Photo of Brenda Vellino

Brenda Vellino

Associate Professor of English, Afilliated faculty with Human Rights and Social Justice

Degrees:B.A. Honours (Evangel College); M.A. (Northeastern University); Ph.D. (Western)
Phone:613-520-2600 x 2321
Office:1815 Dunton Tower

Research Interests:

  • Indigenous – Settler Relations
  • Contemporary Indigenous Literatures and Cultures
  • Twentieth Century/Contemporary Poetry Studies (US, Canadian, Indigenous, Transnational)
  • Twentieth Century/Contemporary Theatre Studies (Canadian, Indigenous, Transnational)
  • Human Rights Humanities; Environmental Humanities
  • Gender, Sexuality, Critical Race, Decolonial Studies

Current Research Projects:

Indigenous Story Mapping and Territorial Rights and Responsibilities; Indigenous Counter-Genocidal and Resurgence Practices in Literary and Cultural Forms; Indigneous Women’s Honouring Projects for MMIWG2S; Contemporary Theatre and Grassroots Transitional Justice; Ecological Justice and Climate Change; Ecology and Literary Fieldwork

I am a cross-appointed faculty member in English and the Human Rights and Social Justice program in The Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies. I am also a member of CIRICLE, the Centre for Indigenous Research, Culture, Language, and Education. I welcome enquiries regarding supervisions in the human rights humanities, Indigenous cultural studies, transitional justice and cultural studies, contemporary poetry studies, and contemporary theatre studies.

Most of the first twenty years of my research and teaching career has focused on contemporary Canadian, US, Indigenous, and transnational poetry with publications on writers ranging from the modernist H.D. to Audre Lorde to Canadians Dorothy Livesay, Lillian Allen, Daphne Marlatt, and Dionne Brand. In the past seven years, my research and teaching interests have broadened to include contemporary theatre studies, particularly focused on transnational, Canadian, and Indigenous theatre. I consider both poetry and theatre to be a means of performative intervention into important conversations around social identities, human rights, citizenship, and ecological concerns. These priorities inform both my research and teaching.

Compelled by interests in feminist, critical race, and postcolonial/decolonial theory, I have been especially engaged in the emerging field of literature and human rights, publishing in several key volumes that have helped define the field: Teaching Human Rights in Literary and Cultural Studies (2015) and The Routledge Companion to Literature and Human Rights (2016).

After attending “Idle No More” teach-ins here on unceded Algonquin territory led by “Niigaan: In Conversation” in 2013 and being propelled by the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action, my most recent work engages with the pressing issues of addressing the injustices wrought by 150 years of settler colonialism and attending to Indigenous claims to land and territory- based, embodied sovereignty.


  • Carleton University Teaching Award, 2020
  • CURO Development Grant, 2013-2015
  • SSHRC 4A Grant, 2008-2009
  • SSHRC 4A Grant, 2006-2007

Professional Membership:

Indigenous Literary Studies Association, American Comparative Literature Association

Recent and Forthcoming Publications:

“Staging Marie Clements’s Counter-Genocidal Theatre Intervention Alongside the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ Final Report.” Global Indigenous Literatures and Human Rights. Forthcoming: Amherst College Press, 2022.

“Estuarian Poetics: Aqueous Eco-Buddhist Subjectivity in Daphne Marlatt’s Open Forms.” Selected Essays on Daphne Marlatt. Ed. Jason Wiens. Forthcoming: 2022.

“Territorial Relations Apprenticeship: Teaching Indigenous Popular Literary and Multi-Media Genres on unceded Algonquin Territory.” Studies in American Indian Literature: Forthcoming, 2022.

“Intervening in Settler Colonial Genocide: Restoring Métis Buffalo Kinship Memory in Amanda Strong’s ‘Four Faces of the Moon.’” Studies in American Indian Literature 32: 3-4 (2020): 149-75.

“`Re-Creation Stories’: Re-Presencing, Re-embodiment, and Repatriation Practices in Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s “How to Steal a Canoe.” Journal of Canadian Native Studies. 38.1 (2018): 129-52

“Restaging Indigenous – Settler Relations: Intercultural Theatre as Redress Rehearsal in Marie Clement’ and Rita Leistners The Edward Curtis Project.”Theatre Research in Canada. 38.1 (Spring 2017): 92-111.

“Beyond the Trauma Aesthetic: The Cultural Work of Human Rights Witness Poetries.” Routledge Companion to Literature and Human Rights. Ed Sophia McClennan and Alexandra Schulteis Moore. New York: Routledge, 2016.

“Cultivating Translocal Citizen Witness: Contemporary Human Rights Poetry as `Remembrance/Pedagogy.’” Options for Teaching: Human Rights and Literature. Eds. Alexandra Schulteis Moore and Elizabeth Goldberg. New York: MLA: 2015.

— With Sarah Waisvisz. “The Steveston Noh Project as Redress Theatre from Below.” Canadian Literature. Spring 2013.

—.With Sarah Waisvisz. “Yael Farber’s Molora and Colleen Wagner’s Monument as Post-Conflict Redress Theatre.” College Literature. 40.3 Summer 2013: 113-37.

“‘History’s Pulse Measured with Another Hand’: Precarity Archives and Translocal Citizen Witness in Dionne Brand’s Inventory.” University of Toronto Quarterly. 82.2 Spring 2013: 242-260.

Recent Papers:

“Repatriating Buffalo Kinship and Michif Intergenerational Memory in Amanda Strong’s Stop Motion Film, `Four Faces of the Moon.’” ISLA, UBC, Vancouver, BC, June 2019.

“Grassroots “Honouring Projects” and Indigenous Women’s `Right to Presence’: Embodied and Territorial Sovereignty in `The REDress Project.’” ILSA, First Nations University of Canada, Treaty 4 Territory, Regina, Saskatchewan, May 2018.

“Intimate Relations: Living Contextual Practices of “Intergenerational Memory” in Leanne Simpson’s `How to Steal a Canoe’.” Indigenous Literary Studies Assoc., Sto: lo First Nation Territory, Chiliwack, B.C., June 2017.

“Witnessing Alongside Indigenous Memorial Spaces and Ceremonial Practices.” CACLALS, U of Calgary, May 2016.

“Indigenous Women’s Rights in an Era of Settler Apology.” Human Rights Lit. Seminar, ACLA, Harvard, March 2016.

—with Steve McLeod. “Unsettled Solidarities”: Settler Learning Through a Practice of Place-Based Relationships” CALA, U of Calgary, May 2016.

“Literary Unveiling? Pashtun Women in Eliza Griswold’s Humanitarian Feminist Bildungsroman I Am The Beggar of This World.” Human Rights Lit. Seminar. ACLA Conference, Seattle, March 2015.

“Indigenous – Settler Theater Collaboration as Redress Rehearsal.” Canadian Association of Theatre Research, University of Ottawa, June 2015.

Graduate Courses

2019 Transnational Theatre

2015 The Modernist and Contemporary Long Poem 2013 The Contemporary Canadian Long Poem


HUMR 4907: Special Topic in Human Rights: Indigenous Human Rights through a Cultural Lens

ENGL 4961A: Indigenous Literatures II: Indigenous Restorying and Resurgence: Popular Genres and Performance Cultures


  • Hong Nguyen-Sears. Ph.D. Dissertation Co-Supervisor. Queer Games Studies. Ongoing.
  • Steve McLeod. Ph.D. Dissertation Supervisor. Resurgence and Storywork-Inspired Analyses of Representations of the Indigenous-non-Indigenous Relationship. 2019.
  • Sarah Waisvisz, Ph.D. Dissertation Committee Member. Dissident Diasporas: Genres of Maroon Witness in Anglophone and Caribbean Literature. 2014.
  • Rob Winger, Ph.D. Dissertation Co-Supervisor. John Thompson, Phyliss Webb and the Roots of the Free Verse Ghazal in Canada. 2009.
  • Chris Johnson, MRP, Canadian Poetry (Phyllis Webb), 2014
  • Danica Meridith, MRP, Canadian Fiction (Michael Redhill), 2013
  • Patricia Corrigan, MRP, Diasporic Long Poem (Dionne Brand), 2011
  • James Hanh, MRP, Canadian Long Poem (Stephen Scobie), 2011