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.
|Genocide||Deliberate decisions and actions made by one nation or group of people in order to eliminate, usually through mass murder, the entirety of another nation or group. The term has also been used to refer to the destruction of the culture of a people, as in cultural genocide.|
|Harassment||Persistent, on-going communication (in any form) of negative attitudes, beliefs or actions towards an individual or group, that is known or ought reasonably to be known, to be unwelcome, with the intention of disparaging that person(s). Harassment can be manifested in name calling, jokes or slurs, graffiti, insults, threats, discourteous treatment, and written or physical abuse. Harassment may be subtle or overt.|
|Hate Group Activity||Represents some of the most destructive forms of human rights-based discrimination in that they promote hatred against and aversion to identifiable groups of people. Hate groups generally label,disparage and commit violence against people who may include immigrants, people with disabilities, members of racialized, religious or cultural groups, or people who are gay or lesbian.|
|Hate Propaganda||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.|
Widespread destruction and loss of life. With a capital H,the term specifically refers to the murder of over six million Jews and five million other people including Roma and homosexuals by the Nazis and their collaborators during World War II.
|Human Rights||Human rights affirm and protect the right of every individual to live and work without discrimination and harassment. Human rights policies and legislation attempt to create a climate in which the dignity, worth and rights of all people are respected, regardless of age, ancestry, citizenship, colour, creed (faith), disability, ethnic origin, family status, gender, marital status, place of origin, race, sexual orientation or socio-economic status.|
|Immigrant||One who moves from his/her native country to another with the intention of settling 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 word is sometimes used incorrectly to refer, implicitly or explicitly, to people of colour or with nondominant ethnicities.|
|Inclusive Education||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.|
|Inclusive Language||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.|
Three categories apply to Indians in Canada: status Indians, non-status Indians, and treaty Indians. A status Indian is the legal identity of a First Nations person who is registered as an “Indian” under the Indian Act. 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. Métis and Inuit peoples are not Indians.
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 moneys, 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. Since 1945, some of its more draconian elements have been removed to comply with international human rights law regarding civil and political rights, including opposition to genocide.
First used in the 1970s, when Aboriginal peoples worldwide were fighting for representation at the U.N., and now frequently used by academics and in international contexts (e.g., the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples). 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||The conscious or unconscious beliefs, attitudes and actions of an that perpetuate racism.|
|Institutional Racism||see Systemic Discrimination|
|Institutions||Fairly stable social arrangements through which collective actions are taken (e.g. government, business, unions, schools, churches, courts, police).|
|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.|
|Internalized Dominance||Incorporation of superiority and dominance, and the social interaction that results.|
|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, etc., (cultural, institutional and social), and the way they are imbedded within existing systems such that they define how one is valued.|
|Intolerance||BBigotry or narrow mindedness which results in refusal to respect or acknowledge persons of different racial backgrounds.|
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||A term recently coined to refer to expressions of fear and negative stereotypes, bias or acts of hostility towards the religion of Islam and individual Muslims.|
|Majority||Refers to the group of people within society either largest in number, in a superior social position, or 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 of an acceptable impartial and neutral third party who has no authoritative decision-making power, to reach voluntarily and acceptable settlement of issues in dispute. 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||Historically, the term Métis referred to the children of French fur traders and their Cree wives on the Prairies, of English and Scottish traders and Dene women in the North, and of Inuit and British in Newfoundland and Labrador. 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.|
|Minority Group||Refers to a group of people within a society that is either small in numbers or that has 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 people 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”.|
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. However, the term “Native American” is commonly used in the United States.
|Network||Refers to a group of people with common interests who share information formally or informally without authority or dominant hierarchy.|
|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.|
|Oppression||The unilateral subjugation of one individual or group by a more powerful individual or group, using physical, psychological, social or economic threats or force, and frequently using an explicit ideology to sanction the oppression.|
|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 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.|
|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; means literally to “pre-judge”; 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.|
|Privilege||The experience of freedoms, rights, benefits, advantages, access and/or opportunities afforded some people because of their group membership or social context.|
|Race||Refers to a group of people of common ancestry, distinguished from others by physical characteristics such as colour of skin, shape of eyes, hair texture or facial features. (This definition refers to the common usage of the term race when dealing with human rights matters. It does not reflect the current scientific debate about the validity of phenotypic descriptions of individuals and groups of individuals). The term is also used to designate social categories into which societies divide people according to such characteristics.|
|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.|
|Racial discrimination||According 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 Profiling||Any 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. (OHRC).|
|Racialization||The process through which groups come to be socially constructed as races, based on characteristics such as race, ethnicity, language, economics, religion, culture, politics, etc. That is, treated outside the norm and receiving unequal treatment based upon phenotypical features.|
|Racism||Racism is any individual action, or institutional practice which treats people differently because of their colour or ethnicity. This distinction is often used to justify discrimination.|
|Racist||Refers 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, thereby perpetuating racism.|
|Racist slurs||Insulting or disparaging statements directed towards a particular racial or ethnic group. Racist incidents express racist assumptions and beliefs through banter, racist jokes, name calling, teasing, discourteous treatment, graffiti, stereotyping, threats, insults, physical violence or genocide.|
A tract of land, the legal title of which is held by the Crown, set apart for the use and benefit of an Indian band/First Nation community. The federal government has primary jurisdiction over these lands and the people living on them (as opposed to municipal or provincial governments). The term “reservation” is only used in the United States and does not apply in Canada.
|Segregation||The social, physical, political and economic separation of diverse groups of people, particularly referring to ideological and structural barriers to civil liberties, equal opportunity and participation by minorities within a majority racial, ethnic, religious, linguistic or social group. Segregation may be a mutually voluntary arrangement but more frequently is enforced by the majority group and its institutions.|