davidbarnesDavid Barnes (centre) with his parents Guy and Flo Barnes on the
day he graduated from the International Academy of Design.

David Guy Barnes became a citizen of the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) in 1996, and in 1997 he attended an MNO meeting in Toronto where he learned about new MNO training initiatives, whereby funding would be available to support Métis people pursuing their education and career goals. David couldn’t help but think that this was his chance to go back to school and further his educational goals. He also recognized, however, that both he and his family would have to make sacrifices if he was to return to school. He was 36 years old at the time and was already married with two children.

The more he thought of the sacrifices his family would have to make, the more David had second thoughts. He asked family members for their opinions. Many agreed that it was a good idea but David’s grandmother was particularly encouraging. So, with the support of his family, David enrolled in the International Academy of Design (IAD) and was accepted on January 2, 1997, an auspicious day, as it was also his grandmother’s birthday.

David was very successful at IAD, where he received many scholarships and awards, even achieving the highest Grade Point Average in his program. David went on to received certificates for perfect attendance, was chosen on numerous occasions to represent the IAD at functions and in his final won the IAD’s highest scholarship. In his fourth year he was accredited with the Foundation for Interior Design Education Research (FIDER) and graduated with honours in 2000. David then went on to receive his accreditation as a Registered Interior Designer exactly 10 years from the date of his acceptance into IAD (again his grandmother’s birthday).

Since his graduation David has had an impressive career. He has completed work for the Government of Ontario, including renovating over 40 floors of government buildings in Toronto. He has developed land and designed and built large lakefront cottages on Lake Simcoe and his clients have included doctors, CEO’s, architects and even other designers. In 2005, David started up a company specifically to design and build retail stores across Canada and the United States and has completed over 100 builds, some as large as 30,000 square feet.

In 2012, David was chosen from among his peers to travel to Denmark as a guest of the Danish Foreign Ministry to tour the country and meet local designers and manufacturers. The trip was a true adventure for David as he loves to travel but rarely has the time.

David is a member of the Canadian Council of Aboriginal Business and his company is registered and certified as an Aboriginal company. He is an avid Native art collector and many of David’s designs are influenced by and feature Aboriginal art. According to David: “The silence of my designs allows the art to speak.”

Cheryle, David’s wife of 35 years still marvels at the how his family’s sacrifices paid off. “This long path from Carpenter to Interior Designer could not have been accomplished without the support of my family and the help of the Métis Nation of Ontario, which funded my education and allowed me to attain the goals I could not have reached on my own,” said David.