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Striving for social justice

Francis P. Higgins Memorial Bursary recipient considers cultural knowledge a personal responsibility
June 8, 2020
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By Ursula Leonowicz, BA 97

Philippe Boucher “I don’t know exactly what I want to do, but I want to work towards social justice.”

As a non-Indigenous student pursuing an undergraduate degree in First Peoples Studies at Concordia, Philippe Boucher is aware he is an outsider.

“I’m at Concordia to learn, through friendship and partnership, which is something that matters to me a lot,” Boucher says. “Social justice became very important when I began to learn about the history of Indigenous peoples in Canada and residential schools. I realized there were a lot of things I didn’t know and felt I had the responsibility to know, so I really wanted to learn more and share this knowledge.”

Though Boucher grew up in Île-Bizard in a mostly francophone environment, he applied to Concordia for his studies. In addition to perfecting his English with the support of his professors, Boucher — who recently returned from an exchange in Finland — also studied Inuktitut while at Concordia to help prepare to work in Northern Labrador.

As a recipient of the Francis P. Higgins Memorial Bursary, Boucher is grateful for the support that gave him a bit more stability.

“Having this bursary allows me to make decisions that aren’t just based on finances, but on what I actually want to do. It helps to remove some of the financial constraints, which gives me more freedom, in a way.”

“I’m at Concordia to learn, through friendship and partnership, which is something that matters to me a lot.”

An active community member

Boucher has been involved with the Indigenous community in Montreal for a couple of years and has also worked in a community in Nunavik, in Northern Quebec, as well as in Northern Labrador over the past two summers.

He’s also been greatly involved at the university — as former co-president of the First Peoples Studies Member Association, and also with First Voices Week, and StartUP Nations. He was additionally chosen to be a Spark! ambassador for student engagement by the Concordia Council of Student Life.

For his efforts, Boucher was awarded a 2020 Quebec Lieutenant Governor’s Youth Medal. The prestigious prize recognizes the involvement and determination of Quebecers who positively influence their community.

Boucher, who eventually sees himself becoming a researcher, would also like to take on a role in the prison system, “to help make it a more supportive system,” he says.

“I don’t know exactly what I want to do, but I want to work towards social justice.”



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