University of Calgary


September 22, 2009

Fine arts, native communities lose a giant

Joane Cardinal-Schubert attended The Native Centre’s annual graduation ceremony on campus. / Photo: Courtesy Native Centre

Joane Cardinal-Schubert attended The Native Centre’s annual graduation ceremony on campus. / Photo: Courtesy Native Centre
The University of Calgary has lost a longtime friend and supporter with the unexpected passing of multi-media artist, writer, aboriginal advocate and alumna Joane Cardinal-Schubert, BFA’77, LLD’03. She died last Thursday in Calgary at the age of 67, succumbing to a second battle with cancer.

Throughout her career, Cardinal-Schubert held various roles within the university community. After completing her undergraduate degree, she was assistant curator at the U of C Art Gallery in 1978 and at The Nickle Arts Museum from 1979 to 1985. Cardinal-Schubert also served for several years on the U of C Senate and the Alumni Association board. She had a strong connection to The Native Centre on campus, attending the centre’s annual graduation ceremony to present an award named for her brother, the renowned Canadian architect Douglas Cardinal. The Native Centre’s Hon. Dr. Douglas Cardinal Award recognizes an aboriginal community member demonstrating excellence in their profession and mentoring aboriginal students.

The painting Hoop Dancer

The painting Hoop Dancer—There is Another Kind of Heaven by Joane Cardinal-Schubert was jointly donated by Mel Benson and the artist to the U of C’s Native Centre.
In 2003, the university recognized her with an honorary degree for contributions to the visual arts in Canada and to her community. Four years later, in 2007, Cardinal-Schubert received a National Aboriginal Achievement Award recognizing her “penetrating ideas on contemporary First Nations’ experiences and its denunciation of Euro-American religious and governmental systems.”

“She had a very strong perspective on the importance of aboriginal art in Canada and on the aboriginal voice being heard across the nation,” said Shawna Cunningham, director of the U of C’s Native Centre. “Her art contained so many metaphorical layers and symbolic messages. She was articulate and she always made it very clear that she spoke from her own paradigm and belief system.”

Cardinal-Schubert’s last public exhibition in Calgary was at Masters Gallery, mounted last summer to coincide with the Calgary meeting of the Royal Canadian Academy. “Artists,” she said firmly in a 2007 interview, “do not retire.”

A celebration of Cardinal-Schubert's life will be held at Masters Gallery on Oct. 3.

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