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What does it really mean to be an ally?

Being an ally means disrupting oppressive spaces and places. It is understanding the struggle of oppressed people and how that oppression operates in order to end it through action. Allyship requires self-reflection on one’s own privilege as well as one’s role in oppression. Allyship is a process rather than a destination; it requires continual learning and self-awareness. It means recognizing there is work to be done and understanding one’s responsibilities in that work.

Being an ally comes with profound responsibilities. These responsibilities, although challenging, are filled with hope and opportunity. It is important as you take the journey of reconciliation that you understand what it means to be a responsible ally and to continually critique your role as one.

Dr. Lynn Gehl has developed, from an Indigenous perspective, an extensive list of what it means for non-Indigenous people to be responsible allies.

Ally Bill of Responsibilities

As you consider the Ally Bill of Responsibilities, which statements resonate with you the most? What fears, anxieties, or apprehensions might you have about your responsibilities as an ally?

labrador tea
Labrador Tea

The first two points are:

  1. Do not act out of guilt, but rather out of a genuine interest in challenging the larger oppressive power structures;
  2. Understand that they are secondary to the Indigenous people that they are working with and that they seek to serve. They and their needs must take a back seat;

Download PDF of Ally Bill of Responsibilities


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