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Rick Riewe was born on June 8, 1942 and attended high school in Detroit, Michigan. He later completed B.A. and M.A. degrees from Wayne State University, Michigan with a major in biology. Thereafter, he was admitted into the Department of Zoology at Memorial University of Newfoundland where he studied under Dr. William O. Pruitt. He continued his studies under Pruitt at the University of Manitoba and completed a Ph.D. in February 1971. Under Pruitt's tutelage Riewe developed photography skills that he used to document the wildlife, plants, landmarks, and infrastructure around him that he later developed into slides and used as examples when teaching. As a Professor of Zoology at the University of Manitoba since 1973, Riewe teaches Wildlife Management, Ecology, Resource Management, and Biology and acts as advisor to numerous masters and doctoral students. His fields of interest include wildlife management, impacts of industrial development upon Aboriginal hunters and trappers, traditional ecological knowledge, native land use, native land claims, and the domestic economy of northern people. He also acted as a Research Associate at the Circumpolar Institute, University of Alberta in the mid-1980s alongside his wife, Jill Oakes.
Since the early 1970s he has taught over one hundred field courses throughout Canada, the United States, and Europe dealing with circumpolar peoples’ culture and anthropology, boreal ecology, and arctic survival. His travels also took him to regions in Northern Canada where he did research on wildlife, Inuit hunters, and the environmental impact of oil exploration among other topics throughout the years. Besides these efforts he has also presented numerous guest lectures and media interviews and has held the position of Co-Editor for the Aboriginal Issues Press since 1994.
That same year he and his wife acted as Chairs of Northern Studies at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario where they gave a series of speeches on Aboriginal people of the circumpolar region regarding culture, economy, and ecology and led a winter field trip. Together with his wife he also curated a traveling exhibit, Inuit Annuraangit: Our Clothes from 1987-1994 that toured the Canadian prairies, Ontario and parts of northern Canada. Along with other academics and on his own, he has published about 100 articles, co-written well-known books with his wife like Our Boots: An Inuit Women’s Art that received Honorable Mention in a 1996 Museum Publications Design Competition and Spirit of Siberia: Traditional Native Life, Clothing, and Footwear for which they were nominated by the Smithsonian Institute for best museum publication of the year in 2000.