Residential Schools History Book Launched in Toronto

Residential Schools, With the Words and Images of Survivors, is a book documenting and honouring the history of the survivors and former students who attended residential schools. Designed for the young adult reader as well as the general reader, this accessible, 112-page history offers first-person perspectives of the residential school system in Canada, as it shares the memories of more than 70 survivors from across Canada, as well as 125 archival and contemporary images (65 black & white photographs, 51 colour photographs).

Res school cover-900


This essential volume, written by award-winning author Larry Loyie (Cree), a survivor of St. Bernard Mission residential school in Grouard, AB, and co-authored by Constance Brissenden and Wayne K. Spear (Mohawk), reflects the ongoing commitment of this team to express the truths about residential school experiences and to honour the survivors whose voices are shared in this book.

“We wanted to write a readable history that shared many views of the schools,” said Larry Loyie. “The biggest challenge was how to handle the material so that it could be read by all ages.

Residential school histories are usually written for adults. The book explains the schools for all readers no matter what their age or background.”

Along with the voices, readers will be engaged with the evocative, archival photographs provided by the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre (SRSC) with the assistance of curator Krista McCracken.

“Residential Schools reflects exceptional research and production quality,” said Jonathan Dewar, the Director of the SRSC. “Above all, it is a residential school history from an Aboriginal perspective, inspired by the personal experience of a Survivor dedicated to sharing this history with the world.”

The book begins with the moving introduction by Larry Loyie, and continues through seven chapters that explore the purpose of this school system; cultures and traditions; leaving home; life at school the half-day system; the dark side of the schools; friendship and laughter coping with a new life; changing world–the healing begins; and an afterword. A detailed, full colour map showing residential school locations across Canada, timeline with key dates, glossary, and a helpful index (including names of survivors and schools) make this vital resource a must-have for schools, libraries, and the general reader.

Author Larry Loyie wants this book to “show Canadians the strength and courage of the children who went to the schools. All former students share a kinship that is hard to explain to the world. I’ve tried to share it through the words and images in the book. I hope I’ve achieved this.”

Co-published by Indigenous Education Press and Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre, this publication was officially launched during the Ontario Library Association’s Superconference (OLA) in Toronto on January 29th and 30th, 2015. This new publication was released through official distributor during the event.

Jeff Burnham, president of GoodMinds called the launch successful in two ways. First, the book took over 20 years in the research phase and 3 years to write, and commemorates 73 years since Larry Loyie first attended St Bernard Mission residential school in Grouard, Alberta. Second, this publication celebrates the official debut of Indigenous Education Press. Burnham explains this new entity is not-for-profit and will fill the gap in the First Nations education market. All future releases will be distributed by the website.

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