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Kwantlen welcomes new Indigenous artist- and writer-in-residence

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 11:06 PST, Wed February 8, 2023

Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) is welcoming Brandi Bird and Brandon Gabriel as new Indigenous writer- and artist-in-residence respectively. They join Molly Cross-Blanchard and Á'a:líya Warbus, who have been at KPU since the fall semester.

“This spring 2023 semester promises to be dynamic with four established and emerging Indigenous artists and writers in residence at KPU,” says Shelley Boyd, dean in the Faculty of Arts at KPU. “Brandon Gabriel, Brandi Bird, Molly Cross-Blanchard, and Á'a:líya Warbus will have opportunities to inspire, to share, to connect, and to create—all of which leads to positive transformations for KPU and the communities we serve.”

Bird’s work has been published in Room Magazine, Brick Magazine, Prism International and more. They are Indigiqueer Saulteaux, Cree, and Métis from Treaty One territory.

“Being the Indigenous writer-in-residence at KPU is a gift. This appointment and the spaciousness of it has allowed me the privilege of generation and consultation. I'm excited to start a new project, a new book of poetry about desire, disability, and Indigeneity while also engaging with other people's work,” says Bird.

As a poet who also writes fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetry comics, they say they want to ignite that passion of creativity in all forms in people they will get to meet.

“I hope to reach as many people as I possibly can in this position,” says Bird. “I want to read work by students, staff, and faculty no matter where they are in their writing journey. I am an emerging writer and I wouldn't be here without the help and mentorship of other people including teachers, writers, and friends.”

Brandon Gabriel has a long history with KPU and will now join the university as an artist-in-residence.

“Kwantlen Polytechnic University has a lifelong connection to my family,” says Gabriel. “My late grandfather, Grand Chief Joe Gabriel of the Kwantlen First Nation, gave permission to the founding post-secondary school ministerial authority to use our nation's namesake when I was just a small child.”

Gabriel is also the artist behind KPU’s coat of arms and he was a student for four years, studying fine arts, anthropology, and some marketing.

“I feel like I was born into the institution through my family's legacy. It grew, then I eventually became part of its student-body. Now, as an alumnus, I feel like the connection has strengthened over the years with my family's continuous relationship with KPU. So, this appointment means a lot to me in so many holistic ways,” he adds.

Gabriel describes his art as a fusion of Western and Coast Salish art styles. He says he uses Western colour theory while striving for Indigenous-centric social narratives and themes. He adds that his career has led to many opportunities to work in public education, reaching kids from kindergarten to high school. Now he’s ready to dive into the post-secondary world.

“KPU has a diverse range of students and staff, with exceptional skills and knowledge base, and interest in deep diving into complex social and political issues,” says Gabriel. “I would like to spend some time working on a project that allows me time to work on these more mature themes, that I would not have an opportunity to work on elsewhere.”

To learn more about all the Indigenous artists- and writers-in-residence, visit

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