Concordian Aiden Cyr receives the Schwarzman Scholarship to study global affairs in Beijing
Concordian Aiden Cyr is among the few hundred students from around the world to receive this year’s prestigious Schwarzman Scholarship.
The fourth-year student is completing a double major in Community, Public Affairs and Policy Studies. In August he will join his peers for a one-year, fully funded master’s program in global affairs hosted by Tsinghua University in Beijing, China.
Cyr has combined a highly successful academic career at Concordia with impactful work and volunteer experience in the areas of climate change, Indigenous rights and gender-based violence.
‘From an early age I could see the impact of good policy development’
What attracted you to the area of public affairs and political science and why did you choose Concordia?
Aiden Cyr: I am Red River Métis from the White Horse Plains area of Southern Manitoba, the traditional Buffalo Hunt staging grounds. As an Indigenous person, you are immersed in politics from the get-go. I am inspired by my dad, who worked closely with the government and community as a negotiator and led not-for-profit organizations like the National Association of Friendship Centres. From an early age I could see the impact of what good policy development could do for communities.
When it came time to pursuing my postsecondary education, I chose Concordia because of the School of Community and Public Affairs (SCPA). I liked that it was multidisciplinary, and I was drawn to their philosophy of building up communities and understanding the power structures that impact our daily lives.
In the end it delivered these elements. I’ve explored the nuances between numerous disciplines such as economics and philosophy and by incorporating my activism into my studies I have been able to strengthen my theory of change. My political science major gave me an excellent theoretical foundation while the SCPA taught me how to think differently about challenging contemporary issues.
Beyond your academics, your volunteer and work experience has helped tackle some really important issues. Tell us about some of these.
AC: Focusing on Indigenous relations, particularly with regards to climate change and gender-based violence, has been my passion.
I worked as a National Youth Ambassador for the Moose Hide Campaign, which builds awareness to end gender-based violence against Indigenous and non-Indigenous women and children. I was also able to champion this cause when I worked as a parliamentary research assistant in the Senate of Canada as part of Senator Yvonne Boyer’s office.
On the volunteer front, I was selected as one of 10 Students on Ice expedition alumni to attend the 2019 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP25) in Madrid, Spain. My two-week educational expedition to the Canadian Arctic and Greenland empowered me to speak about climate change and reconciliation at the international level. I advocated for Indigenous environmental rights alongside other Indigenous youth at key events and upon meeting Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change.
What excites you the most about your upcoming journey to China through the Schwarzman Scholarship?
AC: China is a highly complex country and has a high degree of misperception. An inward look at the country will be invaluable as will be the opportunity to meet with young Chinese leaders. Getting to live and study alongside some of the world’s most inspiring and innovative young leaders will transform how I lead social change at a global level.
Find out more about Concordia’s School of Community and Public Affairs.
Learn more about the Schwarzman Scholarship.