Glossary of Terms

The Canadian Race Relations Foundation maintains a glossary with definitions of key concepts relevant to race relations, the promotion of Canadian identity, belonging and the mutuality of citizenship rights and responsibilities.

About the glossary

This list includes many of the terms commonly used in anti-racism and equity discourse today. They are gleaned from a variety of sources, most of which are listed below. Many of the terms have been in the public domain so long that the source of the original definition is no longer known as they have come into common parlance. The terminology in this field is constantly evolving, so the list remains a work in progress. Should any discrepancies arise during a training session or discussion, it is best to take a moment to determine the current understanding and why people may be more comfortable adding further definitions to the list in the present context. 

The Glossary has been adapted from the following sources

African Canadian Legal Clinic. (2004) Fact Sheet: What is Anti-Black Racism?

Chartand, P. (1992) “Terms of Division: Problems of ‘Outside-Naming’ for Aboriginal People in Canada. Journal of Indigenous Studies, 1.

Canadian Council for Refugees.

Council on Interracial Books for Children, New York

Endicott, Fran and Mukherjee, Alok, (1987) A Glossary of Terms developed for a workshop on anti-discriminatory organizational change.

Lee, E., (1985) Letters to Marcia: A Teacher’s Guide to Anti-racist Education, Cross Cultural Communication .Toronto.

Lockhart, A. R., (1986) Human Rights Training, Ontario Ministry of Correctional Services. Toronto.

Mock, Karen R., (1988) Race Relations Training: A Manual for Practitioners and Consultants, Ontario Race Relations Directorate, Ministry of Citizenship, Toronto.

Mock, Karen R., (1992) A Glossary of Terms. Race and Ethnocultural Equity in the Justice System. Western Judicial Education Centre, Saskatoon.

Ontario Human Rights Commission. (2003) Paying the Price: The Human Cost of Racial Profiling. Toronto.

Ontario Ministry of Citizenship,(1988) Intercultural Communications Workshop.

Peel District School Board (2000) The Future We Want: Building an Inclusive Curriculum. Mississauga, Ontario.

Thomas, B., (1987) Multiculturalism at Work, YWCA of Metropolitan Toronto.

Toronto District School Board (2003) Teaching About Human Rights: 9/11 and Beyond. Field Test Edition.

University of Guelph (2002) Human Rights at the University of Guelph.

Wood, D., (1988) Cultural Heritage…Your Neighbourhood, Alberta Educational Communications Corp.

Youth Action Network,

Youth Environmental Network, Green Justice Resource Kit

Ontario’s Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy

University of Berkeley Gender Equity Resource Centre

Dancing on Live Embers: Challenging Racism in Organizations by Tina Lopes & Barb Thomas

People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond

EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism


Term (alphabetical order)Description
AbleismA belief system that sees persons with disabilities as being less worthy of respect and consideration, less able to contribute and participate, or of less inherent value than others. Ableism may be conscious or unconscious, and may be embedded in institutions, systems or the broader culture of a society. It can limit the opportunities of persons with disabilities and reduce their inclusion in the life of their communities.
Aboriginal PeoplesThe descendants of the original inhabitants of North America. “Aboriginal Peoples” can be used to collectively describe three groups recognized in the Consitution Act, 1982: First Nation/Indians, Inuit, and Métis”. These are separate peoples with unique histories, languages, cultural practices, spiritual beliefs, and political goals. The word “Aboriginal” is an umbrella term for all three peoples, and is not interchangeable with “First Nations” but can be used interchangeably with “Indigenous peoples”, a collective name for the original peoples of North America and their descendants. It should also not be used when referring to only one or two of the three recognized groups.
Aboriginal RightsAboriginal rights refer to practices, traditions and customs that distinguish the unique culture of each First Nation and were practiced prior to European contact; rights that Aboriginal peoples of Canada hold as a result of long-standing ancestral use and occupancy of the land. Examples include the right to hunt, trap, and fish on ancestral lands. Aboriginal rights will vary from group to group depending on the customs, practices, and traditions that have formed their distinctive cultures. Aboriginal rights are protected under s.35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
Aboriginal Self-GovernmentAboriginal self-government is the formal structure through which communities may control the administration of their people, land, resources, and related programs and policies, through agreements with federal and provincial governments. Self-government agreements address: the structure and accountability of Aboriginal governments, their law-making powers, financial arrangements, and their responsibilities for providing programs and services to their members. Self-government enables Aboriginal governments to work in partnership with other governments and the private sector to promote economic development and improve social conditions.
Aboriginal TitleA legal term that recognizes the inherent Aboriginal right to land or a territory. The Canadian legal system recognizes Aboriginal title as a sui generis, or unique collective right to the use of and jurisdiction over a group’s ancestral territories.
AcceptanceAffirmation and recognition of those whose race, religion, nationality, values, beliefs, etc. are different from one’s own. Acceptance goes beyond ‘tolerance’ which represents a “coming to terms” with difference rather than an embrace or approval of it.
AcculturationThe process where culture, values and patterns of a new or different culture are adopted by a person or an ethnic, social, religious, language or national group while still retaining elements of the original culture, values and traditions – both majority and minority cultures can be susceptible to this process. Acculturation is typically tied to political conquest or expansion.
Adverse ImpactThe impact, whether intended or not, of employment practices that disproportionately affect groups such as visible minorities and women. Though a practice may appear neutral, it has a discriminatory effect on groups protected by human rights and/or employment legislation.
Affirmative ActionAn active effort to improve the employment or educational opportunities of members of minority groups and women through explicit actions, policies or programs.

See “Employment Equity”
AgeismAgeism refers to two concepts: a socially constructed way of thinking about older persons based on negative attitudes and stereotypes about aging and a tendency to structure society based on an assumption that everyone is young, thereby failing to respond appropriately to the real needs of older persons. Ageism also includes discrimination that is more systemic in nature, such as in the design and implementation of services, programs and facilities.  Age discrimination involves treating persons in an unequal fashion due to age in a way that is contrary to human rights law.
AllyA member of a different group who works to end a form of discrimination for a particular individual or designated group.
AncestryA line of people from whom one is descended; family or ethnic descent.
Anti-Black RacismPolicies and practices rooted in Canadian institutions such as, education, health care, and justice that mirror and reinforce beliefs, attitudes, prejudice, stereotyping and/or discrimination towards people of African descent.
Anti-OppressionStrategies, theories, and actions that challenge social and historical inequalities/injustices that have become part of our systems and institutions and allow certain groups to dominate over others.
Anti-RacismAn active and consistent process of change to eliminate individual, institutional and systemic racism.
Anti-Racist EducationAnti-racist education is based in the notion of race and racial discrimination as being embedded within the policies and practices of institutional structures. Its goal is to aid students to understand the nature and characteristics of these discriminatory barriers, and to develop work to dismantle them.
AntisemitismAntisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred or blame. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities. The IHRA definition provides examples, which may serve as illustrations, found here.
ApartheidAn Afrikaans word created to describe the South African system of institutionalized segregation to maintain white domination. From the 1960’s to 1991, a plan of “Grand Apartheid” was implemented, emphasizing territorial separation and police repression. The official State policy separated black and white South Africans in order to oppress, dominate, and control blacks, while enriching whites at their expense. Only the so-called “white” citizens of South Africa were allowed to vote and participate in government, and to enjoy many other privileges.
AttitudeAn individual’s state of mind which makes them react in certain ways towards social events or objects; a consistent pattern of thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and reactions.
BandA community of status Indians recognized by the federal government under the Indian Act. There are over 600 recognized Indian bands in Canada. Bands often have land set apart for their collective use (see “Reserve”). Each band has its own governing council, usually consisting of a chief and several councillors. The members of a band share common values, traditions, and practices rooted in their ancestral heritage. Today, many Indian bands prefer to use the word “First Nation” to describe their communities.
BarrierAn overt or covert obstacle which must be overcome for equality and progress to be possible.
BiasA subjective opinion, preference, prejudice, or inclination, often formed without reasonable justification, which influences the ability of an individuals or group to evaluate a particular situation objectively or accurately.See “Reasonable apprehension of bias”
BigotSomeone who is intolerantly devoted to their biased opinion, prejudices or beliefs towards people with perceived differences.
BilingualismRefers to an official policy of Canada, with two official languages (English and French). The ability to utilize two languages with equal fluency.
Bill C-31The pre-legislation name of the 1985 Act to Amend the Indian Act. This Act eliminated certain discriminatory provisions of the Indian Act. The Bill had three major goals: to address gender discrimination of the Indian Act, to restore Indian status to those who had been forcibly enfranchised due to previous discriminatory provisions, and to allow bands to control their own band membership as a step towards self-government.
Black/African CanadiansPeople of African descent and those who define themselves as such, who are now residents/citizens of Canada.
Bona Fide Occupational RequirementA workplace prerequisite that is directly related to the requirements of a specific job and which employers may consider when making decisions on the hiring and retention of employees.
CensorshipThe act of implementing a policy or program designed to suppress, either in whole or in part, the production of, or access to, information, such as sources, literature, the performing arts, music, theatre/movies, letters, documents, or ideologies which are considered unacceptable or dangerous for political, moral, or religious reasons.
ClassismA prejudice against or in favor of people belonging to a particular social class, resulting in differential treatment.
ColonialismThe policy or practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another country, occupying it with settlers, and exploiting it economically. In the late 15th century, the British and French explored, fought over, and colonized places within North America which constitutes present day Canada.
ColourismA prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group; a form of oppression that is expressed through the differential treatment of individuals and groups based on skin color. Typically, favoritism is demonstrated toward those of lighter complexions while those of darker complexions experience rejection and mistreatment.
ConciliationAn informal communications process aimed at getting two or more parties to establish meaningful dialogue, narrow down issues in dispute, and suggest cooperative ways of resolving conflict.
Convention RefugeesAt the 1951 United Nations Convention, a single definition of the term “refugee” was determined and agreed upon. A convention refugee is defined as “Someone who is unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.” See Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, 28 July, 1951, and Protocol signed at New York 31 January 1967
CreedA professed system and confession of faith, including both beliefs and observances or worship. A belief in a god or gods or a single supreme being or deity is not a requisite.
Cultural AssimilationThe full adoption by an individual or group of the culture, values and patterns of a different social, religious, linguistic or national ethos, resulting in the diminution or elimination of attitudinal and behavioural characteristics of the original individual or group. Can be voluntary or forced.
Cultural GroupMembers of a group having the same beliefs, behavioural norms, values, language, ways of thinking about and viewing the world.
Cultural RacismPortrayal of Aboriginals, Blacks, people of colour and different ethnicities in the media, school texts, literature as inherently “inferior”, “savage”, “bad”, “primitive”. The premise by a host society that devalues and stereotypes minority populations.
CultureThe mix of ideas, beliefs, values, behavioural and social norms, knowledge and traditions held by a group of individuals who share a historical, geographic, religious, racial, linguistic, ethnic and/ or social context,. This mix is passed on from one generation to another, resulting in a set of expectations for appropriate behaviour in seemingly similar contexts.
Designated GroupsSocial groups whose individual members have been historically denied equal access to employment, education, social services, housing, etc. because of membership in the group. In the Employment Equity Act, the four designated groups are: women, aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities, and members of visible minorities.
DiscriminationThe denial of equal treatment and opportunity to individuals or groups because of personal characteristics and membership in specific groups, with respect to education, accommodation, health care, employment, access to services, goods, and facilities. This behaviour results from distinguishing people on that basis without regard to individual merit, resulting in unequal outcomes for persons who are perceived as different. Differential treatment that may occur on the basis of any of the protected grounds enumerated in human rights law.
DiversityA term used to encompass the acceptance and respect of various dimensions including race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, socio-economic status, religious beliefs, age, physical abilities, political beliefs, or other ideologies.
Dominant GroupDefined as the group that controls the major elements of a society’s norms and values. The dominant group is often but not always the majority.
EmigrationThe process of leaving one’s home or country in order to settle in another place or country, for personal, economic, political, religious or social reasons.
Employment EquityA program designed to remove barriers to equality in employment for reasons unrelated to ability, by identifying and eliminating discriminatory policies and practices, remedying the effects of past discrimination, and ensuring appropriate representation of the designated groups (women; Aboriginal peoples; persons with disabilities; and visible minorities). Employment Equity can be used as an active effort to improve the employment or educational opportunities of members of minority groups and women through explicit actions, policies or programs.
Environmental RacismA systemic form of racism in which toxic wastes are introduced into or near marginalized communities. People of colour, indigenous peoples, working class, and poor communities suffer disproportionately from environmental hazards and the location of dangerous, toxic facilities such as incinerators and toxic waste dumps. Pollution of lands, air and waterways, often causes chronic illness to the inhabitants and change in their lifestyle.
Equal Opportunity ProgramIn the United States and other jurisdictions, an explicit set of policies, guidelines and actions devised to eradicate discriminatory practices and to ensure access to and full participation in educational and employment opportunities, housing, health care, services, goods and facilities available to the general community. In Canada these goals are addressed through national and provincial human rights codes, the Employment Equity Act and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
EquityA condition or state of fair, inclusive, and respectful treatment of all people. Equity does not mean treating people the same without regard for individual differences.
Ethnic GroupRefers to a group of people having a common heritage or ancestry, or a shared historical past, often with identifiable physical, cultural, linguistic and/or religious characteristics.
EthnicityThe multiplicity of beliefs, behaviours and traditions held in common by a group of people bound by particular linguistic, historical, geographical, religious and/or racial homogeneity. Ethnic diversity is the variation of such groups and the presence of a number of ethnic groups within one society or nation.
EthnocentrismThe tendency to view others using one’s own group and customs as the standard for judgment, and the tendency to see one’s group and customs as the best.
EurocentrismPresupposes the supremacy of Western civilization, specifically Europe and Europeans, in world culture. Eurocentrism centres history according to European and Western perceptions and experiences.
First NationA term that came into common usage in the 1980’s, to replace the term “Indian,” which some people find offensive – it has no legal definition. “First Nation peoples” or “First Nations” refers to the Indian peoples of Canada, both status and non-status, who are descendants of the original inhabitants of Canada who lived here for millennia before explorers arrived from Europe, and can also refer to a community of people as a replacement term for “band” (see “Band”).First Nation peoples are one of the distinct cultural groups of Aboriginal peoples in Canada. There are 52 First Nations cultures in Canada, and more than 50 languages. The term “First Nation” is not interchangeable with “Aboriginal,” because it does not include Métis or Inuit.
GenocideThe United Nations defines genocide as any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
HarassmentHarassment is a form of discrimination. It involves any unwanted physical or verbal behaviour that offends or humiliates you, whether subtle or overt. Generally, harassment is a behaviour that persists over time. Serious one-time incidents can also sometimes be considered harassment.
Hate CrimeThe Criminal Code of Canada defines Hate Crime as an offence committed to intimidate, harm or terrify not only a person, but an entire group of people to which the victim belongs. Crimes are motivated by hate, prejudice or bias on the basis of grounds such as colour, race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or mental or physical disability. In such cases, the sentencing principles of the Code (section 718.2) can be enforced to impose an increased sentence.  As noted in a separate entry, Hate Propaganda offenses are covered under specific sections of the Code.
Hate GroupAn organization that – based on its official statements or principles, the statements of its leaders, or its activities – has beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics. These organizations spread propaganda intended to incite hatred toward certain groups of people; advocate violence against certain groups on the basis of sexual orientation, race, colour, religion etc.; claim that their identity (racial, religious etc.) is ‘superior’ to that of other people; do not value the human rights of other people.
Hate PropagandaNegative ideologies and beliefs transmitted in written, verbal, or electronic form in order to create, promote, perpetuate, or exacerbate antagonistic, hateful, and belligerent attitudes and action or contempt against a specific group or groups of people. The Criminal Code defines Hate Propaganda as “any writing, sign or visible representation that advocates or promotes genocide or the communication of which by any person would constitute an offence under section 319.”
HolocaustWith a capital “H”, this term is generally understood to refer to the state-sponsored genocide of 6 million Jewish men, women and children by the Nazis and their collaborators between 1933 and 1945. International Holocaust Memorial Day honours the memory of these victims as well as five million other people, including Roma and homosexuals.With a lowercase “h”, a holocaust is the destruction or slaughter on a mass scale, especially caused by fire or nuclear war.
Holodomor (Ukrainian: to kill by starvation)The term given to the man-made famine in Ukraine (1932-1933) that resulted in the deaths of as many as 10 million Ukrainians from starvation and related birth defects. The Holodomor is recognized as an act of genocide by the government of Canada.
HomophobiaEncompasses a range of negative attitudes and feelings toward homosexuality or people who are identified or perceived as being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBTQ2S). It has been defined as contempt, prejudice, aversion, hatred or antipathy. Homophobia is observable in critical and hostile behavior such as discrimination and violence
Human RightsIn Canada, human rights are protected by federal, provincial and territorial laws. The Canadian Human Rights Act and provincial/territorial human rights codes protect individuals from discrimination and harassment in employment, accommodation and the provision of services. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects every Canadian’s right to be treated equally under the law. The Charter guarantees fundamental freedoms such as (a) freedom of conscience and religion; freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication; freedom of peaceful assembly; and freedom of association.
ImmigrantOne who moves from their native country to another with the intention of settling permanently for the purpose of forging a better life or for better opportunities. This may be for a variety of personal, political, religious, social or economic reasons.
InclusionThe extent to which diverse members of a group (society/organization) feel valued and respected.
Inclusive EducationEducation that is based on the principles of acceptance and inclusion of all students. Students see themselves reflected in their curriculum, their physical surroundings, and the broader environment, in which diversity is honoured and all individuals are respected.
Inclusive LanguageThe deliberate selection of vocabulary that avoids explicit or implicit exclusion of particular groups and that avoids the use of false generic terms, usually with reference to gender.
IndianA term historically used to identify and erase the differences among the Indigenous peoples of South, Central, and North America. The term “Indian” has been recognized as derogatory and incorrect in its history and usage, but its use in Canada persists because of the continuing legislated definitions of “Indian” contained in The Indian Act (1876), and, more recently, in the enshrinement of Aboriginal Rights under the Canadian Constitution Act of 1982. While some Indigenous people in Canada do self-identify as “Indian,” the use of the term “Indian” by non-Indigenous people is generally confined to discussions of legislative definitions and concerns.Three categories apply to Indians in Canada: status Indians, non-status Indians, and treaty Indians.A Status (or Registered) Indian is the legal identity of a First Nations person who is registered as an “Indian” under the Indian Act.Treaty Indians are persons who are registered under the Indian Act and can prove descent from a Band that signed a treaty. A non-status Indian is someone who considers themselves to be a First Nations person, or a member of a First Nation, but who the Government of Canada does not recognize as an Indian under the Indian Act, either because they are unable to prove their Indian status or have lost their status rights. Non-status Indians do not receive the same rights and benefits conferred upon status Indians under the Indian Act.
Indian ActFirst passed in 1876 and amended several times since, the Indian Act governs the federal government’s legal and political relationship with status Indians across Canada, setting out federal government obligations and regulating the management of reserve lands, Indian monies, and other resources. The Indian Act also currently requires the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development to approve or disallow by-laws enacted in First Nations communities.
IndigenousFirst used in the 1970’s, when Aboriginal peoples worldwide were fighting for representation at the U.N., this term is now frequently used by academics and in international contexts (e.g., the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples). Indigenous is understood to mean the communities, peoples, and nations that have a historical continuity with pre-invasion, pre-settler, or pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories, as distinct from the other societies now prevailing on those territories (or parts of them). Can be used more or less interchangeably with “Aboriginal,” except when referring specifically to a Canadian legal context, in which case “Aboriginal” is preferred, as it is the term used in the Constitution.
Individual RacismIndividual Racism is structured by an ideology (set of ideas, values and beliefs) that frames one’s negative attitudes towards others; and is reflected in the willful, conscious/unconscious, direct/indirect, or intentional/unintentional words or actions of individuals.  This is one of the three levels that make up Systemic Racism.
Institutional RacismInstitutional Racism exists in organizations or institutions where the established rules, policies, and regulations are both informed by, and inform, the norms, values, and principles of institutions. These in turn, systematically produce differential treatment of, or discriminatory practices towards various groups based on race. It is enacted by individuals within organizations, who because of their socialization, training and allegiance to the organization abide by and enforce these rules, policies and regulations. It essentially maintains a system of social control that favours the dominant groups in society (status quo). This is one of the three levels that make up Systemic Racism.
InstitutionsInstitutions, according to Samuel P. Huntington, are “stable, valued, recurring patterns of behavior”. Further, institutions can refer to mechanisms of social order e.g. government, business, unions, schools, churches, courts, police), which govern the behaviour of a set of individuals within a given community.
IntegrationThe process of amalgamating diverse groups within a single social context, usually applied to inter-racial interaction in housing, education, political and socio-economic spheres or activity. People who are integrated still retain their cultural identity. Integration is the implemented policy that ends segregation.
Intercultural CommunicationInformation exchange wherein the sender and receiver are of different cultural, ethnic or linguistic backgrounds.
InterculturalismIn the province of Quebec, an alternative to multiculturalism. Interculturalism accepts the primacy of francophone culture and then works to integrate other minorities into a common public culture, while respecting their diversity.
Internalized DominanceWhere individuals are unconsciously conditioned to believe they are superior or inferior in status, affecting social interaction. Internalized domination or dominance is likely to involve feelings of superiority, normalcy and self-righteousness, together with guilt, fear, projection and denial of demonstrated inequity.
Internalized OppressionPatterns of mistreatment of racialized groups and acceptance of the negative messages of the dominant group become established in their cultures and members assume roles as victims.
IntersectionalityThe experience of the interconnected nature of ethnicity, race, creed, gender, socio-economic position etc., (cultural, institutional and social), and the way they are imbedded within existing systems and define how one is valued.
IntoleranceBigotry or narrow mindedness which results in refusal to respect or acknowledge persons of different backgrounds.
InuitA circumpolar people who live primarily in four regions of Canada: the Nunavut Territory, Nunavik (northern Quebec), Nunatsiavut (Newfoundland and Labrador), and the Inuvialuit Settlement Region (western Arctic). “Inuit” means “people” in the Inuit language of Inuktitut; when referring to one person use the word “Inuk,” which means “person.” Inuit are one of the ethno-cultural groups comprising the Aboriginal peoples of Canada. The Inuit are not to be confused with the Innu, who are a First Nations group living in southeastern Quebec and southern Labrador.
IslamophobiaFear, hatred of, or prejudice against the Islamic religion or Muslims.
Lateral ViolenceDisplaced violence directed against one’s peers rather than adversaries. This construct is one way of explaining minority-on-minority violence in developed nations. It is a cycle of abuse and its roots lie in factors such as: colonisation, oppression, intergenerational trauma and the ongoing experiences of racism and discrimination.

See: Vertical Violence
MajorityThe numerically largest group within a society. The majority may be (but is not necessarily) the dominant group that successfully shapes or controls other groups through social, economic, cultural, political, military or religious power.
MarginalizationWith reference to race and culture, the experience of persons outside the dominant group who face barriers to full and equal participating members of society. Refers also to the process of being “left out” of or silenced in a social group.
MediationThe intervention into a dispute or negotiation by an acceptable impartial and neutral third party who has no authoritative decision-making power, to facilitate voluntarily and acceptable settlement of issues in dispute between parties. In a race relations context, its aim is to reach a signed agreement setting out specific steps to be taken by each side to restore social harmony and peaceful relations.
MétisThe Métis people originated in the 1700’s when French and Scottish fur traders married Aboriginal women, such as the Cree, and Anishinabe (Ojibway). Their descendants formed a distinct culture, collective consciousness and nationhood in the Northwest. Distinct Métis communities developed along the fur trade routes. Today, it is sometimes used as a generic term to describe people of mixed European and Aboriginal ancestry, but in a legal context, it only refers to descendants of specific historic communities (e.g., the inhabitants of the Red River Colony in today’s Manitoba) or specific groups (e.g., the Paddle Prairie Métis Settlement, a contemporary community in today’s Alberta) or the people who received land grants or scrip from Canadian government. The term is sometimes contentious, as each Métis organization defines membership using different terms. Canada has the only constitution in the world that recognizes a mixed-race culture, the Métis as a rights-bearing Aboriginal people. The Métis National Council website defines Métis as “a person who self-identifies as Métis, is distinct from other Aboriginal Peoples, is of historic Métis Nation ancestry and who is accepted by the Métis Nation.”
Minority GroupRefers to a group of people within a society that is either small in numbers and may have little or no access to social, economic, political, or religious power. Minority rights are protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Human Rights Acts and Codes, and the UN Convention on the Rights of Minorities.
Multicultural/Multiracial EducationA broad term which may refer to a set of structured learning activities and curricula designed to create and enhance understanding of and respect for cultural diversity. The term often connotes inclusion of racial, ethnic, religious, linguistic, national, international, and political diversity, and is also inclusive of the culture, heritage, history, beliefs and values of the various peoples within a pluralistic society.
MulticulturalismFederal policy announced in 1971 and enshrined in law in the Multiculturalism Act of 1988. It promotes the acknowledgment and respect of diverse ethnicities, cultures, races, religious, and supports the freedom of these groups to preserve their heritage “while working to achieve the equality of all Canadians.”
National Youth NetworkIn 2016, through a Multiculturalism grant, 400 high school students in four different cities participated in a day of workshops designed to discuss racism, discrimination, Reconciliation and what it means to be Canadian. This model is extended to six cities and through partnerships with local school boards and community organizations, bring students to network together to discuss their local challenges/opportunities and develop a core of best practices.
Completed Sessions
1. Moncton | February 22, 2019 | In partnership with Harmony Movement | Event Report
2. Hamilton | March 20, 2019 | In partnership with Chris D’Souza | Event Report
3. York Region | November 2018 – February 2019 | In partnership with Centre for Immigrant and Community Services | Event Report 
4. Calgary | September 20, 2019, October 4, 2019 & October 11, 2019 | In partnership with the Canadian Cultural Mosaic Foundation | Event Report 
5. Montreal | October 22, 2019 | In partnership with The Centre for Civic Religious Literacy | Event Report 
5. Saskatchewan | November 21, 2019 | In partnership with The Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan | Event Report 
NativeA general term for a person originating from a particular place. This term is somewhat ambiguous because many people of immigrant ancestry who have been born in North America claim to be “native” Canadians or Americans. The capitalization of the word is used to refer to the descendants of Indigenous peoples, but does not denote a specific Aboriginal identity (such as First Nations, Métis, or Inuit). In reference to Aboriginal peoples, it is generally thought of as outdated.
NetworkRefers to a group of people with common interests who share information formally or informally.
Non-Status IndianAn Aboriginal person who is not recognized as “Indian” under The Indian Act. This term does not apply to Inuit or Métis persons as they are not included under The Indian Act. Non-Status Indians commonly refer to people who identify themselves as Indians but who are not entitled to registration on the Indian Register pursuant to the Indian Act. Some may however be members of a First Nation band.
PatriarchyThe norms, values, beliefs, structures and systems that grant power, privilege and superiority to men, and thereby marginalize and subordinate women.
People of ColourA term which applies to non-White racial or ethnic groups; generally used by racialized peoples as an alternative to the term “visible minority.” The word is not used to refer to Aboriginal peoples, as they are considered distinct societies under the Canadian Constitution. When including Indigenous peoples, it is correct to say “people of colour and Aboriginal / Indigenous peoples.”
PluralismA state in society where some degree of cultural, linguistic, ethnic, religious or other group distinctiveness is maintained and valued. Pluralism is promoted by policies of multiculturalism and race relations, the Human Rights Codes and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Porajmos (Roma: The Devouring)The term given to the murder of as many as 500,000 Roma people during World War II by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. The Porajmos is recognized as an act of genocide by the government of Canada.
PowerThe ability to influence others and impose one’s beliefs.
PrejudiceA state of mind; a set of attitudes held, consciously or unconsciously, often in the absence of legitimate or sufficient evidence. A prejudiced person is considered irrational and very resistant to change, because concrete evidence that contradicts the prejudice is usually dismissed as exceptional. Frequently prejudices are not recognized as false or unsound assumptions or stereotypes, and, through repetition, become accepted as common sense notions. The terms “racism” and “prejudice” are sometimes used interchangeably but they are not the same. A primary difference between the two is that racism relies on a level of institutional power in order impose its dominance.
PrivilegeThe experience of unearned freedoms, rights, benefits, advantages, access and/or opportunities afforded some people because of their group membership or social context.
RaceModern scholarship views racial categories as socially constructed, that is, race is not intrinsic to human beings but rather an identity created, often by socially dominant groups, to establish meaning in a social context. This often involves the subjugation of groups defined as racially inferior, as in the one-drop rule used in the 19th-century United States to exclude those with any amount of African ancestry from the dominant racial grouping, defined as “white”. Such racial identities reflect the cultural attitudes of imperial powers dominant during the age of European colonial expansion. This view rejects the notion that race is biologically defined
Race RelationsThe pattern of interaction, in an inter-racial setting, between people who are racially different. In its theoretical and practical usage, the term has also implied harmonious relations, i.e., races getting along. Two key components for positive race relations are the elimination of racial intolerance arising from prejudicial attitudes, and the removal of racial disadvantage arising from the systemic nature of racism.
Racial DiscriminationAccording to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (to which Canada is a signatory), racial discrimination is “any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin, which nullifies or impairs the recognition, enjoyment or exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.”
Racial ProfilingAny action undertaken for reasons of safety, security or public protection that relies on assumptions about race, colour, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, or place of origin rather than on reasonable suspicion, to single out an individual for greater scrutiny or differential treatment. Profiling can occur because of a combination of the above factors, and age and/or gender can influence the experience of profiling. In contrast to criminal profiling, racial profiling is based on stereotypical assumptions because of one’s race, colour, ethnicity, etc rather than relying on actual behaviour or on information about suspected activity by someone who meets the description of a specific individual.
RacializationThe process through which groups come to be socially constructed as races, based on characteristics such as race, ethnicity, language, economics, religion, culture, politics, etc.
RacismRacism is a belief that one group is superior to others performed through any individual action, or institutional practice which treats people differently because of their colour or ethnicity. This distinction is often used to justify discrimination. There are three types of racism: Institutional, Systemic, and Individual.
RacistRefers to an individual, institution, or organization whose beliefs and/or actions imply (intentionally or unintentionally) that certain races have distinctive negative or inferior characteristics. Also refers to racial discrimination inherent in the policies, practices and procedures of institutions, corporations, and organizations which, though applied to everyone equally and may seem fair, result in exclusion or act as barriers to the advancement of marginalized groups.
Reasonable Apprehension of BiasA legal term used to determine whether or not the decision of a judge may have been influenced by bias. The test is whether a reasonable person properly informed would apprehend that there was conscious or unconscious bias on the part of the judge.
ReserveA reserve is a parcel of land where legal title is held by the Crown (Government of Canada), for the use and benefit of a particular First Nation. An Addition to Reserve is a parcel of land added to the existing reserve land of a First Nation or that creates a new reserve. Land can be added adjacent to the existing reserve land (contiguous) or separated from the existing reserve land (non-contiguous). An Addition to reserve can be added in rural or urban settings. The term “reservation” is only used in the United States and does not apply in Canada.
Science of Racism VideoNew discoveries in neuroscience show promising avenues for further research into methods for mitigating the impact of unconscious bias, and the systemic injustice that can arise if such biases are left unchecked. The CRRF feels that the introduction of scientific approaches to the study of racism will be instrumental in helping to open new exciting approaches in our collective anti-racism work. To that end, and to better share the results of ongoing research, the CRRF has developed a program for a public science exhibition on the Science of Racism, along with an educational video on the subject.
The CRRF looks forward to working with prospective sponsors and venues in order to stimulate thoughtful discussion in the public square.
SegregationThe social, physical, political and economic separation of diverse groups of people, based on racial or ethnic groups. This particularly refers to ideological and structural barriers to civil liberties, equal opportunity and participation by minorities within the larger society.
Settler/Settler ColonialismWithin the context of race relations, the term refers to the non-indigenous population of a country. Settler colonialism functions through the replacement of indigenous populations with an invasive settler society that, over time, develops a distinctive identity and sovereignty. In Canada and in other countries, the ascendancy of settler culture has resulted in the demotion and displacement of indigenous communities, resulting in benefits that are unearned.
SexismPrejudice or discrimination based on sex, usually though not necessarily against women; behaviours, conditions or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex. Sexism may be conscious or unconscious, and may be embedded in institutions, systems or the broader culture of a society. It can limit the opportunities of persons with disabilities and reduce their inclusion in the life of their communities. 
Shoah (from Hebrew, meaning ‘catastrophe’)The term for the state sponsored murder of 6 million Jews by the Nazi regime (1933-1945) and their collaborators. It differs from “Holocaust” (which in some uses refers to Roma, homosexuals and others) in that it is used specifically with reference to the Jewish victims of Nazism.
Social JusticeA concept premised upon the belief that each individual and group within society is to be given equal opportunity, fairness, civil liberties, and participation in the social, educational, economic, institutional and moral freedoms and responsibilities valued by the society.
Social OppressionSocial oppression refers to oppression that is achieved through social means and that is social in scope—it affects whole categories of people. This kind of oppression includes the systematic mistreatment, exploitation, and abuse of a group (or groups) of people by another group (or groups). It occurs whenever one group holds power over another in society through the control of social institutions, along with society’s laws, customs, and norms. The outcome of social oppression is that groups in society are sorted into different positions within the social hierarchies of race, class, gender, sexuality, and ability. Those in the controlling, or dominant group, benefit from the oppression of other groups through heightened privileges relative to others, greater access to rights and resources, a better quality of life, and overall greater life chances. Those who experience the brunt of oppression have fewer rights, less access to resources, less political power, lower economic potential, worse health and higher mortality rates, and lower overall life chances.
StereotypeA preconceived generalization of a group of people. This generalization ascribes the same characteristic(s) to all members of the group, regardless of their individual differences.
Structural/Societal RacismStructural or Societal Racism pertains to the ideologies upon which society is structured. These ideologies are inscribed through rules, policies and laws; and represents the ways in which the deep rooted inequities of society produce differentiation, categorization, and stratification of society’s members based on race. Participation in economic, political, social, cultural, judicial and educational institutions also structure this stratification (Carl James, 2010).This is one of the three levels that make up Systemic Racism.
Systemic DiscriminationThe institutionalization of discrimination through policies and practices which may appear neutral on the surface but which have an exclusionary impact on particular groups. This occurs in institutions and organizations, including government, where the policies, practices and procedures (e.g. employment systems – job requirements, hiring practices, promotion procedures, etc.) exclude and/or act as barriers to racialized groups.
Systemic FaithismRefers to the ways that cultural and societal norms, systems, structures, and institutions directly or indirectly, consciously or unwittingly, promote, sustain or entrench differential (dis)advantage for individuals and groups based on their faith (understood broadly to include religious and non-religious belief systems). 
Systemic RacismThis is an interlocking and reciprocal relationship between the individual, institutional and structural levels which function as a system of racism. These various levels of racism operate together in a lockstep model and function together as whole system. These levels are:Individual (within interactions between people)Institutional (within institutions and systems of power)Structural or societal (among institutional and across society)Please see Individual Racism, Institutional Racism, and Structural/Societal Racism
ToleranceA liberal attitude toward those whose race, religion, nationality, etc. is different from one’s own. Since it has the connotation of ‘to put up with’, the term “acceptance” is now preferred.
TreatyA negotiated agreement between a First Nation and the federal and provincial governments that spells out the rights of the First Nation with respect to lands and resources over a specified area. It may also define the self-government authority of a First Nation. The Government of Canada and the courts understand treaties between the Crown and Aboriginal peoples to be solemn agreements that set out promises, obligations, and benefits for both parties.
Treaty IndianStatus Indians belonging to a First Nation/band whose ancestors signed a treaty with the Crown, and, as a result, are entitled to treaty benefits.
Vertical ViolenceA term used to describe abusive behaviours towards those in less powerful positions. Vertical violence is a broad term which may include bullying, harassment, intimidation or acts of physical violence. It may occur in the workplace, in schools or in social settings.See: Lateral Violence
Visible MinorityTerm used to describe people who are not white. Although it is a legal term widely used in human rights legislation and various policies, currently the terms racialized minority or people of colour are preferred by people labelled as ‘visible minorities’.
WhiteA social colour. The term is used to refer to people belonging to the majority group in Canada. It is recognized that there are many different people who are “White” but who face discrimination because of their class, gender, ethnicity, religion, age, language, or geographical origin. Grouping these people as “White” is not to deny the very real forms of discrimination that people of certain ancestry, such as Italian, Portuguese, Jewish, Armenian, Greek, etc., face because of these factors.
White PrivilegeThe inherent advantages possessed by a white person on the basis of their race in a society characterized by racial inequality and injustice. This concept does not imply that a white person has not worked for their accomplishments but rather, that they have not faced barriers encountered by others.
XenophobiaFear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign.

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