Book exploring history of lacrosse & Indigenous nationhood wins $10K Canada Prize

Allan Downey's book The Creator's Game is described as one that makes 'a valuable contribution to Canadian cultural history.'
The Creator's Game is a nonfiction book by Allan Downey. (Canada Prize)

The Creator's Game: Lacrosse, Identity and Indigenous Nationhood by Allan Downey has won the 2019 Canada Prize, an annual $10,000 award given to the best scholarly book in the fields of humanities and social sciences.

Exploring the history of lacrosse in Canada beginning in the 1860s, Downey's book looks at how the sport was appropriated and stripped of its cultural value by non-Indigenous settlers and later reclaimed by the Indigenous communities who had been playing it for centuries.

"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," said the jury in a press release.

Downey, an associate history professor at McMaster University, is Dakelh from Nak'azdli Whut'en. The book previously won the 2018 CSN-REC Book Prize.

The $10,000 Prix du Canada en sciences humaines et sociales, the French version of the Canada Prize, went to La Piège de la Liberté by Quebec professors Denys Delâge and Philippe Warren. Their book explores Indigenous and non-Indigenous relations through the prism of freedom.

"At the time of first contact between their respective worlds, what were Indigenous peoples' and Europeans' relationships to subjection and emancipation? Following this premise, the authors draw from a wide range of physical and conceptual elements that present different universes of meaning, such as exchange, giving, debt, commerce, market, usufruct, sin and ownership," said the jury in a press release.

"The spotlight placed on the intersection of these two worlds has a double meaning as it shows how modernity is constructed by limiting the ways in which power and independence are expressed while broadening the reach of colonial power."

The Canada Prizes are administered by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences.


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