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Ontario Tech acknowledges the lands and people of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.

We are thankful to be welcome on these lands in friendship. The lands we are situated on are covered by the Williams Treaties and are the traditional territory of the Mississaugas, a branch of the greater Anishinaabeg Nation, including Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi. These lands remain home to many Indigenous nations and peoples.

We acknowledge this land out of respect for the Indigenous nations who have cared for Turtle Island, also called North America, from before the arrival of settler peoples until this day. Most importantly, we acknowledge that the history of these lands has been tainted by poor treatment and a lack of friendship with the First Nations who call them home.

This history is something we are all affected by because we are all treaty people in Canada. We all have a shared history to reflect on, and each of us is affected by this history in different ways. Our past defines our present, but if we move forward as friends and allies, then it does not have to define our future.

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Allyship: Addressing your privilege

June 10, 2022

What is Privilege?

Privilege is a set of unearned benefits given to people who fit into a specific social group. Privilege is the opposite of oppression. It is often much harder to recognize than oppression. Being mistreated is often easier for people to notice than being treated equitably. Remember that privileged groups typically have power over the groups being oppressed. It is important to know that you could have experienced oppression and also experience privilege in other aspects of your life. Although privilege is often thought of as a special advantage it is a right that everyone should have.


First Steps

The first step to becoming an ally is to address and acknowledge your privilege. Reparations will begin once people can take accountability and educate themselves. Efforts to better understand your privilege are the best way to dismantle oppressive systems and attitudes. Think of challenging your privilege as an ongoing practice in your life, always willing to do more.

It is important to understand that you cannot expect the 2SLGBTQ+ community to educate you, that is your responsibility. It’s okay not to know everything! But if you are unaware, do the research and educate yourself when you can. Make sure never to give or relay false information; confirm with a reliable source if you don’t know. Look inwards at your prejudices and challenge them, as well as others when you come across them. It can be hard to acknowledge your own biases, but it is extremely important to do so and will reflect personal growth.


Understand It's not “Just a Phase”

Be careful with the language you use. Saying “it’s just a phase” can be extremely harmful to the community and it is more often than not FALSE. This makes it very difficult for people who are trying to open up and can discourage further disclosure. Even if they do change their mind and identify with another label this is perfectly fine. Sexuality and gender are fluid and can always be changing.


“You Don’t Look Gay”

It is never okay to say this to anyone. It can be offensive and upsetting for someone to hear. “Gay” does not have a certain look or appearance. Everyone is unique and individual and does not have to look a certain way to identify how they want. This enforces a stereotype that gay people look a specific way which is not the case, as is the same with any other group of people.


Recognize Their Struggles

It is essential as an ally to recognize the struggles that the 2SLGBTQ+ community has gone through and that you will not experience these struggles. It does not mean that you have not struggled in your life, just that your sexuality or gender identity has not been one of the reasons. It is also important to acknowledge the opportunities that are denied to 2SLGBTQ+ people. Once you have done this you can start to advocate for change.


Why Bother Checking Your Privilege?

Things will never become better if people with privilege continue to ignore it. Until those who have the privilege can recognize that they are at an advantage, things will remain the same. They will be allowing inequity to happen every day unless they can make the change. If someone calls you out, do not take it personally. Use it as a moment to reflect on why it has hurt someone and what you can do next time.

By Beverly Wirkkunen