Tsawwassen First Nation Chief Ken Baird passed away on Tuesday after a courageous and lengthy battle with an illness.
A soft-spoken man dedicated to the betterment of his people, Chief Swənnəset, 61, passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family.
He was a highly respected and loved Tsawwassen elder and leader, husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, cousin and friend, the TFN noted in an announcement on Wednesday morning.
“Chief Ken was a compassionate, wise, and kind leader who loved his family, the Tsawwassen people, and his culture with all his heart,” the TFN noted.
In a statement from the Tsawwassen Government, Baird was described as a kind, compassionate and thoughtful leader.
In addition to being a long-time employee in the Public Works Department, Chief Baird served as an elected leader in the Tsawwassen Legislature since 2009, including one term as squiqel (Speaker) of the Legislature from 2013 to 2016.
He was elected as Chief in 2019.
“Chief Baird’s leadership has helped guide the community through many challenging times over the last three and a half years, and he will be very deeply missed by everyone. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time,” the TFN said.
Delta Mayor George Harvie extend the city’s deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences, saying Baird’s dedication to his people was paramount, and it showed in everything he did for his First Nation.
“His knowledge, kindness, and deep passion for the betterment of his people was commendable and the relationship between the City of Delta and Tsawwassen First Nation has been made better by his dedication to reconciliation,” said Harvie.
“He will be remembered for his contributions to his community and the friendships he has formed as he charted a path towards a more prosperous Nation,” he added.
Baird recently described 2022 National Indigenous Peoples Day (June 21) as important to acknowledge injustices of the past, learning about Indigenous neighbours and embracing opportunities for meaningful reconciliation.
”On this day we hold up our hands to honour each of the ancestors who came before us. Their leadership and their resilience through the dark times of colonization forged the path for the Tsawwassen People to be the strong, self-governing First Nation that we are today, and continues to give us strength for our future generations,” Baird said.
The TFN noted that details on the funeral service will be announced.