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Baird to become KPU’s next chancellor

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 4:37 PDT, Mon June 22, 2020

Last Updated: 4:56 PDT, Mon June 22, 2020

A distinguished alumna of Kwantlen Polytechnic University is set to become the school’s next chancellor. 

Kim Baird’s three-year term will begin Oct. 5.

The chancellor’s role is to serve as the ceremonial head of the university, which most notably includes presiding over convocations and the conferring of credentials upon graduating students. The chancellor also serves as an ambassador of the university.

Kwalten president Alan Davis called Baird an accomplished leader and a great advocate for Indigenous people and their communities.

“Her achievements will inspire and support our students and graduates in many ways,” Davis said.

Baird was the elected Chief of the Tsawwassen First Nation for six terms, from 1999-2012. She negotiated and implemented British Columbia’s first urban modern treaty, which came into effect on April 3, 2009. This first urban treaty in B.C. has provided unprecedented benefits and opportunities for the Tsawwassen First Nation. Baird’s leadership has contributed to the Tsawwassen First Nation being one of the most progressive First Nations in the country.

Baird graduated in 1992 with an Arts Diploma, and credits her studies at Kwantlen with awakening her political consciousness.

“I was working on papers on my community of Tsawwassen. I learned about colonization, land claims process and why there are such poor economic conditions for Aboriginal peoples,” Baird said.

She graduated with a determination to improve the lives of her people and started working for her community in 1990. In 1999, she was elected Chief of the Tsawwassen First Nation, and at just 28 years old, was the youngest woman to hold that position. 

Baird is the proud mother of three young girls and her ancestral name is Kwuntiltunaat.

"I had a tough upbringing and odds were against me to finish high school, let alone attend a post-secondary institution,” said Baird. “I chose Kwantlen because of its smaller community-based campuses. Little did I know that this choice would lead me on an amazing career path, allowing me to make meaningful contributions to my community and Indigenous issues. I never dreamed that I could one day be the chancellor for an institution that changed my life. 

“As chancellor, I hope to contribute to KPU's evolving role with Indigenous reconciliation in Canada." 

Baird is the owner of Kim Baird Strategic Consulting. She advises First Nations, governments, businesses and other organizations on Indigenous matters. Her goal in her consulting practice is to improve the quality of life for Indigenous people through her services in relation to First Nation policy, governance, and economic development, as well as First Nation consultation, communication, and engagement issues.

Her leadership has been acknowledged and recognized in many ways, including:

  • Order of British Columbia;
  • Indspire Award;
  • Member of the Order of Canada;
  • Honourary Doctorate from Simon Fraser University;
  • Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal;
  • Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 Award;
  • National Aboriginal Women in Leadership Distinction Award;
  • Vancouver Magazine’s Power 50 Award; and
  • Canada’s Most Powerful Women Top 100 Award
  • KPU’s Distinguished Alumnae Award

She holds a number of board appointments, including:

  • Canada Infrastructure Bank;
  • Greater Vancouver Board of Trade;
  • UBC Sauder Dhillon Centre Business Ethics Advisory Board;
  • Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian;
  • Canada Public Policy Forum;
  • Clear Seas Centre for Responsible Marine Shipping;
  • BC Indigenous Business Investment Council;
  • LaSalle College; and
  • Chief Joe Mathias Scholarship Foundation

“Kim is very highly regarded locally, provincially and nationally,” said Kwantlen board chair Sandra Case. 

Known for being a team-builder and a collaborator, Baird is committed to building capacity within her community and within other First Nations communities across B.C. and beyond.

Due to the current COVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings, Baird’s installation as chancellor will be a virtual event. Details will be shared later this summer.

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