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SOURCE University of Regina Press
ST. CATHERINES, SK, May 27, 2014 /CNW/ - After revealing Sir John A. Macdonald's dirty secret-he starved Aboriginal people in order to settle the West and pave the way for the CPR-the very book that launched a devastating critique of his policies has won-ironically-the Sir John A. Macdonald Prize.
Six months before the 200th anniversary of Macdonald's birth, James Daschuk was awarded the history prize for Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal Life.
The book reveals that Canada's first prime minister withheld food during famine, forcing First Nations people onto reserves and out of the way for the railway and white settlement. Thousands died.
Now in its fourth printing, Clearing the Plains has achieved a rare feat for an academic title: it's a national bestseller. And MP Charlie Angus was so "blown away" by the book he was inspired to write a song (click here to listen) about it with his band, the Grievous Angels.
Along with winning the Canadian Historical Association's (CHA) top prize at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences held at Brock University, Clearing the Plains has won the Clio Award for Prairie History, the CHA Aboriginal History Book Prize, and five Saskatchewan Book Awards.
Named a book of the year by the Globe & Mail, it said Clearing the Plains "should make us question what it means to be Canadian." As we approach the 200th anniversary of Macdonald's birth, will these revelations about our first prime minister alter our perceptions of the man-and of ourselves?
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