Cree-Métis scholar Dr. Deanna Reder did not study Indigenous literatures as an undergraduate. At the time such courses did not exist at her university. Propelled by this lack, she began to read outside of the conventional canon, with a keen eye on texts written by Cree or Métis authors. By the time she began her doctoral work in 2001, the field began to shift and a generation of 21st Century Indigenous writers began to be published. However, she continued to be drawn to texts by Indigenous authors that were written in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, that were seemingly forgotten.
Hired in 2007 at Simon Fraser University she began by developing courses and curriculum for the Department of English and what is now the Department of Indigenous Studies, increasingly aware of the infrastructure that needed to be developed to establish Indigenous literary studies as separate from Postcolonial Studies and Canadian Literature. As a strategy to grow the field she served as Series Editor for the Indigenous Studies Series at Wilfrid Laurier University Press from 2010 to 2021. In 2014 she organized, with Dr. Linda Morra, a SSHRC-funded conference called “How Shall We Teach These?” that helped workshop two much-needed textbooks for the field: Learn, Teach, Challenge: Approaching Indigenous Literatures (edited by Reder and Morra and released by WLUP, 2016); and Read, Listen, Tell: Indigenous Stories from Turtle Island (edited by Sophie McCall, Reder, David Gaertner, and Gabrielle Hill and released by WLUP, 2017).
As a continuation of this work she joined with colleagues in the field in 2013 to establish the Indigenous Literary Studies Association (ILSA) (see indigenousliterarystudies.org). She subsequently went on to serve on the executive of the ILSA from 2016-2018, acting as President in 2017 when ILSA held its conference on Stó:lō territory. In 2020 she worked with a group of Indigenous editors to found the Indigenous Editors Association. (see www.indigenouseditorsassociation.com)
Reder served as Chair of the Department of Indigenous Studies from 2017 to 2022. She is currently on admin leave. She is continuing her research on the neglected Indigenous archive, as part of a project called "The People and the Text." See www.thepeopleandthetext.ca. Currently she is co-chair, with Dr. Sophie McCall, of the Indigenous Voices Awards. (see indigenousvoicesawards.org). In Fall 2018 she was inducted into the College of New Scholars, Artist, & Scientists in the Royal Society of Canada and in 2021 she received the Dr. Ambedkar Chetna Arts and Literature Award from the Chetna Association. In May 2022 her monograph, Autobiography as Indigenous Intellectual Tradition: Cree and Métis âcimisowina was released by Wilfrid Laurier University Press.
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