Dr. Warren Cariou


Dr. Warren Cariou (Associate Professor, English) is a writer, Professor, documentary filmmaker and Director of the Centre for Creative Writing and Oral Culture at the University of Manitoba. Cariou specializes in the areas of Aboriginal Literature, Creative Writing, Oral Culture, and Psychoanalytic and Postcolonial Theory. Cariou’s work is particularly concerned with Indigenous human rights with a focus on seeking out indigenous voices in order to see how indigenous people are responding to corporate incursions into their land and their lives.  Cariou works to explore new ways of understanding and combating human rights abuses that have been directed toward indigenous people.

Cariou analyzes his areas of specialization through a variety of mediums. In 1999, Cariou published a collection of novellas, The Exalted Company of Roadside Martyrs, which led renowned Canadian author Alistair MacLeod to label Cariou as one of the very best young authors of our time. Cariou followed this effort with his 2002 memoir, Lake of the Prairies, which won the 2002 Drainie-Taylor Prize for Biography and was shortlisted for the Charles Taylor Prize.Lake of the Prairies is an examination of the psychology and politics of racial identification and discrimination in the Northern Saskatchewan community of Meadow Lake. Cariou was one of three featured authors in Coming Attractions '95, and has had short stories appear in the collections Stag Line: Stories by Men, and Due West. As well, his fiction was awarded a CBC Literary Competition Prize in 1991. Currently, Cariou is working on a new novel, titled Exhaust.

Cariou also uses film to probe questions of indigenous human rights. Cariou’s films "Overburden" and "Land of Oil and Water" are both about the human rights of indigenous people who are facing environmental, economic and cultural devastation as a result of oil sands developments in northern Alberta and Saskatchewan. Cariou, with Dr. Neil McArthur, Associate Director of the Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics, and University of Manitoba students Katie Mann and Teddy Zegeye-Gebrehiwot, is currently working on a documentary film project which asks, "What are human rights?" The documentary is an interviewed based project which uses the symbolism of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights to pose the question of “what are human rights?” to visitors to the Forks.

In 2008, Cariou was awarded a Fulbright Visiting Chair Award.  Canada-U.S. Fulbright Visiting Research Chairs are awarded to prominent Canadian and American scholars who wish to conduct research, work with faculty and graduate students, offer guest lectures and teach while at select American and Canadian universities. Cariou undertook his studies at Arizona State University (ASU) from January to July 2009.  Among other things, he worked on his novel-in-progress, The Hummingbird Cloak. Also in 2008, Cariou was awarded a Canada Research Chair in Narrative, Community and Indigenous Cultures.

Cariou is also working on a SSHRC Research/Creation Project, "Re-Storying the Human Zoo", about the ways in which indigenous people in the Nineteenth Century were constructed in terms of natural history discourses, to such an extreme that they were sometimes displayed in zoos alongside animals.  This project is about the "animalization" of indigenous people, and the ways in which this ideology of animalization contributed to an erasure of their human rights.