Monthly Archives: January 2012

Residential school history study material

The new year 2012 brings a new look to our website. One addition is a new page on the site, simply called: Residential School. The material will help teachers, students and others who want to learn more about this hidden history. We do so to honour the 150,000 and more Aboriginal children who went to residential school in Canada.

We (Larry Loyie and Constance Brissenden) have spent the past 20 years doing research on residential school. Larry is a survivor of residential school. From his true experiences, he wrote a play (see Two Plays about Residential School below), a “memoir for four voices” called The Healing, and two well-known books As Long as the Rivers Flow and Goodbye Buffalo Bay to introduce the subject. We have also written many articles and overviews. We will collect these and add them (and new material) to the Residential School page.

Larry Loyie’s first book As Long as the Rivers Flow (Groundwood, 2002) was one of the first books on the subject of residential school. Celebrating its 10th year in print, this illustrated chapter book is the true story of Larry’s last traditional summer with his family before being forced to go to residential school. An epilogue in As Long as the Rivers Flow provides an overview of residential school. Heather D. Holmlund of Pickering, ON, created the beautiful watercolour illustrations for this award-winning book.

As Long as the Rivers Flow is now taught in schools across Canada to introduce the subject of residential school. A highlight of the story is grandmother Kokom Bella’s adventure with the biggest grizzly bear in North America. Readers of all ages cherish this exciting, thoughtful, moving book.



The sequel to As long as the Rivers Flow is Larry Loyie’s Goodbye Buffalo Bay (Theytus, 2008). Larry Loyie’s first youth chapter book tells the story of his last year in residential school  and moving on at age 13 as a young worker.

Goodbye Buffalo Bay has been welcomed as a sensitive, dramatic and humorous survivor’s story. Themes such as self-discovery and fulfilling one’s dreams for the future make this a positive, uplifting book to read and study for all age groups from 10 years and up. It is reader-friendly for adult readers. An epilogue outlines the history of residential school.





Larry Loyie’s play Ora Pro Nobis, Pray for Us written in the mid-1990s and published in 1998 by Living Traditions Writers Group in Two Plays About Residential School is still in demand for its residential school content. We plan to add the text to our site (as the book is now out of print).

The book includes Vera Manuel‘s residential school play The Strength of Indian Women, written from the women’s point of view. We will add information on how to access Vera Manuel’s play which has been re-published in an anthology of Aboriginal women playwrights.




Larry Loyie’s 5th Book Available in 2012

Greetings from Larry Loyie and Constance Brissenden for 2012. We want to introduce our next book, The Moon Speaks Cree, A Winter Adventure from Theytus and share highlights of 2011.


The New Year 2012 will see The Moon Speak Cree, A Winter Adventure, a new book from Larry Loyie with Constance Brissenden, published by Theytus (summer 2012).

We are tremendously excited about the new book. It is a combination of a chapter book and an illustrated children’s book. Illustrator Heather D. Holmlund, who did the artwork for Larry Loyie’s award-winning book As Long as the Rivers Flow (Groundwood) and his ground breaking HIV awareness title The Gathering Tree (Theytus), is illustrating The Moon Speaks Cree. We are thrilled to be working with Heather again.

Here’s a summary:

The Moon Speaks Cree, A Winter Adventure (Theytus, 2012) by Larry Loyie with Constance Brissenden. Illustrated by Heather D. Holmlund. Winter is Lawrence’s favorite season shared with his two sisters and filled with the fun of outdoor adventures. He rides his father’s long toboggan pulled by four eager dogs, invents a sliding machine that really works from his grandfather’s old steamer trunk, reconnects with his older brother and learns the secrets of winter survival from his parents and grandparents. Based on Larry Loyie’s traditional Cree childhood, the story teaches deeper lessons: respect for culture and history, the effect of change on Aboriginal people and the importance of being good to animals. 68 pages, grade 3 and up.

Larry Loyie at the log house

Larry Loyie at the log house

Larry Loyie at the log house in Alberta, a great place to write books.


Being an author is exciting and fun. Here are some highlights from 2011.

School Visits in 2011

Larry and Constance gave more than 50 school and library talks and writing workshops in 2011. We visited Quesnel, Bella Coola, Hagensborg and Abbotsford, BC; Medicine Hat, Carstairs, High Prairie, Edmonton, Wabasca, Alberta; and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

We truly enjoyed the grade 3-4 theatrical presentation of As Long as the Rivers Flowat St. Andrew’s School in High Prairie, AB. Here’s a scene from their classroom play, with creative props.

We drove to Bella Coola, BC, in April 2011, on the notorious “hill” (don’t let “hill” fool you, it is a MOUNTAIN), a place we wanted to visit for decades. The schools and students were great… we had so much fun visiting the classrooms and also gave a public reading.

Larry Loyie

Larry Loyie

This is Acwsalcta School in Bella Coola. Such a great school teaching pride in Nuxalk culture.






Larry Loyie

Larry Loyie

Larry Loyie in residential school, first altar boy from left.

. Goodbye Buffalo Bay (Theytus) is Larry Loyie’s much-praised chapter book about his last year at St. Bernard Mission residential school and moving on as a youth worker in the 1940s. The dramatic yet often hilarious book has opened doors for readers of all ages and abilities. Schools are now specifically asking for Larry to speak about his experiences. A residential school survivor, he gives a first-person account with honesty and sensitivity. As a primary source on the residential school experience, Larry is committed to visiting schools and sharing his story.

French cover of As Long As The River Flows

French cover of As Long As The River Flows

Translated as Tant Que Couleront Les Rivieres, Larry Loyie’s book As Long as the Rivers Flow (Groundwood) was published in French by Les Editions des Plaines in Saint-Boniface, Manitoba. Here’s the link for this beautiful translation, a first for the books of Larry Loyie.

. As Long as the Rivers Flow by Larry Loyie was voted one of 25 for 25: The Best Books of Our Time in the Peace Library System. This contest was held in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Peace Library System. As Long as the Rivers Flow placed 16th on the list, before the Twilight series (#17)!

. A model teaching unit on As Long as the Rivers Flow is available on line from the Montana Office of Public Education, Language Arts – Grades 4-8.

When the Spirits Dance (Theytus) is a war story that opens dialogue for students on the meaning of war. During the Second World War, young Lawrence faces many challenges while his father is overseas, including the threat of army runaways. This book is an exceptional choice for today’s students to discuss how war affects them. They also share in the day-to-day adventures of a traditional Cree family.

Please stay in touch…

We look forward to your calls, emails and student writings in 2012. We closed out the year with a SKYPE visit with students in Saskatchewan. This may be a great way to visit some classrooms.

Here’s a final photo from a school in Medicine Hat. To all the students we met in 2011, thanks for the great questions!

Larry and Constance in Medicine Hat(October 2011) on a school tour with the Young Alberta Book Society.

Larry and Constance in Medicine Hat(October 2011) on a school tour with the Young Alberta Book Society.

Larry Loyie is booking 2012 author visits / school tours

Award-winning Cree author Larry Loyie and his touring partner Constance Brissenden are now booking school visits, talks, writing workshops and so on for 2012.

Larry’s new book The Moon Speaks Cree, A Winter Adventure (Theytus) will be available in August 2012. The illustrations by Heather D. Holmlund combined with Larry Loyie’s beautiful text promise to make this a must-have illustrated family-reading book.

Being a children’s book author has many perks … from meeting wonderful students of all ages to travelling to new (sometimes remote) and beautiful places. The photo here was taken in Jasper on the way back from Bella Coola and Quesnel, BC.

In 2011, Larry Loyie and Constance Brissenden gave more than 50 presentations in Alberta, Austin (Texas), Saskatoon and British Columbia. Some of out visits were partially funded by the Young Alberta Book Society. Thank you YABS as well as the teachers and librarians who organized these visits. On this subject (because we are often asked), we charge $350 per half day and $700 per full day. We may require travel funding. We keep our travel expenses down and try to combine schools to make the visits cost-effective for all concerned. The price of gas is the biggest challege to touring these days.

Schools in Quesnel, Bella Coola and Hagensborg gave us the chance to talk about Larry Loyie’s traditional Cree childhood, explain “what was residential school,” share his residential school experience (six years in St Bernard Mission residential school, Grouard, Alberta) as introduced in As Long as the Rivers Flow and its sequel Goodbye Buffalo Bay, explain how war affected his family (in When the Spirits Dance, opening conversations on war and its effect today), some discussion of The Gathering Tree (HIV awareness and prevention), and give several writing workshops / classes (grades 2, 3-4, 6-7s, adult learners).

We were also privileged to give a public reading at Acwsalcta School in Bella Coola (thank you Beth Jay, Librarian), and teach a writing workshop at the Li’phaylch Learning Centre, Bella Coola (we really enjoyed the students’ works here).

Subjects: When Larry and Constance tour, they can talk about the following subjects:

— Larry Loyie’s new book The Moon Speaks Cree, A Winter Adventure (Theytus) — what it was like to live a traditional Aboriginal childhood; the rhythms of Aboriginal seasons; how children learned; the importance of being good to animals (in the story, toboggan dogs); sibling dynamics; the emotional influence of family history on children; childhood adventures and using the imagination.
— Another subject is “what was residential school.” Larry Loyie is a balanced speaker who gives a true, compassionate overview of the residential experience as a residential school suvivor. It is difficult to get an accurate accounting from anyone who did not go to residential school. The talk includes images to bring the subject of residential school to visual life. Larry Loyie is a survivor of six years of residential school, has written two books and a play on the subject, and has given dozens of talks on the subject in school classrooms (with Constance Brissenden).
— Other subjects include the effects of war, HIV awareness and prevention, what it is like bring an author and writing books, Aboriginal publishing. Larry and Constance can adapt their talks to school curriculum.
— writing workshops are also possible
Your friends, Larry and Constance