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Children's Fiction Native Canadian

As Long as the Rivers Flow

by (author) Larry Loyie & Constance Brissenden

illustrated by Heather D. Holmlund

Groundwood Books Ltd
Initial publish date
Sep 2005
Native Canadian, Post-Confederation (1867-), New Experience
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2005
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Jul 2020
    List Price
  • Downloadable audio file

    Publish Date
    Mar 2023
    List Price
  • Downloadable audio file

    Publish Date
    Mar 2023
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 8 to 12
  • Grade: 3 to 7
  • Reading age: 0


Winner of the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction

From the mid-1800s to the late 1990s, the education of Indigenous children was taken on by various churches in government-sponsored residential schools. More than 150,000 children were forcibly taken from their families in order to erase their traditional languages and cultures.

As Long as the Rivers Flow is the story of Larry Loyie’s last traditional summer before entering residential school. It is a time of adventure and learning from his Elders. He cares for an abandoned baby owl, watches his kokom (grandmother) make winter moccasins, and helps his family prepare for summer camp, where he will pick berries, fish and swim. While searching for medicine plants in the bush with Kokom, he encounters a giant grizzly bear. Gently but truthfully written, the book captivates its readers and reveals a hidden history.

Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:

Explain how specific aspects of a text's illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story (e.g., create mood, emphasize aspects of a character or setting)

Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character's thoughts, words, or actions).

Explain how a series of chapters, scenes, or stanzas fits together to provide the overall structure of a particular story, drama, or poem.

About the authors

Larry Loyie was born in Slave Lake, Alberta. He lived a traditional Cree life until he was eight years old, learning from his elders, many of whom he has written about in his childrenâ??s books. He has a website abailable here: www.firstnationswriter.comThe â??Lawrence Seriesâ? books are based on Larry Loyieâ??s traditional Cree childhood. The Moon Speaks Cree (Theytus, 2013) is a winter adventure, a traditional time of family, learning and imagination, when toboggan dogs were part of everyday life.From the age of eight to 14, Larry Loyie attended St. Bernard Mission residential school in Grouard, Alberta. At 14, he entered the work force, fighting fires, working in an oil camp and a mountain sawmill.He writes about his years in residential school and moving on in Goodbye Buffalo Bay (Theytus, 2008). This engaging chapter book is the sequel to As Long as the Rivers Flow (Groundwood), winner of the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Childrenâ??s Non-Fiction. Goodbye Buffalo Bay is a popular choice for novel and classroom study.Larry Loyie is an invaluable resource on the history of residential schools in Canada. He is a survivor who has spent many years researching and writing about this hidden chapter in Canadian history.When the Spirits Dance, A Cree Boy's Search for the Meaning of War(Theytus, 2010), set during the Second World War, is based on the authorâ??s traditional Cree childhood when his father left the family to serve with the Canadian Army. It is a family story of universal interest in the discussion of the effects of war.The Gathering Tree (Theytus, 2005) is a bestselling work of fiction informed by Larry Loyieâ??s first-hand knowledge of Aboriginal culture and approaches. Winner of the 2012 Silver Medal (Health Issues) from Moon beam Children's Book Awards, The Gathering Tree encourages HIV awareness and prevention. Impressive, authentic illustrations by Heather D. Holmlund enhance the story. Included are 15 questions and answers in reader-friendly language prepared by Chee Mamuk, the Aboriginal education arm of the BC Centre for Disease Control.Larry Loyieâ??s books have been honoured by the First Nation Communities Read program and other awards and award-nominations. They are Highly Recommended by CM Magazine, Books in Print and other publications. His books are found on curriculums and recommended reading lists across Canada. Study material for each book is included on his website: http://firstnationswriter.comLarry Loyie went back to school at the age of 55 to achieve his lifelong dream of becoming a writer. He is an active proponent of literacy and learning. With his partner, writer and editor Constance Brissenden, he launched Living Traditions Writers Group in 1993 to encourage Aboriginal writing. Together Larry and Constance have given more than 1,400 workshops, talks and presentations in schools, libraries, at writerâ??s festivals and conferences. Larry Loyie is also available for Skype school visits.

Larry Loyie's profile page

Constance Brissenden, BA (UofGuelph), MA (UofAlberta, Theatre) has written with Cree author Larry Loyie since 1993. A non-fiction writer and editor of more than 14 books of history and travel, she was a writing instructor in Simon Fraser University's Writing & Publishing program for 18 years. Constance Brissenden met Larry Loyie in a creative writing class at the Carnegie Community Centre in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. She directed Larry Loyie's first play, Ora Pro Nobis, Pray for Us, performed in Vancouver as well as five federal prisons in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. In 1993, Larry Loyie and Constance Brissenden launched Living Traditions Writers Group to encourage writing in Aboriginal and other communities. A lifelong freelancer, Constance Brissenden continues to write, edit and teach writing and theatre. Together with Larry Loyie, she gives presentations on his books and co-teaches writing workshops


Constance Brissenden's profile page

HEATHER D. HOLMUND graduated with honors from the Bachelor of Fine Arts Program at York University where her main concentrations were painting and metal sculpture. Since completing her degree, Heather’s artistic practice has led her to explore the exchange between the Canadian environment and the act of representation through art forms. Heather works between her studios in Pickering, Ontario, and Rainy Lake, Ontario. Her work is found in private and corporate collections, and is exhibited throughout Canada.

Heather D. Holmlund's profile page


  • Winner, First Nation Communities READ
  • Commended, Canadian Children’s Book Centre
  • Commended, Cooperative Children's Book Center Choice
  • Winner, Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction

Editorial Reviews

Holmlund's realistic and detailed watercolors expertly illuminate events throughout the story, in vignettes, plates, and a few full-page pictures.

School Library Journal

Loyie's quite words and Holmlund's authentic watercolor art capture the happy wilderness home...


A haunting combination of art, story and document.

Toronto Star

Librarian Reviews

As Long as the Rivers Flow

This story is based on the author’s memories of the last summer he spent with his family near Slave Lake, Alberta before being taken away to residential school. The year is 1944. Lawrence is ten years old. His family lives off the land, eating roasted rabbit and duck soup, fish, and bannock; the moose’s flesh is eaten in stew and its hide used for winter clothes and moccasins. Lawrence and his grandmother search for herbs— Labrador tea for when you’re tired and rat root for sore throats. They encounter an angry grizzly. Grandma shoots it creating fodder for stories around the campfire with aunts and uncles. In the background, there are worried whispers. Then, the truck arrives to take Lawrence and his siblings away. Photographs of Lawrence and his family complete the story.

Source: The Association of Book Publishers of BC. Canadian Aboriginal Books for Schools. 2007-2008.

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