Goodbye Buffalo Bay Reviews

Goodbye Buffalo Bay


Profiles: Larry Loyie

The Power of Learning, International Adult Learners’ Week 2009
“Larry Loyie: Never Give Up Your Goals”
Content: Larry Loyie’s inspiring literacy journey

Legacy Magazine, Fall 2009
“Elder in demand for childhood stories” by Dianne Meili (p 54-57, Heritage to the Next Generation)
Content: The importance of relevant, first-person Aboriginal stories

Study Material: Goodbye Buffalo Bay
Canadian Teacher Magazine, November 2009, p 12-13
“Residential Schools, Resources for Teaching” by Larry Loyie
Content: Overview of the author’s residential school experience, the relevance of the history of residential schools to curriculum; Approaches for teachers — where to begin and in the classroom

Book Reviews: Goodbye Buffalo Bay

CanLit for Kids Books
, Winter 2008-2009

Excerpt: “This book draws on personal experience from a man (Larry Loyie) who found the courage and strength of character to find hope and fulfillment in life after residential school. Themes include friendship, self-esteem, humour, the joy of reading, overcoming anger, endurance, hope, and self-discovery. A wonderful read that is gently and succinctly told.”

CM: Canadian Review of Materials, January 2009
Highly Recommended. Reviewed by Tanya Boudreau.

Globe & Mail Review of Books, Saturday, June 6, 2009, p F11 by Susan Perren

“This memoir continues one begun in picture-book form. As Long as the Rivers Flow (Groundwood, 2002), written by Cree author Loyie with Brissenden and illustrated by Heather D. Holmlund, describes in words and pictures Loyie’s idyllic childhood near Slave Lake in northern Alberta in the 1940s. As that book ends, 10-year-old Larry and his sister and younger brothers are taken away from their family and sent to a residential school.

This memoir, a prose narrative, is Loyie’s story of his time at the St. Bernard residential school on Buffalo Bay, and of his re-entry to the world beyond the school when, his education finished but by no means complete, he is sent home, not quite 14. It is an account of institutionalized emotional and physical brutality meted out by priests and nuns. It would be utterly heartbreaking were it not for Larry’s resilience, his ability to survive the system, even overcome it, by learning how to stand up to the tyrannical – if not diabolical – Sister Denise, and how to find the best in the place in the form of the saintly Sister Theresa, whose time with Larry imparts in him a love of learning that will last for the rest of his life.

This memoir owes much of its power to its author’s candour, his openness about his feelings. The residential school’s aim was to beat its students into submission, literally and/or figuratively. It was a highly successful operation, in that sense, and one that left children deeply scarred.

Although Larry emerges seemingly unscathed, he describes incidents in which his ever-present, residual anger about his treatment, and the treatment of other children, threatens to overwhelm him. As this book ends, Larry is still a teenager, but one who has gained a measure of freedom from guilt and anger. We can only hope that there is more to come from this fine writer.”

Vancouver Sun
: Worlds to enter when school is out, July 25, 2009, p C6, by Sherie Posesorski (also published in the Ottawa Citizen)
Excerpt: “Time and again throughout his haunting memoir, Loyie captures a feeling, a scene through the deft use of reverberant detail and understated emotion. He is always true to the perspective, emotion and understanding of his adolescent self.

The bane of his existence was Sister Denise, a she-devil in a wimple. She called the boys savages and heathens and routinely beat them. The last straw for Loyie was witnessing her smash his cousin’s head against a cement floor, injuring him for life.
Loyie stood up to her and, for once, she backed down — a mixed triumph for him in this memoir illuminated by honesty and an awareness of his flaws and insecurities. He recounts how unnerved he was by the ferocity of his anger.

Loyie was sustained by the joys he could find — in friendship with other boys, his love of reading and the kindness and support of staff like Sister Theresa, who encouraged him to learn and to write.

During his years at school, his mother died. When his uncle failed to recognize him on the street, he regarded that as proof the school had rendered him an invisible man.
Gradually, with the good parenting of his father and grandparents, he regained his Cree identity. A sense of confidence and accomplishment came from his jobs fighting forest fires and working at a sawmill and on a farm.

His grandfather kept reassuring him that “the life you loved will come back one day. You will find a way to make it happen.”

He did, and does once again for readers.”

(December 2009 by Marjorie Coughlan)

Excerpt: “The true story of author Larry Loyie’s last year at a compulsory residential school for First Nations children in Canada, and the early period of his adjustment to his “return to the world outside”, Goodbye Buffalo Bay takes the reader on an emotional roller-coaster of a ride. The skilfully told story evokes anger, tears, laughter and pride – while never descending to sentimentality or sensationalism. .. Goodbye Buffalo Bay is an immensely readable book… Many readers will be moved to tears, as well as to feelings of outrage at this episode in a nation’s barbaric attempt to divorce indigenous children from their culture. However, that is only half the story. Ultimately, as Lawrence emerges from that harsh environment to re-establish his roots and to prove himself equal to his ambitions for the future, Goodbye Buffalo Bay engenders hope and optimism. This is a riveting book, not to be missed!”

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