Former Tsawwassen First Nation chief Kim Baird has been named the third Chancellor of Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) for a three-year term starting Oct. 5.
The chancellor’s role is to serve as the ceremonial head of the university, which includes presiding over convocations and the conferring of credentials upon graduating students. The chancellor also serves as an ambassador of the university.
KPU President Alan Davis called Baird “an accomplished leader, a great advocate for Indigenous people and their communities, and is widely recognized for her work. She is also a distinguished alumna of KPU. Her achievements will inspire and support our students and graduates in many ways.”
Baird was the elected chief of Tsawwassen First Nation for six terms, from 1999 to 2012, starting at age 28. She negotiated and implemented British Columbia’s first urban modern treaty, which came into effect on April 3, 2009.
Baird is a Distinguished Alumna of KPU, an honour granted to her by the KPU Alumni Association. She graduated in 1992 with an Arts Diploma, according to a KPU news release.
She credits her studies at Kwantlen with awakening her political consciousness.
“I was working on papers on my community of Tsawwassen,” Baird says. “I learned about colonization, land claims process and why there are such poor economic conditions for Aboriginal peoples.”
Kim is mother to 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.
Baird will replace Dr. George Melville, who has served two terms as Chancellor during his six years of service in the role.
“I cannot thank George Melville enough for all his contribution to KPU over the years,” Davis added. “As Chancellor he was a mentor and guide for many of us. His joy at meeting our graduates at every convocation was always obvious, and he helped KPU grow and thrive in many ways. As the recipient of an honorary degree from KPU, George remains a highly valued member of the KPU community.”
Due to the current COVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings, Baird’s installation as Chancellor will be a virtual event, scheduled for the week of Oct. 5. Details will be shared later this summer.