Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Chancellor Kim Baird was recently awarded the British Columbia Reconciliation Award. This award is given to people who have shown “exceptional leadership, integrity, respect and commitment to furthering reconciliation or inspired others to continue reconciliation efforts.”
The award was created by the BC Achievement Foundation and the office of the Lieutenant governor of British Columbia. Baird was one of the six individuals and organizations that received the 2022 award.
T̓łaḵwagila, Chief Bill Cranmer along with Brendan Eshom, Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc, the City of Kamloops, and DIVERSEcity were the other recipients of the award.
BC Foundation board member Cloy-e-iis, Judith Sayers said that the reconciliation award is a way 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,” in a press release.
Along with being the university’s chancellor, Baird is also a KPU alumna. She attended KPU during the late 1980s and early 90s, graduating with the 1992 class. In 2012, she received the distinguished alumni award.
Baird’s time at the university helped mold her interests for working with and helping the community.
“When I was attending KPU as a student, I really enjoyed how community oriented it was. It really woke my political and social consciousness … and really set me in a direction to working for my community and advancing First Nation issues,” Baird says.
While the chancellor position Baird holds is voluntary and ceremonial, she says it has been a huge honour and is excited to work in the space. She’s hoping to use the role to contribute to the university’s “outlook on how it contributes to reconciliation.”
The university experience can be daunting for new students, but Baird wants them to know it’s an opportunity to invest in themselves. From the post-secondary education perspective, she says there is an opportunity for critical learning and taking courses that increase skills.
“If you can find a way to do it, whether it’s part-time or full-time, I think people should really think about how important it is to invest in themselves,” Baird says.
“There’s an amazing faculty at KPU and lots of resources available, [so] don’t be afraid to use them or ask for help. There are plenty of people … that are there to exactly do that. Take advantage of what’s available to you and don’t be shy about it.”
Currently, Baird runs a consulting business, where she works with First Nation communities, the government, and companies on various projects to push for solutions to Indigenous issues. Lately, she has been busy with work and her business has been good, which makes her realize the world is slowly starting to change and see the importance of Indigenous issues.
“What’s happening in Canada in relation to the advancement of Indigenous issues, it’s a wonderful time to see it start to unfold, although there’s plenty of work ahead,” she says.