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“Toronto’s Poor” wins CAWLS prize

Toronto’s Poor: A Rebellious History by Bryan D. Palmer and Gaétan Héroux has won the Canadian Association for Work and Labour Studies Book Prize for the best book in work and labour studies.

Toronto’s Poor reveals the long and too often forgotten history of poor people’s resistance. It details how the homeless, the unemployed, and the destitute have struggled to survive and secure food and shelter in the wake of the many panics, downturns, recessions, and depressions that punctuate the years from the 1830s to the present.

Written by a historian of the working-class and a poor people’s activist, this is a rebellious book that links past and present in an almost two-hundred year story of struggle and resistance. It is about men, women, and children relegated to lives of desperation by an uncaring system, and how they have refused to be defeated. In that refusal, and in winning better conditions for themselves, Toronto’s poor create the possibility of a new kind of society, one ordered not by acquisition and individual advance, but by appreciations of collective rights and responsibilities.

“It is always gratifying to see research and writing that you have invested so much in rewarded with recognition. To have Toronto’s Poor awarded the CAWLS prize for the best book published in the area of work and labour studies is particularly gratifying. It will call much-needed attention to the long history of poverty and homelessness, bringing attention to economic crisis and the human costs that it entails. The resistance of poor people to the deplorable conditions they have faced over the course of almost two centuries is fundamental to understanding our past and addressing pressing concerns in our present, creating a better future,” said Bryan Palmer.

The Canadian Association for Work & Labour Studies (CAWLS) is an academic association for scholars interested in work, workers, and labour. Their mandate includes:

  • Fostering high quality, interdisciplinary labour studies research and teaching
  • Building labour studies networks and community for researchers and students
  • Recognizing and celebrating the best labour studies scholarship
  • Promoting labour studies in universities, colleges, communities, and the media

CAWLS is a member of the Canadian Federation for Humanities and Social Sciences.

Posted June 2nd, 2017

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