Individual-level interactions

Practicing critical self-reflection brings awareness to how our identity and positions influence our individual level interactions and creates opportunities to consider how we can better support students.

How can we support students in feeling safe from experiences of discrimination and violence?

Acts of discrimination and violence are often motivated by stigma, which is a negative stereotype about others based on culture, race, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental health, and other aspects of identity. Stigma is often visible through our use of language.

  • Language that carries assumptions about an aspect of their identity may result in labels that discourage students from seeking help. When interacting with a student, reflect back the language that they have used in describing their experiences.
  • When interacting with a member of an Indigenous community, acknowledge that you are a guest on this land. While “Indigenous” and “Aboriginal” are terms used to define the original inhabitants of colonized countries; in Canada, they include First Nations, Métis, and Inuit. Although “Indigenous” is the favoured term, it is more respectful to be specific about the Nation you are referring to and use the term they use to self-identify.[1]Montreal Urban Aboriginal Community Strategy Network. (2019). Indigenous Ally Toolkit. Retrieved from http://reseaumtlnetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Ally_ March.pdf
  • Some terms that are more inclusive and preferred are “people first” language, i.e. instead of “substance user,” it is preferable to say, “person who uses substances.” When in doubt, it is always better to ask how they would prefer to be identified.

Mindful language

People first language is non-stigmatizing and refers to using neutral language that focuses on the individual. For more information and examples on how to use person first language, click here.


How can we support students in feeling socially included?

Social inclusion is a thoughtful and intentional process, requiring individuals to consider how students’ experiences have impacted their ability to connect with others and their educational experiences. The degree to which students feel comfortable in the learning environment depends on the congruence between their cultural background and the dominant culture of the educational institution.

  • Acknowledge the diversity that students bring. It is important that instructors become aware of the ways in which traditional classroom culture excludes or constrains learning for some students and learn how to create environments that encourage sharing.
  • Creating feelings of social inclusion requires an awareness of the oppressive forces and inequities they experience and a commitment to forming allyships.

Being an Ally

Being an ally requires us to be honest about our own relationship with oppression, and actively resist oppressive forces.[2]Thomas, L. & Chandrasekera, U. (2014). Uncovering What Lies Beneath: An Examination of Power, Privilege, and Racialization in International Social Work. Chapter 5, as found in Globetrotting or Global Citizenship? Perils and Potential of International Experiential Learning, edited by Tiessen, R. & Huish, R. University of Toronto Press: Toronto, Canada. For more information on allyship, refer to the Indigenous Ally Toolkit[3]Montreal Urban Aboriginal Community Strategy Network. (2019). Indigenous Ally Toolkit. Retrieved from http://reseaumtlnetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Ally_ March.pdf and LGBTQ2S+ Ally Toolkit[4]Egale. (2015). How To Be An LGBTQI2S Ally. Retrieved from: https://egale.ca/awareness/how-to-be-an-lgbtq-ally/


How can we support students in accessing resources?

Access to resources requires a consideration of the historical context that different cultures have faced. Building awareness of the histories that students come with is part of the process of reconciliation, which involves developing a respectful relationship between cultures. In the case of Indigenous students, reconciliation is discussed as between Indigenous and settler people working together to overcome the devastating effects of colonization. Examples of how you can support the process of reconciliation include exploring how your own space can become more inclusive and respectful. When decisions are being made among groups of people, consider how you can embed equity.[5]Cull, I., Hancock, R. L. A., McKeown, S., Pidgeon, M. & Vedan, A. (2018). Front-Line Staff, Student Services, and Advisors Pulling Together: A Guide for Indigenization of Post-Secondary Institutions. Retrieved from https://opentextbc.ca/indigenizationfrontlineworkers/

References

Montreal Urban Aboriginal Community Strategy Network. (2019). Indigenous Ally Toolkit. Retrieved from http://reseaumtlnetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Ally_ March.pdf
Thomas, L. & Chandrasekera, U. (2014). Uncovering What Lies Beneath: An Examination of Power, Privilege, and Racialization in International Social Work. Chapter 5, as found in Globetrotting or Global Citizenship? Perils and Potential of International Experiential Learning, edited by Tiessen, R. & Huish, R. University of Toronto Press: Toronto, Canada.
Egale. (2015). How To Be An LGBTQI2S Ally. Retrieved from: https://egale.ca/awareness/how-to-be-an-lgbtq-ally/
Cull, I., Hancock, R. L. A., McKeown, S., Pidgeon, M. & Vedan, A. (2018). Front-Line Staff, Student Services, and Advisors Pulling Together: A Guide for Indigenization of Post-Secondary Institutions. Retrieved from https://opentextbc.ca/indigenizationfrontlineworkers/
Guide: PDF Version