Coming of age for Indigenous identity

Indigenous authors among Canadian-history writers receiving regional, national and international honours.

Written by Phil Koch

Posted October 28, 2019

Books on lacrosse and growing up Cree in northern Alberta are among dozens of Canadian-history titles to be recognized by book prize juries so far this year, along with books about labour relations, taxes and efforts by women to gain the vote.

Allan Downey’s Creator’s Game: Lacrosse, Identity, and Indigenous Nationhood won the 2019 Canada Prize in the Humanities and Social Sciences, with the jury saying it “tells the fascinating story of Canada’s national game of lacrosse” and “makes an important and valuable contribution to Canadian cultural history and social understanding in an era with hopes of reconciliation and better understanding.”

Another finalist for that award, Shirley Tillotson’s Give and Take: The Citizen-Taxpayer and the Rise of Canadian Democracy, won the Canadian Historical Association’s 2019 Best Scholarly Book in Canadian History Prize.

The winner of the 2019 J.W. Dafoe Book Prize for the best book on Canada, Canadians, or Canada’s place in the world is Power, Politics and Principles: Mackenzie King and Labour, 1935–1948, by Taylor Hollander.

The jury called Hollander’s book “lively and substantial,” saying “it completes the portrait of Mackenzie King by showing his prime-ministerial mastery” in the area of labour relations.

Other shortlisted Canadian-history books were The Making of the October Crisis: Canada’s Long Nightmare of Terrorism at the Hands of the FLQ, by D’Arcy Jenish, and One Hundred Years of Struggle: The History of Women and the Vote in Canada, by Joan Sangster.

Meanwhile, the historical novel The Last Beothuk, by Gary Collins, was selected for the long list of the International Dublin Literary Award. And Darrel J. McLeod’s Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age, already the winner of the 2018 Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-fiction, was a finalist for the 2019 RBC Taylor Prize as well as for several other prizes.

Canadian history titles were well-represented at this year’s regional book prizes. Here’s a selection of other winners and finalists for regional awards:

BC and Yukon Book Prizes

Other book prizes in British Columbia

Alberta Book Publishing Awards

Saskatchewan Book Awards

Manitoba Book Awards

Ontario Historical Society Awards

Atlantic Book Awards

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