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Global outlook with a community focus

Aiden Cyr is the first Indigenous Canadian to be awarded a Schwarzman Scholarship
May 1, 2023

Aiden Cyr wears a dark blue blazer over a dress shirt Aiden Cyr was awarded a Schwarzman Scholarship to complete a one-year master’s program in global affairs at Beijing's Tsinghua University.

For Aiden Cyr, BA 22, community is everything.

Born in St. Norbert, Manitoba, a suburb of Winnipeg, the alumnus and Schwarzman Scholar is a proud member of the Manitoba Métis Federation who has sought to broaden his worldview through exposure to different places and cultures.

This led Cyr to enrol at the School of Community and Public Affairs (SCPA) in 2018.

“Concordia had a practical approach, with students tackling complex policy issues in small classroom settings, taught by practitioners and academics from around the world,” Cyr recalls. “My classmates were activists, grassroots organizers, aspiring lawyers and politicians. People had a lot of different reasons for being in the program.”

In the library and meeting rooms of the SCPA building on Sir George Williams Campus, Cyr and his fellow students studied and planned activist campaigns, including a strike against unpaid internships.

The First Peoples Studies program offered through the SCPA also made Cyr feel more at home — “I could hear the drumming and singing in class,” he says — and demonstrated Concordia’s commitment to Indigenous scholarship.

He also fondly remembers the special graduation ceremony put on by Concordia’s Otsenhákta Student Centre, a resource for First Nations, Inuit and Métis students.

“It was incredible having this space for times when I missed my home and my culture,” he says.

As the recipient of a Chadha Family Scholarship, Cyr also benefited from donor support that enabled him to better focus on his coursework and to find time to enjoy extracurriculars like intramural basketball and volleyball.

Off campus, Cyr worked as a parliamentary research assistant for the Senate of Canada, served as a National Youth Ambassador for the Moose Hide Campaign — an Indigenous-led movement to raise awareness about the perils of domestic and genderbased violence — and travelled to Madrid to talk about climate change with global experts at COP25 in 2019.

Now, as one of a few hundred students from around the world to be awarded a prestigious Schwarzman Scholarship, Cyr is in Beijing to complete a one-year master’s program in global affairs at Tsinghua University. He’s the first Indigenous Canadian in the history of the program.

“If I’m going to impact the world in the way that I want to, I need a better understanding of China,” he says. “Especially in the political realm, there is little chance that any work I do in the future would not focus heavily on the country.”

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