With an interest in the environment, she worked as a conservation officer and earned a diploma in renewable technology, but eventually settled on a law career.
She worked as a Crown prosecutor in Regina, La Ronge and Saskatoon.
And she was a teacher.
Willie Ermine helped hire Cardinal for a position as sessional lecturer in Indigenous law at the First Nations University of Canada in Prince Albert. She fit in well, he says.
“I always had the sense she really wanted to work with the students,” he says.
“She had a good mind for Indigeneity.”
In 2006, Cardinal became Saskatchewan’s first designated prosecutor for environmental offences.
“It was something very close to her heart,” says Matthew Miazga, a Crown prosecutor who worked with Cardinal in Saskatoon.
Miazga now does environmental prosecutions, but says Cardinal defined the role.
She did educational seminars with conservation officers, travelled across North America to talk about environmental law and worked with an organization focused on environmental crime, he says.
She also loved fishing and created elaborate wood carvings of game birds.
“I’m just laughing because I’m looking on my desk. I still get her subscription to the Western Canadian Game Warden (magazine),” he says.
“Maybe she’s wondering why she hasn’t got them for several years.”
Darrell Crabbe, executive director of the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation, sat in on a few cases that Cardinal prosecuted. He credits her for helping increase fines and penalties for people guilty of environmental crimes such as illegal hunting and outfitting.
“Inez was instrumental in changing, I would say, the legal system’s attitudes towards the values of fish and wildlife,” he says.
Cardinal knows her way around a courtroom and is not the type to suffer fools, adds Miazga, who has appeared in front of her since she was appointed to the bench in Melfort in 2012.
He also remembers her playing in some office hockey matches.
“She could be a pretty tough opponent ... and I seem to recall her being somebody you’d rather have on your team.”