Chief Simon Baker's traditional Squamish name, "Khot-La-Cha" is also the name of a second generation business owned and operated by the daughter Nancy Nightengale on the Capilano Indian Reserve.  Khot-La-Cha means "Kind Heart" in the Squamish Language, and a warm welcome awaits visitors to our premises. Chief Baker is the direct descendant of Chief Joe Capilano, a respected leader who was prominent in the early land claims. Chief Capilano traveled to London, England in 1906 to present his people's case to king Edward VII. Chief Simon Baker carries on this family Tradition. He has traveled around the World several times as an ambassador of goodwill for the Canadian people

Renowned Squamish Elder Passes

With the passing of Squamish Elder, Chief Simon Baker, British Columbia lost one of its greatest cultural figures. In Khot-La-Cha : The autobiography of Chief Simon Baker, author and educator Verna Kirkness, described Baker as "an ambassador of his own culture and the human spirit." Simon Baker was indeed these things and much more. He was the last of the great "North Shore Indians," famed for their achievements in Canadian lacrosse during his youth of the 1930's. A dedicated husband and family man, Baker worked as a longshoreman for forty-one years, eventually rising to the position of superintendent of Canadian Stevadoring. He was a prime mover in organizing the first public pow wows and sporting events for Canadian First Nations. A tireless volunteer, Simon Baker served as spokesperson for countless community projects and organizations.

Chief Baker served as councillor to the Squamish Nation for over 30 years, ten of which he served as chairman. So revered by his people, he was the only Squamish member designated "Chief for Lifetime." He is the recipient of numerous of numerous awards and special recognitions. He was a two-time recipient of the British Columbia Centennial Award of Merit for 1958 and 1971. He was named to the Order of Canada in 1977 and was granted an Honourary Doctorate of Laws from the University of BC in 1990. He was a revered elder for the First Nations House of Learning and the Native Indian Teacher Education Program (NITEP) at UBC for many years, sharing his wisdom through stories and songs. He assisted in fundraising for the UBC First Nations Longhouse through his extensive network of contacts.

In May 2009, Chief Baker was inducted into the BC Sports Hall of Fame as the only surviving member of the celebrated 'North Shore Indians' of 1936 for recognition of his achievements as "Cannonball Baker," star lacrosse player of the team. In March 2000, Chief Baker received the National Aboriginal Achievement Award for Heritage and Spirituality.

As an ambassador of West Coast aboriginal culture, Baker travelled across western Europe, New Zealand and Japan throughout the 1970's and 80's, promoting aboriginal culture and heritage to the world. In his autobiography, Simon explained the importance of family and home in the retention of his cultural heritage.

" In order for me to keep the teachings of our elders, I had to keep coming home. After I left school , I had to accept the things that my grandmothers keep reminding me of, my grass roots. I tried to practice what they taught me, keeping up my culture from the teachings of my elders. I was glad to listen, to obey and practice our way. I still have the knowledge, wisdom and philosophies of our elders. I had to keep learning my own culture, my language."

Khot-La-Cha, his Squamish name for " Man with a Kind Heart", is survived by his wife of 71 years Emily, one sister, nine children, 38 great grandchildren and one great, great grandchild. He passed away on Wednesday, May 23, 2001.

 

Knot-La-Cha, The Chief Simon Baker Award


The First Nations House of Learning

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

 


Khot-la-cha (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 Neel

CHIEF SIMON BAKER HONORED
BY Michael Becker

News Editor
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 Vancouver.

Baker was instrumental in getting the resource centre off the ground in 1943. He's been involved with the project on many levels ever since.

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," said Dixon.

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 landmarks.

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."

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 251-4844.

History: America
What's Been Published

 
 
 
 
ISBN : 1550541579
Dewey : 971.1/004979 20
LCCN : E99.S7 B33 1994

Volume Details:
xx, 201 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.

 

Title:
Khot-La-Cha : the autobiography of Chief Simon Baker / compiled and edited by Verna J. Kirkness.

Baker, Simon

Baker, Simon, 1911-Baker, Simon, 1911-

Indexed Topics:

Squawmish Indians Biography. | Indiens Amâerique du Nord Colombie Britannique Biographies. | Squamish (Indiens) Biographies.

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