Made in Calgary is a collaboration between the City of Calgary and Daily Hive. Together, we’re turning the spotlight onto local businesses, organizations, and individuals who are helping to create a healthy local economy.
Samaria Nancy Cardinal began Mystical Metis as a service-based business, however over the course of six years, the company evolved to offer clothing, accessories, and other merchandise.
Now, the company’s webpage proudly announces that it’s “Southern Alberta’s Metis Sash Central,” although Mystical Metis sells much more than just sashes.
According to the website, Cardinal is a proud citizen of the Metis Nation Of Alberta, with Metis, Blackfoot, and Norwegian/Scottish ancestry. She experienced extreme trauma while she was growing up, which she says led to mental health issues, addiction, and homelessness.
Additionally, Cardinal was misdiagnosed with an illness which she said led to 15 years of her life being lost to treatments that had long-lasting negative effects.
In order to heal herself, Cardinal began to learn a number of different healing methods, along with turning back to her Indigenous culture and traditions.
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“Although she will continue to heal until she takes her last breath on this Earth,” reads the website, in reference to Cardinal, “she now focuses on living and giving back to her community.”
Cardinal is currently a university social work student, patient advocate, and the owner of Mystical Metis, while providing hope for those who think that living a happy life is impossible.
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Initially, Mystical Metis was a service-based business, but the company has changed over the years to now offer products through an online shop and in two Calgary-area locations.
Cardinal says she found that she had a difficult time finding beautiful, high quality Indigenous artist-designed items that were priced appropriately, and she began partnering with Indigenous artists to bring these products to her shop. All artists receive a portion of sales.
At Mystical Metis, you’ll find a combination of both handmade and manufactured products, but everything is designed by First Nations and Metis individuals. The shop features a wide variety of goods, from clothing and accessories, such as bags and purses, face masks, toques, and scarves, to eco-friendly products, jewelry, home- and kitchenwares, children’s items, and much more.
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On her blog, Cardinal discusses the difference between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation, noting that she gets many inquires about whether it’s okay for someone who is not Indigenous to wear and use Indigenously designed items.
“Cultural appreciation comes down to intent,” reads the blog post, adding “Cultural appropriation is all about power dynamics.”
“When you purchase an item created by an Indigenous artist you are admiring and appreciating their culture,” Cardinal says. “When you purchase an Indigenous item made by a non-Indigenous person masquerading as an Indigenous artist, you and they are appropriating.”
She advises to always check to make sure that your Indigenous-design item is actually created by an Indigenous person, and not a non-Indigenous person trying to cash in on a culture that is not their own.
Mystical Metis can be found at Crossroads Market in Calgary, The Hidden Gem in Okotoks, and through the company’s online shop.
Cardinal also does public speaking engagements about spirituality, motivation, overcoming, addiction, mental health, and homelessness. Those interested in having Cardinal speak can contact her to discuss details.