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One Country, Many Stories

Winnipeg holds the record for the largest Canada Day living flag. And each person in red or white brings with them a personal connection to this land.

For entrepreneur Shawn Qu [MSc/90], Canada is where he learned to ride a bike—on ice.

“At 20 years old, you don’t really feel the cold,” recalls Beijing-born Qu.

As a cash-strapped physics student at the University of Manitoba three decades ago, a bike was how he got to the grocery store, no matter the weather, before scrounging together enough money to buy a car—another milestone achieved in Canada.

“Those are very fond memories,” says Qu, who went on to launch multi-billion-dollar company Canadian Solar. (Read his take on the future of energy)

He was among the first students to come to Canada once China lifted restrictions on studying abroad in 1987. His teaching job at a Beijing college paid a paltry $30 a month, which meant without the scholarship he received from the U of M, even a plane ticket would have been out of reach.

“It was a very big deal.”

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