University of Northern British Columbia History professor Mary-Ellen Kelm has received the 1999 John A Macdonald Prize for the book that makes the most significant contribution to Canadian history. Only one prize is awarded each year by the Canadian Historical Association.
Entitled Colonizing Bodies: Health and Healing in British Columbia, 1900-1950, the book considers early encounters between Euro-Canadian and Aboriginal people in British Columbia by examining matters of health and healing. According to the Canadian Historical Association, "Dr Kelm's study offers novel perspectives on a variety of questions" related to the provision of health services to First Nations communities. She found that aboriginal health was a significant site of struggle between the Canadian government and First Nations leadership and that First Nations people were able to maintain their own healing traditions despite government efforts to eradicate aboriginal medicine. Dr Kelm obtained information for the book from archival sources as well as from interviews with Carrier, Sto:lo, and Nisga'a elders. The book has also received a Clio Award for the best book in BC History.
Dr Kelm has taught courses on First Nations Health and Healing in the Nass Valley and in Prince Rupert. She also teaches courses on medical history, the history of the body, and the history of gender/sexuality, in addition to a Local History course in Barkerville every summer.