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Professor Shelagh Grant's Arctic Justice Finalist for Scholarly Book Prize

The Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences has announced that Arctic Justice: On Trial for Murder, Pond Inlet 1923, by Trent University adjunct professor Shelagh Grant, is among the finalists for the 2003-2004 Scholarly Book Prizes .These four prizes are awarded to the best Federation-supported books published in the humanities and social sciences.

Professor Grant's book has been short-listed for the Raymond Klibansky Prize for best English-language book in the humanities. The prizes are named after the distinguished Canadian scholars Harold Adams Innis, Jean-Charles Falardeau, and Raymond Klibansky. The winners will be announced later this month.

Established in 1990, Scholarly Book Prizes recognize Canadian excellence in research and writing in the humanities and the social sciences, and acknowledge the significant contribution that Canadian scholarly books make to the advancement of knowledge.

For Arctic Justice, Professor Grant has also won the Canadian Historical Association's Clio Award for Northern History, which recognizes exceptional contributions to regional history. Following the award announcement in January 2004, CBC Radio's Ideas aired a special hour-long program titled Death in the Arctic, based on the book. The program is being rebroadcast on December 29.

Describing Arctic Justice as a "masterful, compelling and insightful work," the Clio Award citation states "where the book clearly stands apart from most other works of northern history is the author's extensive efforts to collect and use Inuit oral testimony in the reconstruction and explanation of the events and the cultural circumstances surrounding the killing and the subsequent trial. This is, in sum, a superb work of ethnohistory that capitalizes on the strengths of archival and oral documentation."

At the outset, it was Prof. Grant's intention to use the Inuit execution of an abusive white fur trader and the subsequent murder trial in the High Arctic as a framework upon which to examine how the introduction of law and order affected the Inuit of North Baffin. The result was Arctic Justice, a social history of contact relationships, set in the context of legal, political, and cultural themes of the times.

Prof. Grant began her academic career at the University of Western Ontario and Hospital for Sick Children, where she studied to become a nurse. After marriage, three children, and a move to Peterborough, she decided to revisit a longtime interest in Canadian history by enrolling at Trent University. Initially inspired by Prof. John Wadland's Canadian Studies 200 course and Prof. Bruce Hodgins' northern history course, she went on to complete a joint major in history and Canadian Studies, followed by a master's degree in history.

Prof. Grant continued her research in London, England and Washington, leading to the publication in 1988 of her first book, Sovereignty and Security: Government Policy in the Canadian North, 1939-1950, (UBC Press, 1988).

Meanwhile, from 1982 through to 1999, Prof. Grant taught at Trent University through a series of sessional appointments, eventually becoming an adjunct faculty member in both History and Canadian Studies departments. Throughout this period, she presented many scholarly papers at conferences in Canada and abroad (including Scotland, Russia, and Iceland) and was widely published in academic journals. In 1997, she received the Northern Science Award sponsored by the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs.

Prof. Grant is now semi-retired, but continues to guest lecture and supervise graduate students at Trent.

Posted November 10, 2004

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