written by
Sandie de Freitas


 I first met Keithlyn Smith in 1994 at the  Antigua airport on my way back to Canada. It was my first visit back since I was 7years old.

I just remember this soft spoken who approached me and asked if I could take this important note back with me to give to his brother. Canada being a large country questioned if he knew exactly its size and whether he was aware  his ask could be an impossible task to undertake. He quickly re assured me that it was in fact close to Toronto and from the phone number he gave me I immediately realized it was closer to me than anticipated. That was the  first and last time I had the privilege of meeting him.

I soon found out that Keithlyn and his brother Fernando Smith were the authors of the famous book To  Shoot hard Labour a celebrated document  book that documents the oral accounts of their grandfather Pappy Smith died at 105yrs after having lived through the torturous life of the plantation system just after slavery in Antigua. The book became a best seller in 1986 with numerous acquisitions by schools in both Canada and the US and the public. The book’s  success lead to  “To Shoot Hard Labour 2.

 Sir Keithlyn Smith was born is Seaview Farm Village, Antigua. He was the second of eleven children and was educated at the All Saints Primary School.  He was a genuine civil rights activist  fighting for labour rights. He was a founder of the Antigua Workers Union  where he became the second General Secretary of the AWU, a position he held for 32 years. He was instrumental in advancing the benefits of the working people broadening their scope of representation and teaching them new skills to meet the computer age, hotel development and banking.

Sir Keithlyn Smith was appointed an ambassador at large in 2005 and then knighted in 2007.  Sir Keithlyn Smith passed away July 31 2020.