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A history of Canada’s national game wins 2019 Canada Prize

A book on lacrosse takes the main prize in English, while a history of Indigenous peoples in American and European societies wins in French.


Allan Downey, Denys Delâge and Jean-Philippe Warren have won the 2019 Canada Prizes in the Humanities and Social Sciences, for their books, The Creator’s Game: Lacrosse, Identity and Indigenous Nationhood, and Le Piège de la liberté. Les peuples autochtones dans l’engrenage des régimes coloniaux. The Canada Prizes are awarded each year by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences in recognition of two scholarly books, one in English and one in French, that “make an exceptional contribution to scholarship, are engagingly written, and enrich the social, cultural and intellectual life of Canada.” Each of the 10 finalists received funding from the Awards to Scholarly Publications Program, or ASPP, administered by the Federation. The two winners will be honoured at a ceremony at the Congress for the Humanities and Social Sciences, held this year in Vancouver from June 1-7.

Read about the finalists in English below. See details on the French finalists here.

Click the arrow on the right to see the next nominee.

The Creator’s Game: Lacrosse, Identity, and Indigenous Nationhood (UBC Press, 364 pages)


By Allan Downey, Dakelh, Nak’azdli Whut’en, and an assistant professor in the department of history and classical studies at McGill University.

The Creator’s Game is about Indigenous identity formation and re-formation, as well as Indigenous and non-Indigenous relations through the game of lacrosse. Dr. Downey explores how the game was stripped of its cultural significance to construct a new identity for the nation state of Canada. Even though lacrosse became a tool for cultural appropriation, it was still being used by Indigenous people for multiple purposes; for example, to resist residential school experiences and initiate pan-Indigenous political mobilization. According to UBC press, The Creator’s Game provides “a unique view of Indigenous self-determination in the face of settler-colonialism.” The Canada Prizes jury says “this engagingly written book will have wide appeal and makes an important and valuable contribution to Canadian cultural history and social understanding in an era with hopes of reconciliation and better understanding.” 

Claire L'Heureux-Dubé: A Life (UBC Press, 768 pages)


By Constance B. Backhouse, distinguished university professor and a university research chair in the faculty of law at the University of Ottawa.

In Claire L'Heureux-Dubé: A Life, Ms. Backhouse extensively explores the changing gender norms within the primarily anglophone world of the Supreme Court. As the first Québécoise and the second woman appointed to the Supreme Court, Ms. L'Heureux-Dubé’s life in the male-dominated Quebec legal community provides window through which the reader comes to understand the Canadian judiciary, the creation of law, the Quebec sociolegal environment, and the nation’s top court.

Read UA's profile of Constance Backhouse, a pioneer in Canada's legal research community. 

Putting Trials on Trial: Sexual Assault and the Failure of the Legal System (McGill-Queen's University Press, 320 pages)


By Elaine Craig, associate professor in the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University.

In Putting Trials on Trial: Sexual Assault and the Failure of the Legal System, Elaine Craig explores how the legal system fails to convict perpetrators of sexual assault in Canada. Each year, less than one percent of sexual assault cases result in legal sanction for the offenders. Consequently, over 90 percent of sexual assault cases go unreported. Ms. Craig provides an evaluation of the legal culture and courtroom practices predominant in sexual assault prosecutions. She also offers an impartial narrative of the ways in which these practices contribute to the trauma and re-victimization experienced by those sexual assault complainants who testify.

Forgotten: Narratives of Age-Related Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease in Canada (McGill-Queen's University Press, 472 pages)


By Marlene Goldman, professor in the department of English at the University of Toronto.

In any given cultural setting, wherever it lies in time and space, information is passed down from generation to generation in the form of fiction and non-fiction. Marlene Goldman’s focus in Forgotten is to deconstruct long-standing societal misconceptions of age-related cognitive decline. She examines how these depictions have negatively legitimized myths that have turned Alzheimer’s disease and dementia into something monstrous. According to McGill-Queen’s University Press, Forgotten “asserts that the only crisis associated with Canada’s aging population is one of misunderstanding.” Dr. Goldman presents a thorough examination of the effects that have led to societal misunderstanding because of political and social influences. She uses the works of several authors and sources to buttress and spread the alternative narrative that takes on a person-centred perspective of aging and age-related dementia.

Give and Take: The Citizen-Taxpayer and the Rise of Canadian Democracy (UBC Press, 448 pages)


By Shirley Tillotson, Inglis Professor at the University of King’s College and a retired adjunct history professor at Dalhousie University.

According to Shirley Tillotson, taxes demonstrate the power of the state, and in Give and Take: The Citizen-Taxpayer and the Rise of Canadian Democracy, Dr. Tillotson examines the role taxes play in building democracy. Dr. Tillotson introduces her story with the 1917 war income tax and takes us through the vigorous tax fights of the interwar years, proceeds to the remaking of income taxation in the 1940s and onwards, and finishes by offering a fresh angle on the fierce conflicts surrounding tax reform in the 1960s.

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