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


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

Dufferin Diversity Network –

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


Some Key Allyship Terms

An integrated pattern of learned core values, beliefs, norms, behaviors and customs that are shared and transmitted by a specific group of people. Some aspects of culture, such as food, clothing, modes of production and behaviors, are visible. Major aspects of culture, such as values, gender role definitions, health beliefs and worldview, are not visible.[1]

Diversity embodies inclusiveness, mutual respect, multiple perspectives, and serves as a catalyst for change resulting in health equity. In this context, we are mindful of all aspects of human differences such as socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, language, nationality, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, geography, disability, and age.[2]

Implies fairness, impartiality, even-handedness. A distinct process of recognizing differences within groups of individuals, and using this understanding to achieve substantive equatlity in all aspects of a person’s life.[3]

Equity-Seeking Groups
Groups who have been historically disadvantaged and excluded from institutions and decision-making as a result of colonialism and systemic sexism, racism, ableism, homophobia and transphobia. Includes women, those who identify as racialized, Indigenous people, persons with disabilities, and those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (sic).[4]

Inclusion is a core element for successfully achieving diversity. Inclusion is achieved by nurturing the climate and culture of the institution through professional development, education, policy, and practice. The objective is to create a climate that fosters belonging, respect, and value for all and encourage engagement and connection throughout the institution and community.[5]

Encompasses the broad range of students who participate in the Faculty of Medicine’s programs, including prospective medical students (e.g. high school students who participate in the faculty’s Summer Mentorship Program, undergraduate students in the faculty’s Community of Support Program), undergraduate medical students, graduate students, residents, fellows, post-doctoral fellows, and other trainees. Learners also include faculty members who are engaged in a variety of teaching, research, and administrative activities.

Under-represented minorities
Underrepresented in the Faculty of Medicine means those racial and ethnic populations that are underrepresented in the medical, occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech language pathology professions. The concept can be expanded to include other forms of diversity, including but not limited to people with disabilities, LGBTQ+, gender identity, age, socio-economic status etc.[6]


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

  1. Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Group on Diversity and Inclusion:
  2. Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Group on Diversity and Inclusion:
  3.  Ontario Human Rights Commission Appendix 1: Glossary of Human Rights Terms:
  4.  Canadian Association of University Teachers Equity Review, 2007:
  5. Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Group on Diversity and Inclusion:
  6. Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Group on Diversity and Inclusion:



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

Dr. Lisa Robinson, Chief Diversity Officer (

Anita Balakrishna, Diversity Strategist (



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