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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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Guide to being an ally

July 22, 2020

In light of recent protests against police brutality, there has been dialogue centred around what it means to be an ally and applying anti-racism in everyday life. While these protests are a direct result of the wrongful killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, it is also an expression of centuries of systemic racism and oppression endured in America, Canada, and around the world. It is a time when people are saying enough is enough. It is important that we do not remain silent while all of this is unfolding around us. Instead, we all need to use our voices and our platforms to help dismantle the system. By no means am I an expert, I am constantly learning myself so, below I have compiled a list of resources that I have found helpful that incorporate things that can be done every day as an ally:

Recognize your privilege

Understanding white privilege is crucial in realizing how race can determine the outcomes of one’s life. In “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism” by Robin DiAngelo, she discusses how having these uncomfortable conversations about white privilege is fundamental in understanding how racism works. So, in order to do that, we must educate ourselves and those around us. [1] 

Listen and pay attention 

Pass the microphone over and amplify the voice of Black people. Let them talk about their grievances while we listen. In these moments, take the time to make notes of the discussion. Pay attention to how their oppression and injustice is often discredited, minimized and justified by the oppressor. Then, vow to take action that is lifelong. [2]

Do your research 

It is unfair to ask Black people to start conversations about their very real lived experiences associated with racism. It is our responsibility to do our own homework. Now is not the time to place any feelings of discomfort onto Black individuals and hope that they will comfort and bring us to terms with the guilt, while they are exhausted themselves. It is about sitting with this discomfort and working through it. If you have not already, start exploring our history and becoming familiar with where this privilege came from to better understand where we should be going. Start conversations with the people in your life about anti-racism. Discuss current events that bring to light the inequality that still exists today. It is important to note that to truly advocate, it means to have difficult conversations with individuals that go beyond your level of awareness. So, while it may mess up your dinner plans, a conversation that makes you uncomfortable, is a conversation worth exploring. 

A part of doing research is educating yourself on the literature and films out there written and directed by Black individuals. These core materials lay the foundation for understanding the history of racial injustice. There are some great resources outlined in “Ways you can participate in the Black Lives Matter movement” written by Sylvia Harnarain on the Digital Community. [3] 

Attend a protest (if you're able)

If you are able to get out there and protest, do so safely. Take the necessary precautions to ensure health measures are taken. Listen to the leaders of the organizations and follow the steps they lay out. One way we can use our privilege at a protest is to place ourselves between the police and the Black protestors to ensure that the police will not harm them. We can also insert ourselves in situations where police are confronting a Black individual and offer help. Stay with them, ask if they need help and do not leave until you are sure they are okay. This is a practice that can be extended into everyday life.

If you are considering taking photos of the protest, avoid taking any photos that may have people’s faces or identification markers in it. This can ensure that you are not putting anyone in harm's way. Instead, consider blurring out the faces and identification marks before you make your post [4]

Spread awareness online

If you are unable to attend a protest, there are plenty of ways to use social media to spread awareness. Given that we are all currently at home, we have a bit of time on our hands to use our platforms to amplify Black voices, Black-owned businesses and Black-owned restaurants. Here are some posts to check out: 

Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint. Plan to continue to dedicate your energy and funds into locally Black-owned businesses once the tide settles. Get involved with local organizations that work on anti-racism (bonus if they also deal with anti-sexism, anti-homophobia and anti-transphobia). 

Call upon the government

In addition to sharing resources and spreading awareness, here's an extra step we can take to use our voices. We can call on our government - local, provincial and federal - to bring justice and change. You can find resources and communication templates on defund.ca. Here is a list of government officials you can contact: 

  • Mayor John Tory (or contact your local mayor/MPP) 

“I understand that I will never understand, however, I stand”

References 

By Nadia Zarei