An examination of the impacts of colonization on the Mi’kmaq of Atlantic Canada has won the Governor General’s History Award for Scholarly Research: The Sir John A. Macdonald Prize for best history book.
Written by William C. Wicken, a history professor at York University, The Colonization of Mi’kmaw Memory and History, 1794–1928: The King v. Gabriel Sylliboy is a “finely crafted and tightly argued study of memory and meaning,” judges said, “written in a style that is spare and clean, makes imaginative use of a wide range of existing sources to answer innovative epistemological questions fundamental to the historical project.”
Working backward in time from the Gabriel Sylliboy court case of 1928, the book uncovers how successive generations of Mi’kmaq remembered a treaty signed in the eighteenth century. Such questions about the relationship between memory and aboriginal rights makes The Colonization of Mi’kmaw Memory and History a book that advances a challenging argument about an important subject in Canadian history.
Video interview with William Wicken, courtesy of the Communications Department, Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies, York University. Produced and Directed by Mark Terry. Edited by Carl Kocur. The video is also available on the York University YouTube Channel: YorkUniverse.
Shelley A. M. Gavigan, Hunger, Horses, and Government Men: Criminal Law on the Aboriginal Plains, 1870-1905. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2012.
Bridging the fields of law and history, and documenting the complex relationship between Plains First Nations and Canadian criminal law, Hunger, Horses, and Government Men: Criminal Law on the Aboriginal Plains, 1870-1905 engages with a vast current of recent criminal justice history that attempts to balance control/domination and agency. Based substantially on data derived from two sets of criminal court records from 1876-86 and 1887-1903, the book explores what law meant to Aboriginal people at a time of increasingly coercive colonization. In attempting to understand the “actual process of criminalization,” Gavigan makes an important contribution to both Canadian legal history and prairies history.
Reg Whitaker, Gregory S. Kealey and Andrew Parnaby, Secret Service: Political Policing in Canada from the Fenians to Fortress America. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012.
This book promises to be the definitive work on the history of intelligence and security in Canada for some time to come. Analytic, yes, but also lively, it clearly illustrates that for most of its history, the Canadian secret services did not spy abroad but at home. They were obsessed with “subversives” who could disrupt the Canadian status quo. Despite the obvious difficulties in accessing the material, this is a thoroughly well documented book, elegantly written, and remarkably balanced, considering the sensitivity of the topic, and the fact that one of the authors had himself been a target of surveillance.