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: a finalist for the Golden Oak Award

Residential Schools: with the Words and Images of Survivors is a finalist for the Golden Oak Award!

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This award is sponsored by the Ontario Library Association (OLA) and is part of The Forest of Reading, Canada’s largest recreational reading program. Winners will be announced on May 18.

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.

My book, Residential Schools, is “highly recommended” by CM Magazine!

Residential Schools

CM Magazine

Click on the image to go to the CM Magazine review.

eBook Download: Reconciliation & 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