Allyship and Inclusion at the Faculty of Medicine

What Does it Mean to Be an Ally?

In her highly recommended book, On Becoming an Ally: Breaking the Cycle of Oppression in People (Fernwood Publishing, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 2001, Second Edition), Anne Bishop defines an ally in this way:

An ally is someone who recognizes the unearned privilege they receive from society’s patterns of injustice and takes responsibility for changing these patterns.

Allyship Means Being Self-Reflective

Part of becoming an ally is recognizing our own experience of oppression, and how it can inform recognizing and addressing oppressions faced by other groups.  For example, a white woman can learn from her experience of sexism and apply it in becoming an ally to racialized people.

Allyship Means Standing Up for Others

Allies stand up for others, including their peers and colleagues, when they witness discrimination, harassment and/or offensive comments and/or conduct by others.  For example, allies include members of all faiths, religions and belief systems who work to challenge and put a stop to Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and other forms of religious oppression in our communities.

Allyship Helps to Create More Inclusive Organizations

Allyship in an organization helps to build safer, more respectful communities.  When those who are marginalized witness that they are supported by others who are willing to speak up alongside them, they know that the community is working together to be more inclusive and equitable.

What Are the Qualities of an Ally?

Below is a list of some of the qualities that allies possess:

  • Self-Reflective  
  • Empathetic
  • Willing to take risks
  • Willing to keep learning and stay informed
  • Ready to listen to others’ experiences
  • Open to new ideas and perspectives
  • Willing to make mistakes and keep trying to do the right thing
  • Able to identify and respond to oppression

How Can We Be Allies to One Another?

Allies acknowledge that there are injustices in society and that those who have been given more power and privilege based on their identities have a responsibility to respond to any form of oppression in our communities.

Examples of how we can be an ally include the following:

  • Be aware of and vigilant of your own prejudices
  • Avoid making assumptions about a person’s behaviour and identity based on their appearance
  • Question stereotypes and negative assumptions made by others
  • Speak up when you hear demeaning jokes, offensive or stereotypical remarks, and/or discriminatory/harassing comments
  • Discourage the use of disrespectful or derogatory language used to describe individuals and groups
  • Challenge practices, policies and procedures that may create barriers for specific individuals and groups
  • Support colleagues, peers, friends and family who experience discrimination and/or harassment
  • Actively speak out against discrimination within your networks and circles
  • Join collective social justice movements in your communities that work towards creating systemic change to dismantle oppression

We encourage the Faculty of Medicine community to work together in solidarity to be allies to one another.


If you would like to access further information and/or resources on how to be an ally please contact the Faculty of Medicine’s Diversity Team:

Dr. Lisa Robinson, Chief Diversity Officer (

Anita Balakrishna, Diversity Strategist (


NOTE:  The above material was modified from the following sources:

Dufferin Diversity Network –

Mount Sinai Hospital’s Human Rights and Health Equity Office -

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