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‘Reconciliation 101’ talk in Surrey with former chief of Tsawwassen First Nation

‘We’re still in the truth-telling of reconciliation,’ says Kim Baird, guest speaker at Nov. 7 event
Kim Baird, seen here wearing the regalia created for her role as KPU chancellor by designer Sam Stringer and hat designed by Dorothy Grant, will speak on paths to reconciliation at TALK’s Compelling Conversations event in Surrey on Nov. 7. (Submitted photo)

Former Tsawwassen First Nation chief Kim Baird is the guest speaker for a “Reconciliation 101” talk Monday, Nov. 7, at KPU Surrey Conference Centre and also online.

The free-admission event is a fall highlight of Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s “Compelling Conversations” series, part of the TALK program (Third Age Learning At Kwantlen).

Baird is now KPU’s chancellor for a three-year term that began in October 2020.

• RELATED STORY/PHOTOS: Coast Salish inspiration for new regalia worn by incoming KPU chancellor Baird.

At 7 p.m. Nov. 7, Baird will “share the historical underpinnings of Indigenous exclusion in Canada and the impact today,” says an event advisory. “Baird will also discuss some potential paths governments and First Nations are using to resolve outstanding injustices, and share some options for action that individuals can take.”

Baird says too few Canadians remain unaware that the 94 Calls to Action in Truth and Reconciliation Report of 2015 are far from being realized.

“I think it will be a long journey and I think we’re at the beginning of it,” Baird, who consults on First Nations issues, said in a news release.

“We’re still in the truth-telling of reconciliation. We need to reconcile legal, political and economic rights between indigenous people and Canadians. We all have a role here.”

Baird lived in Langley before experiencing a new reality when she moved to the TFN reserve at age 14 with her mother, a residential school survivor. When her friends’ parents learned that she was moving to the reserve, they would no longer allow their kids to associate with her.

Living conditions on the reserve presented another rude shock. “The lack of infrastructure, the quality of homes, the poverty, the social problems were a lot more visible.”

And so was racial prejudice. “Overt racism in high school was a common occurrence. In Ladner in the ’90s all kinds of racism were occurring,” Baird recalled.

Baird was elected chief of TFN at the age of 28, serving six terms from 1999 to 2012. She 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.”

In 2009, on behalf of TFN, Chief Kwuntiltunaat (Baird) negotiated B.C.’s first urban treaty, The Tsawwassen Final Agreement, providing unprecedented benefits and opportunities for her community. The treaty, which created self-governance for TFN, led to the Tsawwassen Mills project, a commercial real estate development on TFN land, currently estimated at $780 million.

“The mall couldn’t have happened without our self-governance,” Baird added.

To register for Baird’s talk on Nov. 7, call 604-599-3077 or email

TALK is a volunteer-run organization that partners with KPU to offer courses ideal for older adults who want to continue learning. Details are posted on

Planned this fall are diverse courses for the 50-plus age group. Online courses this fall include saving Indigenous languages, meditation, memoirs of a cop and learning to love bats.

In-person talks include reversing climate change, improving finances, active aging, the solar system, the life of Emily Carr and famous Indigenous women in Canadian history.

Most TALK courses are $15, in addition to a $10 annual membership fee, for courses available through to early December.

Returned this fall is TALK’s Philosophers’ Corner, where someone researches a chosen topic and delivers a 10-minute presentation ahead of a stimulating conversation among attendees. Topics this year include the future of democracy, what COVID-19 says about rights versus privileges, and how parenting has changed. The drop-in fee for Philosophers’ Corner is $2 to $5.

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Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news stories for the Surrey Now-Leader, where I've worked for more than half of my 30-plus years in the newspaper business.
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