Barbara Antone (Smith)

Born in 1937 into an Oneida farming family, Barbara Antone was fortunate to always have access to food in a community where not every family had such a luxury.

Being raised on a native reserve meant that Barbara was the beneficiary of a close-knit, almost insular childhood. She had two grandparents whose lessons about nature and music proved influential for Barbara. However, this upbringing meant that Barbara was wholly unaware of the discrimination other native peoples faced in life off the reserve.

After completing high school in London, Barbara had gained hurtful, yet invaluable experiences of First Nations discrimination and was determined to eradicate the misunderstanding and cruel behavior towards native peoples.

The focal point of Barbara’s efforts was the introduction of Native Studies courses into school curriculums. While first implemented in only Native schools, the courses eventually became ubiquitous within schools across the nation. The Native Studies courses allowed First Nations children to grow up with a prouder sense of place within Canadian history, and that achievement in itself shows just how meaningful and lasting the work done by Barbara Antone was.

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