Erene Anthony: A Lifetime of Service

Erene Anthony: A Lifetime of Service

Erene Anthony, fondly referred to as Ms. Anthony in the community has dedicated her life to nurturing talents from, the classroom to the church and even outside of Canada. She credits her beginnings in Antigua as a large part of what informed her life choices and journey. This ethos of prioritizing education became the cornerstone of her own approach to teaching, where she sought not just to impart knowledge but to instill a love for learning in her students.

“Our parents were not rich, but they did their best to make sure my siblings and I had the best in terms of education,” she explains to the CONTACT.

We meet virtually as is the new normal in during this post pandemic era. And even though Ms. Anthony is in her 80’s she was still busy doing tests online constantly looking to better herself.
She attended the prestigious Antigua Girls High School, and after that she went to the Antigua Teachers Training College. She worked in Antigua for 6 years before she moved to Montreal.

“During those 6 years, I taught Home Economics that was an area that I was interested in. I started from kindergarten and moved all the way to grade 6 in that time,” she explains.

She says that her foundation was strongly in the church. Back home in Antigua she served in the Sunday school and grew to be a very talented organist and a choir director. She found Union United Church two years into her stay in Montreal, and she has called it home since 1970. In Montreal she went to George Williamson College and got her bachelor’s in education and so began her career as a pedagogue.

“I wasn’t motivated by a salary I wanted to make a difference in the lives of students.”

Ms. Anthony, initially started as a substitute teacher and then became a teacher at Royal Arthur College. She went to various schools during her tenure. She witnessed several changes in the school board as the regimes changed in Quebec.

“Initially we had the Protestant and Catholic School boards,” she explains, “I was a part of the Protestant school board and then things changed and so we had the French and English school boards. By this time, I just preferred to be on the west island which is where I lived. So, when the next rounds of change came, I joined a catholic school.”

Being passionate about music, she is proud of the fact that in the 6 schools she taught in she ensured that they introduced a music program if they didn’t have that.

“Music is beautiful. It’s unfortunate that whenever they are doing budget cuts in schools the first things to go are the music programs and special needs programs. It’s a pity,” she laments, “these are important programs for the overall well-being of the children.”

Ms. Anthony’s accolades, ranging from the Prime Minister of Antigua Outstanding Citizenship Award to CJAD Hero of the Month, underscore her global impact. However, it is her unwavering commitment to faith and community that epitomizes her character. At Union United Church, she assumes diverse leadership roles, fostering fellowship and spiritual growth.

For Erene Anthony, her relationship with God is the most important thing to her. “I believe God helped me to achieve everything I have up to now.”

Now enjoying retirement, her advocacy remains resolute, evident through her involvement in organizations like The Black History Month Round Table and the Quebec Provincial Association of Retired School Educators. Serving as Program Director of QPARSE, she continues to champion community betterment.
On a visit to Haiti, she was compelled to act by the deplorable state of the school, which was then an open-air shack. She met students with tattered clothes who had barely eaten. She mobilized funds and they have built three classrooms. She was a part of this initiative with the Chelaine Du Millénaire in Haiti.
She may be away from the classroom, but she is still teaching. At Union United Church she is the director of the band, training the next generation of musicians in composition and arranging. As she goes on, she hopes to pass the torch of musical and pedagogical excellence to the next generation, ensuring her legacy continues to inspire and uplift.