Canadian historians move to strip prime minister's name from prestigious book prize

Historians in the News
tags: Canada, indigenous people, Sir John A Macdonald

The main association of Canadian history scholars has joined the movement to stop celebrating Sir John A. Macdonald as a national hero with a proposal to strip his name from a prestigious prize.

In an email sent this week, Canadian Historical Association president Adele Perry advised members that the association’s elected council voted last month to rename the 40-year-old Sir John A. Macdonald prize the “CHA prize for Best Scholarly Book in Canadian History.” Association members will make a final decision next May at their annual meeting.

James Daschuk, a University of Regina historian and winner of the Sir John A. Macdonald prize in 2014, said the change would be overdue.

“It is incumbent on us as historians maybe to lead the way, to provide information for citizens and political leaders,” he said in an interview. He said he would be surprised if the change was not overwhelmingly approved.

His own prize-winning book, Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal Life, was an indictment of Macdonald’s treatment of Indigenous people.

“As a white scholar, I was able to take winning the prize in stride and just think of it as an ironic thing that my work, which exposed Macdonald’s inhumanity, won the Macdonald prize,” he said. “I can imagine a time when an Indigenous scholar wins the prize, and it’s going to be a slap in the face.” ...

Read entire article at National Post

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