Prof Wins Top B.C. Non-Fiction Award

February 25, 2014 - Campus Bulletin

Thomas King, professor emeritus in English at the University of Guelph, has won the $40,000 British Columbia National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction.

The award was announced at a ceremony in Vancouver on Friday afternoon. The award recognizes Canadian literary non-fiction and is one of the most prestigious prizes in Canadian literature. King’s book was selected from 140 submissions.

King, a writer and broadcaster and the first aboriginal Massey lecturer, was recognized for The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America.

He says he tapped into his own background — from his study and teaching of native history to his experience as a native affairs activist — to write the book.

“I know that people have generally very little bits and pieces of native history that they understand, but they really do not understand the arcs of native history,” he told CBC News.

“Whenever you go back into your past and look at the history that you’ve been part of, when you look at history that happened before you were born to the people you’re a part of, it hits spots that are fairly painful.”

King is one of Canada’s most well-known and respected authors. In 2004, he won the Trillium Book Award, Ontario’s premier prize for literary excellence, for The Truth About Stories, published from his Canada Massey Lectures. The lectures were presented in fall 2003 over nine days in five provinces. They were recorded and broadcast on the CBC Radio program Ideas.

He has been short-listed twice for the Governor General’s Award and has won the Canadian Authors’ Award for fiction and the American Indian Film Festival Best Screenplay award for Medicine River. He received the Aboriginal Media Arts Radio Award for Dead Dog Café Comedy Hour, a popular CBC Radio show he starred in and created. In January 2003, he received the National Aboriginal Achievement Award for arts and culture.

The Inconvenient Indian was also one of five books shortlisted from 124 nominees for the $25,000 RBC Taylor Prize, which recognizes outstanding Canadian non-fiction. The winner will be announced March 10.

King began teaching at U of G in 1995, after completing his PhD at the University of Utah.

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