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Reclaiming Tom Longboat - Indigenous Self-Determination in Canadian Sport

Reclaiming Tom Longboat

Indigenous Self-Determination in Canadian Sport

Paperback : 9780889777286, 264 pages, May 2020
Hardcover : 9780889777309, 256 pages, May 2020


  • Winner, North American Society for Sport History Book Award 2021
  • Winner, Indigenous History Award 2020


Reclaiming Tom Longboat recounts the history of Indigenous sport in Canada through the lens of the prestigious Tom Longboat Awards, shedding light on a significant yet overlooked aspect of Canadian policy and Crown-Indigenous relations. Drawing on a rich and varied set of oral and textual sources, including interviews with award recipients and Jan Eisenhardt, the creator of the Awards himself, Janice Forsyth critically assesses the state’s role in policing Indigenous bodies and identities through sport, from the assimilationist sporting regulations of residential schools to the present-day exclusion of Indigenous activities from mainstream sports. This work recognizes the role of sport as a tool for colonization in Canada, while also acknowledging its potential to become a tool for decolonization and self-determination.

“Through considering the Awards in the broader context of ongoing colonial relations in Canada, and bringing to light the voices of the recipients, this study extends well beyond the Tom Longboat Awards history to encompass the complicated place of sport in the Indigenous experience.” —Robert Kossuth, Associate Professor of Kinesiology and Physical Education, University of Lethbridge

“A fascinating account . . . in the ongoing struggle to decolonize Canadian institutions.” —J.R. Miller, author of Residential Schools and Reconciliation

Reclaiming Tom Longboat traces the long and arduous journey of sport from a tool of state-sponsored elimination of Indigenous values and culture to a means of empowerment, decolonization and self-determination. It sheds light on the predicament of both Indigenous communities and wider Canadian society as sport is untangled from its colonial history. Forsyth has taken sport seriously, making an important and necessary contribution to our understanding of both the past and the present.” —James Daschuk, author of Clearing the Plains

“There is nothing out there like this book—it is an original take, one that will make a difference.” —Nancy Bouchier, author of For the Love of the Game



Winner, 2021 North American Society for Sport History Book Award
Winner, 2020 Ontario Historical Society Indigenous History Award

Reclaiming Tom Longboat is an enlightening exploration of Canadian sport told through the lens of a national award, including a critical study of colonization through physical activity, all the while not discounting the self-determination of Indigenous peoples. As others have previously noted, Forsyth is a leader in the study of the Indigenous sport history of Canada, and this work should be the canon when discussing books on Indigenous athletics or any type of sport award.” —The Journal of Sport History

"This is essential reading for scholars, practitioners and activists in and beyond the lands claimed by Canada, provoking and challenging us to (re)think Indigeneity, sport, empire and coloniality." —

"Janice Forsyth delves into the history of Indigenous sport in Canada, exploring how it has been used as a tool of colonization, and its future potential in furthering Indigenous self-determination."—Canadian Geographic