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Shelagh Grant becomes first Canadian woman to win the Lionel Gelber Prize

Trent University professor Shelagh Grant has become the first Canadian woman to win the $15,000 Lionel Gelber Prize, awarded annually to an international non-fiction book “that seeks to deepen public debate on significant global issues.”

The Peterborough, Ontario, author won for her book Polar Imperative: A History of Arctic Sovereignty in North America (Douglas & McIntyre). The book examines historical and contemporary issues affecting the North, including sovereignty and global warming.

Jury chair Paul Cadario praised the book as “a comprehensive account of the interplay of politics, economics, institutions, and culture that few ever experienced first-hand. Other jury members were journalist David Frum; former World Bank chief of staff Rachel Lomax; CBC documentary programming executive director Mark Starowicz; and international relations specialist Steven Weber.

Two other Canadian entries made the shortlist: Yalta: The Price of Peace by Serhii Plokhy and Arrival City: The Final Migration and Our Next World by Doug Saunders. The Hungry World: America’s Cold War Battle Against Poverty in Asia by Nick Cullather and Why the West Rules “ For Now by Ian Morris round out the jurors’ picks.

Past Lionel Gelber recipients include Jay Taylor, who won last year for The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China and Michael Ignatieff, who received the 1994 prize for Blood and Belonging: Journeys Into the New Nationalism.

The prize is presented by the Lionel Gelber Foundation, in partnership with University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Foreign Policy magazine. Grant will accept the prize at a ceremony and lecture in Toronto on March 29.