Category Archives: Books

Posts on books I or others have written. This category includes book reviews, promotions and downloads.

An iBook, Now in its 2nd Edition! “Residential Schools: With the Words and Images of Survivors”

In 2016, Residential Schools: With the Words and Images of Survivors won the Golden Oak Award. Now in its 2nd Edition, this comprehensive history of Canada’s Indian Residential School System is also available on iTunes  as a deluxe Apple iBook. The electronic version features audio and video enhancements, as well as other additional material. The full colour, hardcover version can be ordered from the publisher here.


Here is what readers are saying:

“A respectful and informative book about the residential school system written by Aboriginal author Larry Loyie. It includes first hand accounts of many different survivors of the school system as well as photos and documents. This is a heartbreaking, but very important read as it includes the long term effects the school system has had on these families.”

“This is an excellent introduction to the history of the Indian Residential School System in Canada. I truely hope it finds it’s way into every school and church library. The authors compile personal stories, many photographs, and history in a well sequenced telling of the tragic history of relations between First Nations peoples and colonial Canada.”

“Researched and written over the span of almost two decades, the authors document the history of residential schools with first-person interviews (including that of author Larry Loyie) and photographs. It is written in a very accessible way for readers from teens to adults, and should serve as an important introduction to this blight on Canada’s history.”

“Absolutely wonderful overview of Canada’s residential schools, with firsthand accounts and pictures from survivors. Especially loved the “myths” section at the back of the book 🙂 Bravo to the survivors and authors brave enough to share their story.”

“Very comprehensive summary of Residential Schools and their legacy. Great visuals and witness accounts.”


The Ottawa Book Awards and new work from Chelsea Vowel


I’ve been working away these past months at the 2016 Ottawa Book Awards reading list. One of three jurors in the non-fiction category, I drew up my list of finalists this past week, along with my colleagues. I’m pleased to say there was consensus on three of our top five selections. Early in June, I expect, we’ll sort matters out.

There’s an opportunity cost to a commitment of this scale. I agreed to read 21 books in about as many weeks, some of them rather hefty and dense. That’s a lot of hours I could have been doing many other things, but I did enjoy the labour and along the way discovered some books I might not have found otherwise.

Now I have a smallish library of book award books I will be passing along. Only a couple weeks ago I (once again) thinned out the over-flowing shelves, and I’ve no desire to go backwards. Already I have specific books in mind for specific people. And I wish I could tell you what I’ve read and what I thought about it, but until the requisite announcements have been made, I’m keeping my reading list and my thoughts private.

In the meantime, here’s a book I’m looking forward to reading, to recommending, and to giving away. It’s by Chelsea Vowel, more widely known by the name âpihtawikosisân. The book will be released in September but is available now for pre-order.


Residential Schools: now an ebook

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Good news today. Residential Schools, With the Words and Images of Survivors will soon be available as an electronic book, suitable for your Kindle, Nook, iPad, laptop, or smartphone.

Read the ebook on the bus. Or the subway. Or wherever. It’s just like the print book, but better:

  • 76 pages longer
  • enhanced with video and audio
  • additional, high-res images
  • reproduction of the 1932 Coqualeetza Indian Residential School commencement program
  • … and more

Residential Schools is a unique work. Why do I say this?

It’s comprehensive. The book begins with a look at life before the residential schools.

It’s accessible. You can give it to anyone: a grade five student, a new Canadian, a Survivor, a teacher. Everyone will find something of value in this book.

It’s written in simple, clear, and unadorned English. I have been writing about residential schools for over 20 years, and so have my co-authors Larry Loyie and Constance Brissenden. We worked very hard to get the tone and detail just right.

Decades of learning how to speak to Canadians of all ages about residential schools have gone into this book.

Larry Loyie is himself a survivor. He and his partner Constance have visited dozens of schools over the years, to talk to the young about his life in an Indian residential school.

For almost fifteen years, I worked for an agency called the Aboriginal Healing Foundation. When I started, in 1999, few Canadians had even heard of Indian residential schools. It was my job to change that.

It’s not just another archive-based book. Yes, I have done a ton of archival research. But for this book I wanted something different, and so did my co-authors. Residential Schools contains not just the words of former students, but images and objects.

There are things in this book you will not see in any other residential school book, like photos taken in the schools by the children themselves. That alone makes this book special.

When you put all of this together—the engaging tone, the comprehensiveness, the decades of research, the contributions of Survivors, the unique images—you have a book like no other.

My vision for this book has always been that it will one day be in every library and every classroom. I believe that this book is one of the best resources available to educate today’s young people about the Indian Residential School System.

Residential Schools is a Finalist for the 2015 Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction and a 2016 Nominee for the Golden Oak award in Ontario’s Forest of Reading program.

Both the print and digital version of the book are published by GoodMinds, in Brantford, Ontario. You’ll find the print version in many bookstores.

You can also order the book from the publisher’s website: — for ordering information
Tel: 1 877 862 8483
Also: Jeff Burnham, publisher, Indigenous Education Press /
Tel: 519 761 0366

GoodMinds specializes in wholesale supply to educational institutions. But you can also order books as an individual, by credit card.

Jeff Burnham is a bit old school. The best way to order is to phone toll-free. Jeff, or one of his team, will take all the info and fill your order promptly.

eBook Download: Reconciliation & the Way Forward

Reconciliation and the Way Forward

LAST WEEK in Ottawa I had the pleasure of launching the book Reconciliation & the Way Forward with my friends Shelagh Rogers, Glen Lowry, Sara Fryer and Mike DeGagné. I contributed an essay (“Time to Get Our Indian Act Together for First Nations Students”) that was previously published at the National Post. Click on the image above to download a 4.2Mb PDF version of the book.

Residential Schools: reviewers recommend my latest book

Goodminds, IEP

Above, l. to r., authors Wayne K. Spear, Constance Brissenden, and Larry Loyie, and Jeff Burnham, President, GoodMinds & Indigenous Education Press

Lovely reviews are arriving daily of my latest book, Residential Schools, co-authored with Larry Loyie and editor Constance Brissenden.

Here’s an excerpt from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre Winter 2015 edition of Book News (page 38). The author of this review is Karri Yano, a Toronto writer and editor.

The material presented is a balance of historical facts and personal experiences. While thorough in its overview—timeline, politics behind the events (racist attitudes in society and politics)—it is not explicit in the details of the neglect and abuse, but specific facts and personal testimonies reveal the deplorable conditions the children who were taken away and living far from any family support had to endure while also demonstrating the incredible resilience of the survivors and what they did to cope.

The book is suitable / appropriate for student 12 and up as a resource for one period of Canadian history that reveals the struggles of Aboriginal people to self-identify and their fight for equal rights and survival as a culture in Canada.

Residential Schools: with the Words and Images of Survivors—a National History | Released in 2014
“Residential Schools: with the Words and Images of Survivors—a National History”

The book has been featured recently in the Edmonton Journal and Brantford Expositor. Paula Kirman, writing for, says “Residential Schools is an excellent introduction to this tragic subject, and will certainly have a place in classrooms around the province.”

You can order the book by phone from my Brantford, Ontario publisher, Goodminds, 1 (877) 862-8483 or email


Full Circle: the Aboriginal Healing Foundation & the Unfinished Work of Hope, Healing & Reconciliation

An excerpt from my book Full Circle: the Aboriginal Healing Foundation & the Unfinished Work of Hope, Healing & Reconciliation, Chapter 3, “Long-Term Visions & Short-Term Politics.”


THE MANDATE of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation was conceived as two related components: healing and reconciliation. As a funding agency, the AHF supported these with money and community support workers and other clerical services. Another large part of the Foundation’s work and legacy subsisted in its research agenda, which by 2010 had produced 20 studies all focused upon the Indian Residential School System and its current-day manifestations. The research was meant to advance one objective above all others: healing. The topics explored were enormously complex and included fetal alcohol syndrome, incarceration, domestic violence, sexual offenses and addiction. Behind the complex subjects however were practical questions: what relationship does the Indian Residential School System have to the realities of current-day life? Is there an underlying and perhaps even unifying agent which may account for the many apparent diverse forms of physical and emotional turmoil we can discern in indigenous communities? When communities undertake to solve their problems for themselves, what works, and why? Such were the sort of concrete prospects to which the research agenda was directed.

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Subscribe and Win!


GREETINGS, friends and comrades! To celebrate the release of the 20th Anniversary Edition of Real Things Real People Are Really Doing, this Wednesday at noon I’ll be drawing two names at random from among my monthly newsletter subscribers. Each of these two winners will receive a signed copy of the 1st Edition Real Things Real People Are Really Doing, as well as my latest book Full Circle: The Aboriginal Healing Foundation & The Unfinished Work of Hope, Healing & Reconciliation.

The 20th Anniversary Edition of Real Things Real People Are Really Doing will be available Wednesday at 8 a.m. as a download at Included will be a 2014 introduction and a new, hitherto unpublished story called “Consummatum Est.” Click on the button below to subscribe. I’ll contact the winners on Friday to get a mailing address. Every subscriber will receive my monthly newsletter, special book deals, my unyielding gratitude—and maybe even some free books!


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RTRPARD at 20: Yes, I have a book that’s old enough to buy booze

Real Things Cover

LATER THIS MONTH, I’ll be releasing a special 20th anniversary edition of my 1994 hit collection of stories entitled Real Things Real People Are Really Doing. Available as a download at—for a limited time only!—this 20th anniversary edition will include a new story and my reflections on the making of RTRPARD. What a time it was. My only regret is that my book can’t actually drink beer. Look for it July 30, 2014.

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Dear Readers: Which New Book Would YOU Most Like to Read?


GREETINGS, Friends and Comrades.

The last two weeks have been on the quiet side, here at this little website of mine. This is not due to any lack of activity, industry or interest. I am busily at work on finishing up books, and I’ve got some other projects on the go as well. Also, I’ve been doing more radio and TV work than usual. But the really engrossing news, for me at least, is that I’m developing my next book. Here are the outlines of several new works, one of which will be the focus of my year. I’d love to know what you think about each, and especially which you’d most like to read. Your comments and ideas are much appreciated ….

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Sei Shonagon and the Pillow Book


A PILLOW BOOK is an open-ended and spontaneous collection of fragments, and as such may include lists, observations, poems, short personal essays and diary entries. A precursor of the genre zuihitsu (random jottings – the more literal meaning to proceed, or follow, with a brush), this literary form made its appearance under the title Makura no Sōshi, or Notes of the Pillow, one thousand years ago.

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