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Leslie A. Robertson

Leslie A. Robertson

The Canadian Committee on Womens and Gender History English Language Book Prize


Leslie A. Robertson with Kwagu’? Gixsam Clan, Standing up with Ga’axsta’las: Jane Constance Cook and the Politics of Memory, Church, and Custom (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2012).

When women’s history emerged as a field in the 1970s, one of its original goals was to reclaim women from the shadows of history. It is fitting that the first CCWH book prize goes to a book that does this and so much more. Ga’axsta’las life story illustrates the vital, multidimensional, and sometimes seemingly contradictory roles that indigenous women played in politics at the community level, as well as in negotiations with the state, in the early twentieth century. Traditional historiographies have misinterpreted her support of the potlatch ban. Standing up with Ga’axsta’las explains how advocacy for women and children, as well as Christianity, informed her criticism of cultural practices that put women in vulnerable positions. The committee was impressed by the interdisciplinary methodology and the range of sources used to reconstruct her life. Robertson and the Kwagu’? Gixsam Clan have set a new standard for politically-engaged collaborative research.