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Biography

Constance Brissenden is an experienced presenter, writer, editor, and historian. She is co-author of nine award-winning books by Cree author Larry Loyie (1933-2016), in addition to more than 20 books of history and travel.

After Larry Loyie’s passing, Constance completed Wild Waters, Inside a Voyageur’s World, a historic novel about Tomma, Larry’s four times great-grandfather, available March 2021 from Indigenous Education Press in partnership with www.GoodMinds.com.

fistnationswriter@gmail.com

www.firstnationswriter.com

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Presentations

Constance Brissenden is an experienced presenter, in person and for virtual visits, with a Masters in Theatre from the University of Alberta.

Pricing for virtual visits: $125 for 30-40 minutes

Kindergarten-Grade 3

Have your students seen the Northern Lights? Have they seen a bison? In a presentation related to Wild Waters, Inside a Voyageur’s World (Indigenous Education Press), they will learn about the Northern Lights (aurora borealis) and share their own stories of the skies at night. A bison plays a major role in the book. Have they seen bison (also known as buffalo)? What wild animals have they seen? They will share in this session.

Grades 4-6

What was life really like in the voyageur world, when the roads across Canada were rivers and lakes? Larry Loyie’s great-grandfather, Tomma, was an 18-year-old Iroquois voyageur in 1828. He worked for the Hudson’s Bay Company, paddling and portaging from Montreal to the Pacific Ocean. Reading Wild Waters, Inside a Voyageur’s World (Indigenous Education Press) students learn about and compare their lives with this young paddler’s tough yet enlightening existence.

Grades 7-9

Voyageurs paddled the birchbark trade canoes for the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC), often during 14-hour working days. Most were Indigenous, like Larry Loyie’s Iroquois great-grandfather, Tomma, and Canadiens (French fathers and Indigenous mothers), like his other great-grandfather, Bonhomme. Wild Waters, Inside a Voyageur’s World (Indigenous Education Press) is an historic novel set in 1828. It traces 18-year-old Tomma’s view of a fast-paced voyage of 5,250 km with George Simpson, all-powerful governor of HBC. Students learn about and discuss the fairness of a dramatic time in Canadian history, written with humour and insight.

Grades 10-12

Voyageurs paddled birchbark canoes for the Hudson’s Bay Company. They worked for 14 hours at a stretch, surviving on little sleep and food. Most were Indigenous, like Tomma, Larry Loyie’s 18-year-old Iroquois great-grandfather, and Canadiens (with French fathers and Indigenous mothers). In Wild Waters, Inside a Voyageur’s World (Indigenous Education Press), readers follow a fast-paced voyage of 5,250 km with George Simpson, all-powerful governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company. Students share an insider’s look at a dramatic time in Canadian history. Wild Waters asks the question: what price is Tomma willing to pay for personal freedom?

larry and constance

Bibliography

Wild Waters, Inside a Voyageur’s World by Larry Loyie with Constance Brissenden. Chapter book, grade 6 and up, $19.99, 140 pages. Order from Indigenous Education Press / www.goodminds.com.

Tomma was a young Haudenosaunee, also known as Iroquois, voyageur, who signed with the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1828. Together with Governor George Simpson, Tomma was one of the paddlers who challenged Hell’s Gate in the Fraser River. This terrifying passage to the edge of death leads Tomma to make decisions about his future: to remain loyal to the Hudson’s Bay Company or to seek his personal freedom.

Residential Schools, With the Words and Images of Survivors, A National History (Indigenous Education Press, Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre) by Larry Loyie with Wayne K. Spear and Constance Brissenden. Also available as an iBook. Golden Oak Award.

Two Plays About Residential School (Indigenous Education Press). Edited by Constance Brissenden. Updated 20th anniversary edition of two ground-breaking plays about residential school and its aftermath: Ora Pro Nobis, Pray for Us by Larry Loyie and Vera Manuel’s The Strength of Indian Women.

As Long as the Rivers Flow (Groundwood) by Larry Loyie with Constance Brissenden, illustrations by Heather D. Holmlund. Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction; Honour Book, First Nation Communities Read Award; Finalist Golden Oak and Rocky Mountain Book awards.

Tant que couleront les rivières, French edition of As Long as the Rivers Flow (Editions des Plaines) by Larry Loyie with Constance Brissenden.

Goodbye Buffalo Bay, A true story of life in a residential school and of moving on (Theytus) by Larry Loyie with Constance Brissenden.

When the Spirits Dance, A Cree Boy’s Search for the Meaning of War (Theytus) by Larry Loyie with Constance Brissenden. Finalist Anskohk Aboriginal Writers Awards.

The Moon Speaks Cree, A Winter Adventure (Theytus) by Larry Loyie with Constance Brissenden.

Welcome to the Circle (Pearson Canada) by Larry Loyie with Constance Brissenden.

The Gathering Tree by Larry Loyie with Constance Brissenden, illustrations by Heather D. Holmlund (Theytus). Moonbeam Children’s Book Award (USA), Silver Medal, Health Category.

Reviews

“I’m really inspired, you are the best.”

Divine, grade 4 student, Ecole Monseigneur de Laval in Regina, SK

“I loved meeting you.”

Amelie, grade 4 student, Ecole Monseigneur de Laval in Regina, SK

“I really liked the online class.”

James, grade 4 student, Ecole Monseigneur de Laval in Regina, SK

“I really enjoyed your time with us.”

Jonah, grade 4 student, Ecole Monseigneur de Laval in Regina, SK