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Concordia grad fights inequity with $25,000 gift for Indigenous-student scholarships

‘My goal is to create opportunities and provide people with resources outside their immediate environment,’ says Inder Arya
April 17, 2023
By Damon van der Linde, BA 08

Against a white background, a head and shoulders shot of a man with short dark hair, wearing a dark blue suit, white shirt and blue tie with white stripes Inder Arya, BA 92

Even before he majored in history at Concordia, Inder Arya, BA 92, felt conflicted about Canada and its history.

After arriving from India as a child, Arya felt welcomed overall in his new home and saw opportunities for immigrants to succeed. But this impression contrasted starkly with what he saw of the historical injustices and present-day inequity between Canada’s Indigenous and settler populations.

“It always stood out that there was a dichotomy between this beautiful, open country and how Indigenous people were treated,” says the senior portfolio manager and investment advisor at Arya Private Wealth of RBC Dominion Securities. “As I got older, I realized I could help.”

Seeing a strong need and tremendous value in improving opportunities for Indigenous people, he recently established the Inder Arya Scholarships for Indigenous Students at the John Molson School of Business, with a $25,000 gift to the Campaign for Concordia: Next-Gen Now.

“I worked while studying at Concordia, but I also received loans and bursaries,” he says. “Every little bit helps.”

Investing in a ‘well-rounded life’

After graduation, Arya’s father and brother noticed his aptitude for finance and encouraged him to learn about investing. He took their advice and immersed himself in the field by working as an investment advisor.

“My family helped teach me that understanding finance and investing is an element of a well-rounded life,” he says.

Through this experience, he quickly leapt from financial literacy to expertise, enjoying the intellectual challenge of making wise investments. “It’s like playing chess. There are different pieces and different moves. When we’re right, it feels terrific.”

Arya discovered that his knowledge of how history unfolds and is interpreted provided an ideal foundation for his investment style. He points to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and its economic impacts on Europe as an example of how major world events impact financial markets.

“The beauty of understanding history is seeing that it follows a narrative,” he says. “I interpret market events through macro, high-level views of where things are going over the coming months or years.”

It was the birth of his twins nearly two decades ago that catalyzed Arya’s mission to positively impact the world, both within and beyond his work. As a prominent member of the Canadian investment community, Arya and his team mostly manage the money of individual high-net-worth investors. These long-term personal connections have instilled in him a profound sense of responsibility for his clients’ well-being.

“I’ve become a part of people’s lives in a significant way,” he says. “It feels amazing to know clients appreciate what I have done to help them reach their goals and support their families.”

‘Concordia helped make me who I am’

Arya strongly supports financial education, serving as a judge on the John Molson Undergraduate Case Competition and the Van Berkom John Molson Small-Cap Case Competition.

“Case competitions are fantastic learning opportunities. Students first present their analyses to the judges for feedback. When they return the next day, the improvements are staggering,” he says.

He is also a founding sponsor of Concordia’s Project InStep, a series of workshops for Indigenous CEGEP students and adults to learn about entrepreneurship at John Molson. “I strongly support broader access to financial education,” he says.

The university made such an impression on him as a student that Arya has remained engaged over the years as a volunteer, occasional guest lecturer and donor. “I love the idea of an urban university with its origins teaching evening classes for people who worked during the day,” he says. “Concordia has added so much to the fabric of the city in so many ways.”

Arya recalls the quality of Concordia’s faculty, notably Martin Singer, professor emeritus in the Department of History and former provost and vice-president, Academic Affairs. “I can still hear his voice when I'm walking through a museum or a gallery,” Arya reminisces. “Concordia helped make me who I am,” he says.

He notes that while studying the past helped him succeed as an investor, it also revealed his power to contribute to a more just and equal world for future generations.

“The way to teach good values is to model them,” says Arya. “My goal is to create opportunities and provide people with resources outside their immediate environment, whatever they might need.”

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