Meet CIS Alumnus: Amanda Zhang

July 14, 2023 by Alexandra Pennell

Name: Amanda Zhang

Background: Chinese-Canadian, Scarborough  

Graduate Year: 2023

Areas of Interest: Indigenous Education, Environmental Education, Indigenous Knowledge Systems

What drew you to our program? 

I have always shown an interest in Indigenous studies. I would like to be a teacher one day and so studying Indigenous studies has been a great way to learn more.


Which course was your favourite?  

My two favourite courses have both been taught by Professor Heather Dorries. JIG322H and INS250H combined my interests in academia. Professor Dorries is also a great professor. Her courses have been practical and applicable to life. They are also semina and discussion based which I enjoyed.


In what ways has your time in our program helped your career?  

As both a settler and an aspiring future educator in the field of Indigenous Education, the Indigenous Studies program at UofT has taught me a lot about my positionality in the field, re-thinking education, and the importance of culturally relevant, outdoor, and experiential learning. In my last semester, I completed an internship at an Aboriginal all-girls boarding school in Australia, where I was able to put theories into practice and work more consciously and critically, given my background on our shared colonial histories and our mirroring present-day pushes for resurgence. I have also just begun the Waaban Indigenous Teacher Education (B.Ed) program, and already feel how my time at UofT fuels, and aligns with, the work for a better tomorrow - for all. Overall, I will always be grateful for the teachings I get to carry with me into the future of my practice. Didi (Mgarinman). Miikwehc (Anishinaabemowin). 多谢 (Cantonese). Thank you (English). 


In what ways were you involved with Indigenous Studies at UofT? 

As a student, I have taken a lot of different Indigenous Studies course. I was also a part of the ISSU. I have attended many events, especially at First Nations House. I remember participating in the weekly beading workshops and powwows. I participated in some of the feasts at CIS. I also got to lead an self-care initiattive for students to get kits and could pay as much as they can. 


What would you say to a prospective student interested in our program? 

You should definitely join our program! You will view education as a whole differently. You will end up letting go of what you thought you knew and learning so much more. Indigenous Studies is very personal and reflective as well.