March 21, 2014

Residential school - Lawrence's story

There's a lot of sadness in Lawrence's life, yet there's hope and happiness too. Worth reading.

As Long as the Rivers Flow
by Larry Loyie

In four finely drawn vignettes, Larry Loyie, then called Lawrence, describes his childhood in northern Alberta, when he was ten years old. He cares for a baby owl, practices his hunting and tracking skills, and has a close encounter with a grizzly bear. Most memorably, he listens to the stories of his uncles and aunts and the wisdom of his grandmother. At the end of the summer, a big brown truck takes Lawrence and his brothers and sisters away to residential school.

The idyllic story that Loyie tells, imbued with the love of family and home, is a quiet remembrance of a way of life that no longer exists.

Goodbye Buffalo Bay
by Larry Loyie

In Goodbye Buffalo Bay, Loyie describes his experiences at the St. Bernard Mission residential school. After four years, he has learned not to offend the nuns. Yet despite the punishments and hard labour, he finds time to play with his friends.

At fourteen, Loyie's schooling comes to an end and he returns home. But home no longer feels the same to him. He's angry and unsure of himself. But he can still speak Cree. His father and uncles help him find work in sawmills and lumber camps, and he makes non-Native friends. The physical work and the guidance of his grandparents help him as he reconnects with his roots and makes his own way in the world.

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