Kwantlen Polytechnic University chancellor and former Tsawwassen First Nation chief Kwuntiltunaat, Kim Baird, is being recognized by the province for her work in furthering reconcilliation.
Baird is one of three individuals and three organizations named as recipients of the 2022 British Columbia Reconciliation Award.
Awarded by the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia in partnership with BC Achievement Foundation, the award recognizes extraordinary people and groups who have demonstrated exceptional leadership, integrity, respect and commitment to furthering reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in B.C. or inspired others to continue reconciliation efforts, according to press release.
“Reconciliation builds relationships and bridges the gap between two worlds through the efforts of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. By recognizing the truths of past wrongs and showcasing examples of how to make things right, others will be inspired to follow,” BC Achievement Foundation board member Cloy-e-iis, Judith Sayers, said in a release congratulating this year’s recipients.
“In its second year, the British Columbia Reconciliation Award continues to celebrate innovative and empowering ways to embark on this journey, designed and decided by Indigenous Peoples, allowing them to thrive while making the world a better place.”
A bio posted on the award website describes Baird as an accomplished leader and respected advocate for Indigenous people who is nationally recognized for her work in reconciliation.
“Kim’s life work has provided a foundation that will create the opportunity for the process of reconciliation to exist/thrive. This includes acknowledging that First Nations have a right to self-determination, a quality of life equal to all, and in partnership with all people,” the bio states.
“I’d like to think most of my work has been in that vein, so it’s just really satisfying to be recognized for any contribution towards it,” Baird said in a press release. “I’m really thrilled to be among the others that are receiving the award as well. I think it’s a great award to recognize people’s work in this area.”
Baird is a graduate of KPU, receiving the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2012, and has served as the university’s chancellor since 2020.
She was elected chief of the TFN at the age of 28 and held the position for six terms from 1999 to 2012. In that role, Baird negotiated B.C.’s first urban modern treaty, which came into effect in 2009. The treat provided unprecedented benefits and opportunities, and her leadership contributed to TFN being one of the most progressive First Nations in Canada, according to the bio.
Baird now runs her own consulting firm and continues to share her expertise on many public and private boards.
“We’re at the very beginning still of reconciliation. My community found its path, but beyond that there’s just so much more work to do in that space in this province,” she said. “There’s lots of ways of doing it. I continue to work with companies and governments to explore ways to getting at those outcomes. I’d like to think that’s why I’ve been recognized.”
Others receiving the Reconciliation Award this year include T̓łaḵwagila, Chief Bill Cranmer of Alert Bay; Brendan Eshom of Prince Rupert; Vancouver-based Atomic Cartoons in partnership with GBH; DIVERSEcity – Surrey Local Immigration Partnership; and Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc and the City of Kamloops.
More information about the award recipients is available at ltgov.bc.ca/priority-programs/the-bc-reconciliation-award.
“For the second year of the British Columbia Reconciliation Award, I have been heartened by the continued focus on advancing reconciliation in B.C.,” Lieutenant Governor of B.C. Janet Austin said in a press release.
“The 2022 recipients represent Elders and youth, partnership and leadership. They showcase creative ways of educating young generations and new Canadians on the history and culture of Indigenous people, ensuring all are included on the journey of reconciliation. It has been my deep honour to champion the award, and I couldn’t be prouder to share the accomplishments of the 2022 recipients with British Columbians.”