iako Patton

U of T student makes history as first female First Nations Rhodes scholar

University of Toronto student Iakoiehwáhtha (Iako) Patton is making history by joining a select club of Indigenous academics who have received the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University. 

Patton is a fourth-year undergraduate student in the Faculty of Arts & Sciences, a member of Victoria College, and one of 11 Canadian recipients of the world's most distinguished academic scholarship this year. 

She is the fifth Victoria College student in 13 years to be selected as one of two Rhodes Scholars in Ontario this year. 

As a member of the Kanien'kehá:ka First Nations community in Quebec, Patton told Victoria College that her identity as an Indigenous woman has informed her studies in art history. 

"I didn't have Indigenous academic role models so I really had to pave my own path," she told her college. "If I can help to create structures and pathways for other Indigenous women in academia, that would make me feel very happy." 

Pattion also served as the student lead on Victoria University's Campus (Re)conciliations conference, president of the History of Art Students' Association, and member of multiple Indigenous advisory committees at U of T. 

Patton told her college that the first call she made after receiving news of her Rhodes Scholarship was to her mother in Kahnawake, the Kanien’kehá:ka community outside Montreal. 

"I've never heard my mother cry like that," Patton said. "My parents didn't have a post-secondary education and growing up, they wanted me to have every opportunity that they didn't have. They have been so supportive of me pursuing my academic passions. I’ve always put everything I've had into the things that I love, and I truly love art history."

Patton said she plans to study the depiction of North American Indigenous peoples in the Netherlandish art canon when she attends Oxford University next year. 

Lead photo by

University of Toronto

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