Tsawwassen First Nation Chief Swәnnәset Ken Baird died Tuesday night (Aug. 2) following a lengthy illness. He was 61 years old.
On Wednesday morning, the TFN shared a post by the Baird family announcing Kenneth Lorne Baird had passed away peacefully surrounded by family.
“Chief Ken was a compassionate, wise and kind leader who loved his family, the Tsawwassen people, and his culture with all his heart,” the family said in their post.
Baird was elected chief in 2019, having previously served three terms in the Tsawwassen Legislature and one on its executive council. During his second term he was chosen as Squiqel (speaker) by his fellow legislators.
Prior to his time as chief, Baird worked for the TFN government for 20 years, first as a wastewater treatment plant operator from 1999-2005 before being promoted to supervisor in 2006. From 2010 until he was elected chief, Baird was a supervisor with the TFN’s public works department.
As chief, Baird represented the TFN on Metro Vancouver’s board of directors, serving most recently as vice-chair of Metro’s Indigenous Relations Committee and also as a member of the mayors, climate action, finance and water committees, as well as the board’s George Massey Crossing Task Force. He also served on TransLink’s Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation, and on the Naut’sa mawt Tribal Council board of directors.
In a statement Wednesday morning, the Tsawwassen government described Baird as “a kind, compassionate and thoughtful leader who was dedicated to improving the quality of life and well-being for the Tsawwassen First Nation community.”
“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.”
Baird was predeceased by his parents Lorne and Edith Baird (née Joe), stepfather David “Brownie” Brown and his younger brother David.
He is survived by his wife Cindy, his children Cody, Christina, Coral (Kaitlin), Riley (Kiana), Griffin and Quetin, his brothers Terry (Penny) and Mike (Laura), sister Kim, his grandchildren Sienna, Larrah, Makenna, Cashmir, Perseus, and his many other relatives and friends.
In a statement issued Wednesday morning, Delta Mayor George Harvie offered his condolences on behalf of council and the City of Delta.
“Chief Baird led Tsawwassen First Nation with great leadership and a passion for community. His dedication to his people was paramount and it showed in everything he did for his nation,” Harvie said.
“I have had the pleasure of working alongside Chief Baird in my capacity as the mayor of Delta. 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.
“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.
“Our thoughts are with Chief Baird’s family, friends, and Tsawwassen First Nation during this time of mourning”