Monique and Max Nemni Win Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Young Trudeau

Former Glendon professor Monique Nemni and her York alumnus husband Max have been named winners of this year’s Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing, offered by the Writers’ Trust of Canada. They received this prestigious prize for volume one of their trilogy, an intellectual biography of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, entitled Young Trudeau: Son of Quebec, Father of Canada, 1919-1944 ( 2006).

As guest speakers at a presentation organized by the Glendon Research Group in Public and International Affairs (GRG-PIA), the Nemnis had recently visited Glendon to talk about their monumental work in progress. (See the Feb. 20 issue of YFile.)

Monique Nemni has a long-standing connection to Glendon, where she spent the first 10 years of her teaching career. It was there that she launched the Second Language Program and was its first director. She went on to teach at the University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM) for over 20 years as director of teachers’ education programs. Retired academic Max Nemni (BA ’68, MA ’69, PhD ’76, all in political science) is a specialist on nationalism and liberalism, with many publications to his credit on these topics.

In his will, Trudeau granted full access to his personal papers to only three individuals: the Nemnis and John English. English was also among the finalists for the Cohen prize, for volume one of his historical biography, Citizen of the World: the Life of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, 1919-1968 (2006).

The prize is an acknowledgement of the extensive research the Nemnis conducted into Trudeau’s work, as well as his huge collection of papers and memorabilia – their main source for the biography. Volume one reveals a Trudeau that very few had known. It provides the setting, in the Quebec of the 30s and the 40s, which formed him and his ideas as a young man, and follows his transformation from religious nationalist to sophisticated humanist.

Volume two is already in progress; it will cover the period of 1944 to 1965, leading up to Trudeau’s formal commitment to a career in politics. The third volume will explore his years as minister of justice and prime minister, and detail his activities until his death in Sept. 2000. 

This article was submitted to YFile by Glendon communications officer Marika Kemeny.