Last night in Ottawa, politicians, writers, and diplomats gathered at the Fairmont Château Laurier for one of the year's glitzy's and most-coveted social events: Politics & the Pen. A fundraiser for the venerable author-focused charity the Writers' Trust of Canada, P&P (as it's known in the capital) features the presentation of the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing (sponsored by CN).
The 2018 winner of the $25,000 prize was veteran Toronto Star journalist Tanya Talaga, whose powerhouse of a book, Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City, published by House of Anansi Press, has attracted non-stop honours since its publication, winning the RBC Taylor Prize and being nominated for the Weston Prize for Nonfiction and the BC National Award for Canadian Nonfiction previously. The book tells the story of seven Indigenous high school students who died in Thunder Bay, Ontario between 2000 and 2011, whose deaths had previously received little attention outside the area.
A jury composed of University of Victoria professor of Indigenous governance Taiaiake Alfred, former Shaughnessy Cohen Prize winner and University of Toronto professor Joseph Heath, and political journalist and commentator Kady O’Malley selected the winner. In their citation, they praised Talaga's "powerful book" for its examination of "the realities of Canadian racism, complicity, and Indigenous suffering," noting it is "also a testament to the resilience of the Anishinaabe families who endure the crushing impacts of historic and contemporary injustices."
Seven Fallen Feathers, they noted, is "s a crucial document of our times, and vital to the emergence of a true vision of justice in Canada."
The four nominees featured on the shortlist with Talaga, who will each receive $2,500 in recognition of their work, were:
- Christopher Dummitt for Unbuttoned: A History of Mackenzie King’s Secret Life, published by McGill-Queen’s University Press
- Carol Off for All We Leave Behind: A Reporter’s Journey into the Lives of Others, published by Random House Canada
- Sandra Perron for Out Standing in the Field: A Memoir by Canada’s First Female Infantry Officer, published by Cormorant Books
- Ted Rowe for Robert Bond: The Greatest Newfoundlander, published by Creative Book Publishing/Breakwater Books