High Prairie author Larry Loyie and two other co-authors launched a new book at the High Prairie Municipal Library Nov. 20.
The book, Residential Schools With the Words and Images of Survivors, is suitable for students as well as adults, and sure to be a terrific read and of great interest to the region.
The book contains plenty of Lesser Slave Lake region content from the Grouard and Joussard schools. The authors describe the book as "true and honest but uplifting as well."
The book is Loyie's ninth book. A national history, it took 21 years to research and three years to write. It also marks 73 years since Loyie entered St. Bernard Mission residential school in Grouard at the age of eight. The Cree author worked with co-authors Constance Brissenden and Wayne K. Spear [Mohawk] to complete the book.
"We wanted to write a readable history that shared many views of the schools," Loyie recalls. "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."
Seven chapters include the importance of culture, traditions, and families, life at school, the dark side of abuse, friendship and laughter, and the power of healing and education in a changing world.
Writing the new book was one of Loyie's biggest challenges. A lot of emotions surfaced, but he kept his goal in sight.
"I hope my book will 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."
More than 65 former students or family members from across Canada are quoted, all with their permission.
Former local students include Loyie, Pauline Belrose, and Lina Schott Gallup who attended St. Bernard Mission in Grouard. From St. Bruno Indian Residential School in Joussard, former students include Harold Cardinal, Mariella Cardinal Willier Okimaw, Francis A. Willier, Fred Francis Willier, Randy Badger, Donald Twin, and Dustin Twin. Cultural educator and Joussard resident Margaret Cardinal and her mother, Angelique McGilvrey, who both attended Blue Quills Indian Residential School in St. Paul, are also featured.
The full colour, hardcover book is visually impressive. Over 120 photographs play an important role. Many came from La SociÃ©tÃ© Historique et GÃ©nÃ©alogique de Smoky River in Donnelly. The society's archive is open to the public. Hundreds of residential school and northern history photographs are arranged in its easy-to-use binders.
The book is co-published by two respected Aboriginal resources, the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre at Algoma University and Indigenous Education Press-www.GoodMinds.com of Brantford, Ont.
Copies can be ordered by accessing the website www.goodminds.com. The book is also available at the Native Cultural Arts Museum in Grouard, Slave Lake Information Centre, Peace River Centennial Museum, Peace River Friendship Centre, and at Pegasus Books & Stationary in High Prairie.