Trailblazers x uOttawa: Hoda Ahmed, BEd '20, on bringing inclusive education to Ottawa classrooms

Posted on Wednesday, February 9, 2022

When Tiyahna Ridley-Padmore, BScSoc, and Merryl-Royce Ndema-Moussa, BSc, published their children’s book, Trailblazers: The Black Pioneers Who Have Shaped Canada, the uOttawa alumni brought to light 40 stories of Canada’s Black history that have for too long remained undertold. This February, we’ve teamed up with Ridley-Padmore and Ndema-Moussa to celebrate Black History Month and create new portraits and poems of four Black uOttawa alumni who have made a significant mark on the University.

Meet Hoda Ahmed :

illustration of Hoda Ahmed wearing glasses

Hoda is a teacher,  

a sister, daughter, and a friend.  

She’s loving and supportive,  

someone on whom people can depend.  


She founded a collective  

for teacher candidates of colour.  

It focuses on decolonizing education,  

and supporting one another.  


Beyond supporting teachers, 

Hoda plays another part --  

’cause when it comes to education, 

inspiring children has her heart.  


Her lessons and activities 

are both hands-on and fun,  

They’re also equitable, anti-racist,  

and cover everyone.  


From her patience and her empathy 

to her quite inclusive exploration,  

more children can attain their dreams   

because of Hoda’s dedication. 


Portrait of Hoda Ahmed

As a teacher to first-grade students, Hoda Ahmed, BEd '20, fields a lot of curious questions prompted by her being both visibly Black and Muslim. Take her hijab, for example: “Somebody in my class said, ‘she’s a mom, all moms wear hijabs, my mom wears one.’ I had to laugh. Kids have their own understanding of things.” 

In addition to teaching, Ahmed is a master’s student in uOttawa’s Faculty of Education. She also holds a pair of bachelor’s degrees from uOttawa: one in linguistics, the other in education.  

Ahmed says her identity as a Black Muslim woman has shaped her experience as both a teacher and a teacher candidate. Ahmed champions representation among her young students, and is at the forefront of addressing equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) within the uOttawa community. “As we make progress [towards EDI], there’s this growing backlash wondering why we can’t do things the way we’ve always done them”, says Ahmed. “I really saw that at the Faculty of Education. There can be this resistance when you’re teaching how to teach in a manner that’s inclusive. I think some of it is just not understanding why it’s important to teach about things even if your students don’t necessarily live that experience.” Ahmed gives the example of teacher candidates wondering if they should celebrate Black History Month if they don’t have Black students in their class: “The idea is, well yes, it’s important for everyone because they might not get exposure otherwise. It’s this idea of opening windows to other peoples’ lives.” 

In 2019, Ahmed joined forces with other uOttawa peers to create the Teacher Candidates of Colour (TCC) Collective. In the time since, the group has developed several workshops for teacher candidates, graduate students, professors and educators from Ottawa school boards. Topics include anti-racism, teaching Indigenous histories, Black Canadian counternarratives, cultural appropriation, and more. “When you find a group of people who are like-minded and willing to ask those tricky questions, plan those events, and take it all the way up the chain, you feel like you can do anything”, says Ahmed. “The TCC Collective taught me that if you’re organized, respectful in your approach, and have evidence, a small group can make a big change.” 

Back to top