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Jurors’ Comments on Book Prize Shortlist

June 12, 2024 / Ariel Gordon / Book Prize

As part of the celebrations of the 40th anniversary of the J.W. Dafoe Book Prize, the 2024  jury selected a ten book longlist, a five book shortlist, and a winner, announced June 10.

The members of the 2024 J.W. Dafoe Book Prize — Dr. Dale Barbour, Dr. Gregory Mason, and Dr. Catherine Cook — selected John Vaillant’s Fire Weather: The Making of A Beast, but they also wanted to commend the shortlisted titles.

Plundering the North

“This book provides a critical look at the process of food and staple acquisition in the north, based on colonial trading mechanisms that undermined traditional access to food and the recognized value of that food. The resulting model provided restrictive access with high cost – financially, socially and nutritionally — and limited choice for healthy foods.”

— Kristin Burnett and Travis Hay’s Plundering the North: A History of Settler Colonialism, Corporate Welfare, and Food Insecurity.

Read more about the book here.
Read the author Q&A here.

Searching for Franklin

“This captivating book, recasts an oft-told tale but in a new light. The search for Franklin’s grave has gripped historians and the public for decades but McGoogan presents a fresh view of the mystery of his disappearance. Searching for Franklin reveals the lethal hubris of an English Navy man who killed hundreds of people, ignored the advice of Indigenous locals, and enjoyed the posthumous status of a hero. The book also masterfully situates Franklin’s last journeys against a lifetime of colonial work.”

— Ken McGoogan’s Searching for Franklin: New Answers to the Great Arctic Mystery

Read more about the book here.
Read the author Q&A here.

Seeking Social Democracy

“This is deft and timely book, describing the goals and passions of an important figure in Canadian politics while also documenting the evolution of the political left. The book’s structure is unusual, with interviews and recollections of notable social democrats occupying much of the memoir. This is an interesting and effective way to reveal the political philosophy of Ed Broadbent and creates an effective counterpoint to the more conventional biography of a ‘great man.’”

—Ed Broadbent with Frances Abele, Jonathan Sas and Luke Savage’s Seeking Social Democracy: Seven Decades in the Fight for Equality

Read more about the book here.
Read the author Q&A here.

Reclaiming Anishinaabe Law

“Reclaiming Anishinaabe Law is a thorough analysis of the intent of treaties, the legislation and policy specific to Indigenous people in Canada, and the resultant ambiguity of treaty rights specific to education. The intent of treaties, as reflected by participants to the negotiations, was to establish a nurturing and supportive environment for First Nations. This was immediately revoked by the passing of the Indian Act, which stripped away all freedoms and controls for the First Nations. Baskatawang argues that Indigenous sovereignty over education is essential for reconciliation.”

— Leo Baskatawang’s Reclaiming Anishinaabe Law: Kinamaadiwin Inaakonigewin and the Treaty Right to Education

Read more about the book here.
Read the author Q&A here.

Finally, we are hoping to bring 2024 winner John Vaillant to Winnipeg for a reading and celebration this fall, so you can look forward to more news on that front in the coming months.

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