Tantoo Cardinal

Tantoo Cardinal is a Canadian film and television actress.

Date of birth

She was born on 20 July 1950.


Tantoo Cardinal was born the youngest of three children to Julia Cardinal, a woman of Cree and Métis descent, and was raised by her grandmother, who nick-named her Tantoo.

Early life

Cardinal was raised in the hamlet of Anzac, Alberta. The lack of electricity inspired her to use her imagination while playing in the bush. Her grandmother nicknamed her “Tantoo” after the insect repellent they used while picking blueberries together. She taught Cardinal the Cree language, the traditional ways of their culture and the difficulties she would face growing up Métis in Canada. Cardinal has said that it was walking behind her grandmother where she first learned to act.


Details about her education are not yet available.

Love life

Cardinal met her first husband, Fred Martin, while boarding at his family’s home during her high school years in Edmonton. They were married from 1968 to 1978 and had a son, Cheyenne, prior to their divorce. She had her second son, Clifford, with actor Beaver Richards. From 1988 to 2000, Cardinal was married to actor John Lawlor, with whom she had a daughter, Riel.

Net worth

Not yet established.


Cardinal has played roles in many notable films and television series, including Spirit BayDances with WolvesBlack RobeLegends of the FallSmoke SignalsHold the Dark and North of 60.

She was cast in the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation mini-series By Way of the Stars with Gordon Tootoosis as The Cree Chief and Eric Schweig as Black Thunder.

In 2009, she was made a Member of the Order of Canada "for her contributions to the growth and development of Aboriginal performing arts in Canada, as a screen and stage actress, and as a founding member of the Saskatchewan Native Theatre Company".

On August 23, 2011, Cardinal, Margot Kidder, and dozens of others were arrested while protesting the proposed extension of the Keystone Pipeline.

In 2012, she performed the role of Regan in an all-aboriginal production of William Shakespeare's King Lear at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, alongside a cast that also included August Schellenberg as Lear, Billy Merasty as Gloucester, Jani Lauzon in a dual role as Cordelia and the Fool, and Craig Lauzon as Kent.

In 2017, she was named the winner of the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television's Earle Grey Award for lifetime achievement.

In the 2018 film The Grizzlies, she plays a high school principal who is skeptical a first-time teacher can address social issues in the northwestern Nunavut community of Kugluktuk.

Contact Details

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Tantoo Cardinal
First Name Tantoo
Surname Cardinal
Born 20th July, 1950
Home City Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada
Current City