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Barbara (Ann) Roberts (1941-1998) was an activist and feminist peace scholar whose work and writing encompassed feminism, the peace movement, women’s history, social justice, and immigrant history. She wrote and contributed to numerous scholarly journals as well as authoring and co-authoring monographs, including: “Whence They Came: Deportation from Canada 1900-1935” (1988), “Strategies for the Year 2000: A Woman’s Handbook” (1995), “A Reconstructed World: A Feminist Biography of Gertrude Richardson” (1996), “A Decent Living: Women Workers in the Winnipeg Garment Industry” (1991), “Feminist Research Ethics: A Process” (1996).
Barbara Roberts was born in California, in 1941; she spent her childhood and early adulthood in the United States, marrying in 1958, at age 17. In 1970, Roberts moved with her two children to Vancouver, British Columbia, where she completed her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Simon Fraser University.
In 1980, Barbara Roberts completed a doctorate in history from the University of Ottawa; she married fellow historian, David Millar, in the same year. Both Roberts and Millar taught at the University of Winnipeg’s history department from 1980-1982 both. Roberts went on to teach women’s studies at the University of Winnipeg and the University of Manitoba, between 1982-1983, before accepting an appointment in the Department of Educational Foundations, College of Education, University of Saskatchewan, from 1983-1984. At the University of Saskatchewan, she taught feminism and cooperative methods.
In 1985, when the United Nations convened its Third World Conference on the status of women in Nairobi, Kenya, Roberts helped organize the Peace Tent, run by the Women’s International for Peace and Food and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. The Peace Tent—held at the University of Nairobi in conjunction with the United Nations event—consisted of nine days of workshops, exhibits, activities, and discussions with women from across the globe.
Among the Peace Tent organizers, Roberts and Alice Wiser created a Peace Caravan that travelled across Europe and North America to raise awareness about women’s efforts to promote peace and social change through women’s values. Roberts also created a Peace Tent educational slide and audiotape show that was featured within Halifax, Nova Scotia as well as within other cities across the province.
In the mid- to late- 1980s, Roberts accepted several academic appointments. In 1986, she worked as a summer lecturer at Dalhousie University before becoming an assistant professor of women’s studies, in 1987, at the Simone de Beauvoir Institute, Concordia University. From 1989-1997, Roberts worked as an associate professor of women’s studies at Athabasca University in Edmonton, Alberta. Roberts and her husband, David Millar, moved to Victoria, British Columbia, in 1998, where Roberts passed away unexpectedly after a brief illness.
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“Barbara Ann Roberts Fonds - University of Victoria.” Accessed August 8, 2022. https://uvic2.coppul.archivematica.org/barbara-ann-roberts-fonds.
“The Nairobi Peace Tent 1984.” Accessed August 8, 2022. http://www.gift-economy.com/articlesAndEssays/nairobiPeaceTent.html.
“Barbara Roberts Prize/Prix Barbara Roberts | CCWGH-CCHFG,” January 13, 2017. https://ccwgh-cchfg.com/prizesprix/barbara-roberts-prizeprix-barbara-roberts/.
Early, Frances. “In Memoriam: Barbara Roberts.” Atlantis 24, no. 1 (1999): 77–78. https://doi.org/10.1553/0x0001fa8e.