous culture. He imagines “a place of endless wonder, akin to Pee Wee’s Playhouse or Sesame Street, but steeped in the rich traditions and narratives of Indigenous Peoples—a daily haven where kids can learn, laugh and grow.” 

As Indigenous Art Adventures readies for its spring release, APTN is offering more than new programming; we’re establishing a pathway for connection, discovery and joy. This series and the Language Learning for Littles collection invite families to a dynamic space where they can learn, sing, dance and create together. Coinciding closely with National Indigenous Languages Day on March 31st, these launches reflect our commitment to celebrating and revitalizing Indigenous languages and cultures. Viewers can sign up for a free trial on APTN lumi to immerse themselves in the diverse experiences of Indigenous Peoples and open a spring of endless possibilities, where every individual finds their place.