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.
Presupposes the supremacy of Western civilization, specifically Europe and Europeans, in world culture. Eurocentrism centres history according to European and Western perceptions and experiences.
A 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.
The 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.
Harassment 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.
The 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.
An 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.
Negative 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.”
With 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.
Encompasses 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
In 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.
One 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.
The extent to which diverse members of a group (society/organization) feel valued and respected.
Education 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.
The 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.
A 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 Act||First 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.|
|Indigenous||First 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 Racism||Racist assumptions, beliefs and behaviours that stem from conscious and unconscious personal prejudice.|
|Institutional Racism||see Systemic Discrimination|
|Institutions||Institutions, 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.|
|Integration||The 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 Communication||Information exchange wherein the sender and receiver are of different cultural, ethnic or linguistic backgrounds.|
|Interculturalism||In 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 Dominance||Where 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 Oppression||Patterns 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.|
|Intersectionality||The 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.|
|Intolerance||Bigotry or narrow mindedness which results in refusal to respect or acknowledge persons of different backgrounds.|
|Inuit||A 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.|
|Islamophobia||Fear, hatred of, or prejudice against the Islamic religion or Muslims.|
|Lateral Violence||Displaced 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
|Majority||The 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.|
|Marginalization||With 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.|
|Mediation||The 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.|
|Métis||The 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 Group||Refers 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 Education||A 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.|
|Multiculturalism||Federal 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.”|
|Native||A 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.|
|Network||Refers to a group of people with common interests who share information formally or informally.|
|Non-Status Indian||An 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.|
|Patriarchy||The norms, values, beliefs, structures and systems that grant power, privilege and superiority to men, and thereby marginalize and subordinate women.|
|People of Colour||
A 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.”
|Pluralism||A 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.|
|Power||The ability to influence others and impose one’s beliefs.|
|Prejudice||A 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.|
|Privilege||The experience of unearned freedoms, rights, benefits, advantages, access and/or opportunities afforded some people because of their group membership or social context.|
|Race||Modern 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 Relations||The 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.|