2015 Finalist

Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing

for Slick Water: Fracking and One Insider’s Stand Against the World’s Most Powerful Industry

Jury Citation

“Jessica Ernst, an oil patch consultant, lived a quiet life in rural Alberta, until one day she realized she could light her tap water on fire. A major Canadian oil company had fracked hundreds of gas wells near her home, contaminating the village’s water supply. Told through the lens of his inspiring protagonist, Andrew Nikiforuk’s book explores the history of fracking, as well as the environmental and human toll that our society’s obsession with oil has wrought. Slick Water is an impressive piece of investigative journalism and storytelling.” – 2015 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing Jury (Tim Cook, Robyn Doolittle, and Antonia Maioni)

2013 Winner

Matt Cohen Award: In Celebration of a Writing Life

Selection Committee Citation

“Andrew Nikiforuk has been writing about key environmental issues for more than 20 years, since working as an editor at Equinox magazine in the 1980s. As a journalist and author of major investigative books, he cares deeply about accuracy, government accountability, and the cumulative impacts of policies that affect all citizens. He has won seven National Magazine Awards since 1989 and top honours for investigative writing from the Association of Canadian Journalists.

Nikiforuk has published several highly acclaimed and influential books. The dramatic Saboteurs: Wiebo Ludwig’s War Against Big Oil won the Governor General’s Award for Nonfiction in 2002. Pandemonium, about the impact of global trade on disease exchanges, received widespread national recognition. The Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of the Continent, which considers the global as well as the personal impact of the world’s largest energy project, was a national bestseller, won the 2009 Rachel Carson Environment Book Award, and was listed as a finalist for the Grantham Prize for Excellence in Reporting on the Environment. Nikiforuk’s Empire of the Beetle, a startling look at the mountain pine beetle infestation in Western Canada and its role as the world’s most powerful landscape changer, was nominated for the Governor General’s award for Nonfiction and the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing. And last year he published The Energy of Slaves, which was described by Maclean’s as ‘a profoundly moral case against the diminishing returns now offered by oil dependency.’”
— 2013 Matt Cohen Award Committee (Patsy Aldana, Graeme Gibson, Wayne Grady, and Don Oravec)

2011 Finalist

Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing

for Empire of the Beetle: How Human Folly and a Tiny Bug Are Killing North America’s Great Forests

Jury Citation

“More than two decades ago, a small bark beetle began a journey that has killed over 30 billion pine and spruce trees. It is not only nature that is playing a cruel trick. Andrew Nikiforuk brilliantly describes the multiple and cascading failures that have devastated North American forests. Bad logging practices, unsustainable fire prevention strategies that paid no attention to long-term consequences, science that was not up to scratch, and poor public policy all combined in a perfect storm to unmoor the bark beetle from its natural constraints. Nikiforuk, with exemplary simplicity and elegance, tells a cautionary tale that every Canadian should read.” – 2011 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing Jury (David Akin, Charlotte Gray, and Janice Gross Stein)


2009 Juror

Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing