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.
Terms are organized in alphabetical order.
The descendants of the original inhabitants of North America. Term used to collectively describe three groups – recognized in the Consitution Act, 1982: 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.” It should also not be used when referring to only one or two of the three recognized groups.
Rights that Aboriginal peoples of Canada hold as a result of long-standing ancestral use and occupancy of the land. The Aboriginal right to hunt, trap, and fish on ancestral lands are examples of Aboriginal rights. Aboriginal rights will vary from group to group depending on the customs, practices, and traditions that have formed their distinctive cultures.
Governments designed, established, and administered by Aboriginal peoples under the Canadian Constitution through a process of negotiation with Canada and, where applicable, a provincial government.
A legal term that recognizes Aboriginal interest in the land. It is based on long-standing use and occupancy of the land by today’s Aboriginal peoples, as the descendants of the original inhabitants of Canada.
|Acceptance||Affirmation and recognition of those whose race, religion, nationality, values, beliefs, etc. are different from one’s own.|
|Acculturation||The process of psycho-social change whereby the culture, values and patterns of a new or different culture are adopted by a person or an ethnic, social, religious, language or national group. This process can also involve absorbing aspects of minority cultures into the host culture’s pattern.|
|Adverse Impact||The numerical and often unintended impact of employment practices that disproportionately exclude designated groups. This may be a signpost to investigate possible systemic discrimination. It is not a measure of discrimination.|
|Affirmative Action||A set of explicit actions, policies or programs designed to increase participation at all levels of employment and education for and by individuals or groups previously excluded from full participation.|
|Ally||A member of a different group who works to end a form of discrimination for a particular individual or designated group.|
|Ancestry||A line of people from whom one is descended; family descent.|
|Anti-Black Racism||Anti-Black racism is the racial prejudice, stereotyping and discrimination that is directed at people of African descent. It is manifested in the social, economic, and political marginalization of African Canadians in society.|
|Anti-Oppression||Strategies, theories and actions that challenge social and historical inequalities and injustices that are systemic to our systems and institutions by policies and practices that allow certain groups to dominate over other groups.|
|Anti-Racism||An active and consistent process of change to eliminate individual, institutional and systemic racism.|
|Anti-Racist Education||A perspective that promotes the identification and change required of educational practices, policies, attitudes and behaviours that underlie racism.|
|Antisemitism||Latent or overt hostility or hatred directed towards, or discrimination against individual Jews or the Jewish people for reasons connected to their religion, ethnicity, and their cultural, historical, intellectual and religious heritage. Antisemitism has also been expressed through individual acts of physical violence, vandalism, the organized destruction of entire communities and genocide. In more recent times, such manifestations could also target the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collective.|
|Apartheid||An Afrikans 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.|
|Assimilation||The 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 affiliations from the original cultural group. Can be voluntary or forced.|
|Attitude||The state of mind which makes us react in certain ways to social events or objects; a consistent pattern of thoughts, beliefs, emotions and reactions.|
A 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.
|Barrier||An overt or covert obstacle; used in employment equity to mean a systemic obstacle to equal employment opportunities or outcomes; an obstacle which must be overcome for equality to be possible.|
|Bias||A subjective opinion, preference, prejudice or inclination, often formed without reasonable justification, that influences an individual’s or group’s ability to evaluate a particular situation objectively or accurately; a preference for or against. Reasonable apprehension of bias exists when there is a reasonable belief that an individual or group will pre-judge a matter and therefore cannot assess a matter impartially because of bias.|
|Bigot||One stubbornly or intolerantly devoted to one’s biased opinions and prejudices.|
|Bilingualism||The ability to utilize two languages with equal fluency; an official policy of Canada, with two official languages (English and French).|
The pre-legislation name of the 1985 Act to Amend the Indian Act. This Act eliminated certain discriminatory provisions of the Indian Act, including the section that resulted in Indian women losing their Indian status when they married non-status Indians or non-Aboriginal men. Bill C-31 enabled these women and their descendants to apply to have their Indian status and band membership reinstated.
|Blacks/African Canadians||People of African descent and those who define themselves as such, who are now residents/citizens of Canada.|
|Bona Fide Occupational Requirement||A workplace prerequisite that is directly related to the requirements of a specific job.|
|Censorship||The act of implementing a policy or program designed to suppress, either in whole or in part, the production of or access to information, sources, literature, the performing arts, letters, documents or ideologies which are considered unacceptable or dangerous for political, moral or religious reasons.|
|Classism||The cultural, institutional and individual set of practices and beliefs that assign value to people according to their socio-economic status, thereby resulting in differential treatment.|
|Colonialism||Usually refers to the period of European colonization from Columbus (1492) onwards, in the Americas, Asia and Africa, and taking on different forms from settler colonies like Canada to non-settler colonies such as India during British rule. Colonialism differs also across colonizing nations and across time. For example, French colonialism had different policies from British colonialism.|
|Conciliation||Primarily an informal communications process aimed at getting the parties to establish meaningful dialogue, narrow down issues in dispute and suggest cooperative ways of resolving conflict. The goal of conciliation and/or mediation (see below) is to settle racial or ethnical disputes peacefully and outside the court system.|
|Convention Refugees||Convention refugee is “any person who, by reason of a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion is outside the country of his or her nationality and is unable, or by reason of that fear, unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country; or not having a country of nationality, is outside the country of his or her former habitual residence and is unable or, by reason of that fear, unwilling to return to that country; and has not ceased to be a Convention refugee. See Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, 28 July, 1951, and Protocol signed at New York 31 January 1967.|
|Creed||A 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 Group||Members of a group having the same beliefs, behavioural norms, values, language, ways of thinking about and viewing the world.|
|Cultural Racism||Portrayal 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.|
|Culture||The mix of ideas, beliefs, values, behavioural and social norms, knowledge and traditions of a group of individuals who have historical, geographic, religious, racial, linguistic, ethnic or social context, and who transmit, reinforce and modify those ideas, values and beliefs, passing them on from one generation to another.. It results in a set of expectations for appropriate behaviour in seemingly similar contexts.|
|Designated Groups||Social groups whose individual members have been historically denied equal access to employment, education, social services, housing, etc. because of membership in the group. In Ontario, the designated groups include, among others, people protected on the basis of ancestry, citizenship, race, creed, colour, ethnic origin and place of origin.|
|Discrimination||The 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 and access to services, goods and facilities. Behaviour that 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 race, nationality, religion, ethnic affiliation.|
|Diversity||A term used to encompass all the various national, racial, ethnic, religious and other backgrounds of people –and used increasingly in Canada to describe workplace programs aimed at reducing discrimination, promoting equality of opportunity and outcome for all groups. The presence of a wide range of human qualities and attributes within a group, organization, or society. The dimensions of diversity include, but are not limited to, ancestry, culture, ethnicity, language, race, religion, and socio-economic status.|
|Dominant Group||Considered the group that controls the major elements of a society’s norms and values.|
|Emigration||The process of leaving one’s home or country in order to settle in another home, place or country, for personal, economic, political, religious or social reasons.|
|Employment Equity||A 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.|
|Environmental Racism||A systemic form of racism in which toxic wastes are introduced into or near marginalized communities. People of colour, indigenous peoples, working class and poor people suffer disproportionately from environmental hazards and risks such as industrial toxins, polluted air, unclean water, deleterious work conditions 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 Program||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, and the services, goods and facilities available to the general community.|
|Equity||A 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 Group||Refers 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.|
|Ethnicity||The 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.|
|Ethnocentrism||The 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.|
|Eurocentrism||Presupposes the supremacy of Europe and Europeans in world culture, and relates history according to a European perception and experience.|
|Faithism||The cultural, institutional and individual set of practices and beliefs that assign different values to people according to their religion or creed, or their lack of religion or creed, thereby resulting in differential treatment on the basis of faith.|
A term that came into common usage in the 1980s, 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 in Canada, both status and non-status, 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.