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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.

Learn more about Indigenous Education and Cultural Services

Oppression, Discrimination, and Prejudice

June 16, 2022

What is oppression?

Oppression is the use of power to disempower, marginalize, silence, or otherwise subordinate one social group or category, often to further empower and/or privilege the oppressor. It is the weight of discrimination and prejudices on those who it affects. You can not claim to fully understand oppression if you have not experienced oppression yourself. We can aim to learn more and listen to those who have been oppressed, but we must follow them when discussing this issue.

What is discrimination?

Discrimination is the act of making unjustified distinctions between people based on the groups, classes, or other categories to which they belong or are perceived to belong. It is when someone can not enjoy their rights on an equal basis with others due to an unjust distinction made by someone else.

How Discrimination Can Affect People

Discrimination can even be seen as a Public Health issue. People who face high levels of discrimination have higher levels of stress and anxiety. Chronic stress can then lead to more serious health issues including anxiety, depression, obesity, high blood pressure, and substance abuse. People may avoid situations due to the perceived threat of discrimination causing them to miss important opportunities.

What is prejudice?

Prejudices are internally held biases. They are preconceived opinions and emotions we have regarding an individual or group, and they can be good or bad. Prejudices are often unconscious, and we are often unaware of our biases or fail to realize the preconceptions that are influencing us.

The first step in fighting prejudice is to recognize them and acknowledge that you have them. The next step is to not let your prejudice affect your behaviours and decisions; this is what leads to discrimination against others. Lastly, oppose those who do allow their biases and prejudices to determine their actions.

What can we do?

Break the cycle!

Reflect on your own biases, stereotypes, and prejudices, are they influencing your thoughts and/or actions? If they are, ask yourself why? Then reflect and learn more about why this is. Stand up to others and call them in when needed. It can be hard to call in others especially if they are friends or family but it is the only way some people will learn and grow. Listen to those who experience oppression and learn from them.

Challenge everyday discrimination that you witness, talk to people, and start those difficult conversations. Challenge your standing in the world and the power imbalances that exist.


By Beverly Wirkkunen