Students win academic prizes in Canadian studies

Two students have won major academic prizes for their work in Canadian studies at York University.

York history student Catherine Timms of the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies won the Odessa Prize for 2013-14 for her essay, “Frederick G. Gardiner: An Exploration of High Modernism and the Metropolitan Toronto Council, 1953-1961.”

The Odessa Prize is given to the best essay completed by a fourth-year student on a topic related to the study of Canada. Consisting of a cash prize of $1,000, it was established through the generosity of York alumnus Irvin Studin, editor of What is a Canadian? Forty-Three Thought-Provoking Responses (McClelland & Stewart, 2006). The son of Russian-Jewish immigrants, the book is dedicated to his parents, who were from Odessa.

From left, Catherine Timms, Colin Coates and Irvin Studin

From left: Catherine Timms; Colin Coates, director of the Robarts Centre; and Irvin Studin, donor of the prize

The prize committee examined papers dealing with Canadian topics from the following undergraduate programs: English, Canadian studies, art history, political science, health studies, geography, anthropology and history.

This is what the adjudication committee said about the essay: “Timms bases her analysis on a range of primary sources, from newspapers to municipal reports; the committee was very impressed to see an undergraduate student undertake such extensive and effective archival work. In addition to exemplary primary research, the paper presents an articulate and persuasive narrative of key political events that occurred during the period of Gardiner’s influence, bringing into dialogue aesthetic criticism with political economy and urban politics in its powerful presentation of documents and debates.”

Her essay also won the Des Hart History Prize awarded by the Department of History. Timms is planning to continue her history studies at the MA level.

The second award, the Barbara Godard Prize for the Best Dissertation on the Study of Canada, was awarded to Monique Giroux (MA ’08, PhD ’13).

The Barbara Godard Prize recognizes a PhD candidate whose doctoral dissertation on a Canadian topic best advances the knowledge of Canada, transcends disciplinary boundaries, and demonstrates innovation in thought and/or methodology.

Monique Giroux

Monique Giroux

This cash award of $500 commemorates the late York Professor Barbara Godard, who made many contributions to the multidisciplinary understanding of Canada. Her many friends and colleagues have donated generously to establish this prize.

Giroux completed her dissertation, “Music, Power and Relations: Fiddling as a Meeting Place between Re-settlers and Indigenous Nations in Manitoba,” in the music program of the Faculty of Fine Arts in 2013.

The following is the prize committee’s citation: “With a sophisticated use of musicological, ethnographic and historical methodologies, Giroux paints a vivid and compelling picture of the complex cultural and political implications of historical and contemporary Métis fiddling in the context of “old-time fiddling” traditions. The dissertation is an important contribution to our understanding of Manitoba and Canada in general, or to use the name she prefers: Turtle Island. Giroux demonstrates how musical expression can serve as a lens to address issues of decolonization.

Giroux is currently teaching women’s and gender studies and native studies at the University of Manitoba.

Both prizes are awarded through the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies.

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