Knot-La-Cha, The Chief Simon Baker Award
Inside the Longhouse
The Chief Simon Baker Award has been designated for a First
Nations student in any faculty or year who completes a project
based on Elders' knowledge.
Awards totalling $600 been established in honour of Chief
Knot-La-Cha, Dr. Simon Baker, of the Squamish Nation and has been
endowed by Dr. Verna J. Kirkness of the University of British
Columbia and friends, as well as through the royalties received
from the sale of "Knot-La-Cha. The Autobiography of Chief
Simon Baker." Last reviewed 10-Sep-2009
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Chief Simon Baker
Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, 1990
(Man with the Kind Heart) was born on the Capilano Reserve. Much
of his life has been spent keeping First Nations culture alive,
not only among his own people, but in the hearts and minds of the
general population. An ambassador of his culture and of the human
spirit, Baker served his people as councillor and chairman of the
Squamish Indian Band for 40 years. He has worked in Canada and
abroad as a fisherman, longshoreman, public lecturer, actor and
performer. He founded the Northwest Coast Indian Cultural Society,
the first such organization in B.C. First Nations people across
the continent have shown their appreciation and respect for Simon
Baker by bestowing upon him such titles as honourary Chief of the
Sechelt Nation, and honourary member of the Oshewekan Nation
Lacrosse Family of Ontario. He also has an honourary lifetime
membership in the Native Brotherhood of B.C., and in 1989 was
named King of Elders in B.C. The University of British Columbia
has benefited from his invaluable advice and counsel on such
projects as the First Nations House of Learning and the Native
Indian Teacher Education Program. His support of his family and
constant generosity of time and spirit know no bounds. This same
energy emerges though his volunteer work for myriad church groups
and charitable organizations.
Simon & Emily Baker, photo courtesy of David
CHIEF SIMON BAKER HONORED
KHOT-LA-CHA (man with a kind heart) is
being honored today.
Squamish First Nations Chief Simon Baker, 85,
joins fellow founding members of the Vancouver Aboriginal
Friendship Centre Society in a celebration at the centre in
Baker was instrumental in getting the resource centre off the
ground in 1943. He's been involved with the project on many levels
Said society vice-president Stan Dixon,
"We're naming the multicultural conference room. It will be
the Chief Simon Baker Room. About eight rooms will be given names,
but the most important room is the conference room.
"Simon right now is not too healthy, but he
doesn't give up when he's needed to go out and help people,"
About 200 people from throughout B.C. are
attending the day-long event.
Dixon describes the Vancouver Aboriginal
Friendship Centre as a "guiding light" for all First
Nations people who migrate to the city.
The resource centre includes a kindergarten, a
baby-sitting service for young mothers who work, an alcohol and
abuse program, and other programs to help people better themselves
and prepare for employment.
It's also a networking centre for First Nations
people who are unaware of where they can get specific assistance.
They plug in to other native organizations at the centre.
Today's honor is one of countless bestowed upon
the Squamish elder.
Baker's rich life is full of such personal
In 1990, for example, he was awarded an honorary
Doctor of Laws degree from the University of British Columbia.
The accolades have come in recognition of
efforts spent fanning the spiritual fire of First Nations people.
In the process, Baker has acted upon his unwavering belief in the
power of volunteerism.
In the 1940s he founded the Coqualeetza
Fellowship Club, a support and social group for urban natives.
He continues to be active with the Lions Club on
the North Shore.
Said Baker of today's honor, "To tell you
the truth I'm really happy. All the work I did, I didn't do it
just to make glory for myself."
The Chief Simon Baker Room will include an area
of special significance to the chief.
"I won't be in this world very long, not
the way I feel, but all my personal possessions, things that I use
when I travelled, now they've got a place to put it. They can put
it in a big glass case. People can go in there and look at
It will be just like something he saw all those
years ago on his first trip to Knotts Berry Farm.
"I was quite a boxer in my young days. I
knew Jimmy McLaren, and all those guys. I went into this building
and stayed there pretty well the whole day just reading about Jack
Dempsey and all these boxers. So I say to myself, 'Gee it would be
nice for people to have something like that.' "
The Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre is a
dream come true for Baker.
"We've got people waking up. People getting
to understand what it is to work together, not just leaving it for
a few people to do the work. This way we're helping the little
ones right up to the elders. In between we have a lot of issues, a
lot of problems with liquor and drugs and prostitution, this is
what we're working to educate our people.
"This is a place where people can go to
gather, get up and sing and dance our beautiful Indian songs. They
go home they feel good, The don't go home and start clubbing
people on the head to try and get a few cents. They realize we've
got to live the way we used to," he said.
For more information about the centre call
What's Been Published
xx, 201 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.
the autobiography of Chief Simon
Baker / compiled and edited by Verna
Baker, Simon, 1911-Baker, Simon,
Indians Biography. | Indiens
Amâerique du Nord Colombie
Britannique Biographies. | Squamish
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