KPU welcomes new Indigenous artist-in-residence and writer-in-residence

Brandi Bird and Brandon Gabriel offer advice and assistance to students seeking support

Brandi Bird is KPU's new artist-in-residence (right) and Brandon Gabriel (left) is the new writer-in-residence for the spring semester. (Submitted)

Brandi Bird is KPU’s new artist-in-residence (right) and Brandon Gabriel (left) is the new writer-in-residence for the spring semester. (Submitted)

Kwantlen Polytechnic University announced Brandon Gabriel and Brandi Bird as residents for the spring semester. 

Bird began creative writing at Douglas College and transferred to the University of British Columbia’s bachelor of fine arts program in creative writing. Bird says their writing is influenced by mentors and they want to do the same for their students. 

“I’m very passionate about working with young and emerging writers, people like myself, who are still trying to find their voices, or maybe have found their voices and haven’t found the avenue for them and I felt that this position would be really well suited to that,” Bird says.

Bird’s first book, The All + Flesh, about Indigeneity, intergenerational trauma, and desire will be released in August. 

“There’s an eye in the book that isn’t me but through that eye, I explore things that I have experienced,” Bird says. 

Multigenerational trauma is something that affects every family in some way, Bird says. 

“It can be invisible, it can be institutional, it can be just abuse fit into families caused by poverty, or, the systematic issues like racism, colonialism, [and] classism.” 

In collaboration with Molly Cross-Blanchard, another writer-in-residence at KPU, Bird has planned the “Sentence-a-Day” event from Feb. 27 to March 2 at the Spruce Atrium and Arbutus library located in the χʷəχʷéy̓əm Indigenous Collection

A prompt will be provided each day so students can create sentences which will later be put on a bulletin board. The purpose of the event is to show students they can be creative in their everyday lives without spending long hours trying to do so and without much mental space. 

A poetry workshop with Bird called “Writing About the Self” will also be organized on March 7 where students will use their memory to create poems. Students interested can RSVP at, and students who want feedback on their manuscripts, poems, stories, and comic books can reach out to Bird at

Gabriel says the residency is flexible and allows time for artists to design their schedule around it. His artwork has appeared at the KPU Langley campus

Gabriel says he has a lifelong connection to the KPU community through his grandfather, grand chief Joe Gabriel of the Kwantlen Nation who allowed the university officials and provincial authorities to use the name ‘Kwantlen’ for the university. 

“I remember being in my grandpa’s kitchen when [the] university officials visited his home when I was just a small child and then years later, I became a student and now I’m a graduate,” Gabriel says. 

His wife, Melinda Bige, was formerly the chair of Indigenous studies and is currently the associate dean of the faculty of arts at KPU.  

“I feel like my connection also has to do with my identity as an Indigenous person,” Gabriel says. 

As the artist-in-residence, Gabriel is creating a legacy art piece, scheduling in-class visits with the fine arts faculty, live studio demonstrations, and organizing a drum making workshop. Gabriel hopes to help students have an understanding of being a professional artist after graduation. 

“I can be of assistance to them in [the way] that I can answer questions about the challenges that I’ve faced and the opportunities that I’ve been able to take on as a professional artist,” he says.