BAKER, Simon




Author Tags: Aboriginal Authors

Raised primarily on the Capilano Reserve in North Vancouver, Simon Baker was the grandson of Joe Capilano. Born on January 15, 1910, he attended St. George’s Residential School in Lytton. Baker worked primarily as a longshoreman in Vancouver from 1935 to 1976, rising to the position of superintendent of Canadian Stevedoring.

Simon Baker’s life is recalled in Khot La Cha: An Autobiogra-phy of Chief Simon Baker (1994), written with Verna Kirkness. With an Aboriginal name meaning Man with a Kind Heart, Baker served as a councillor to the Squamish Nation for more than 30 years, ten years as its chairman, and became the only Squamish member to be designated Chief for Lifetime. He twice received the British Columbia Centennial Award of Merit, in 1958 and 1971, and became an international cultural ambassador in the 1970s and 1980s.

As a fundraiser and teacher, Baker played an important role in the First Nations House of Learning at the University of British Columbia where he received an Honorary Doctorate of Law in 1990. Ten years later he accepted the National Aboriginal Achievement Award for Heritage and Spirituality. Baker was invested in the Order of Canada in 1997. As a patriarch for nine children and 38 grandchildren, Simon Baker died on May 23, 2001.

In the periodical First Nations Drum, Baker was later referred to as “the last of the great North Shore Indians.”, a reference to a remarkable North Vancouver lacrosse team in the 1930s. Known as Cannonball Baker during his playing days, Baker was inducted into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame in 1999.

BOOKS:

Khot La Cha: An Autobiography of Chief Simon Baker (Douglas and McIntyre, 1994). With Verna Kirkness.

[BCBW 2005]