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We have curated hundreds of words, descriptions and phrases commonly used in the anti-discrimination world and that of our game. Our definitions may differ from what you read from traditional dictionary sources. However, we have included current social and cultural nuances that are often overlooked on previous definitions. We hope this guide can be your one-stop-shop for a general understanding of a variety of topics.
able-bodied: used to describe someone who does not identify as having a disability. Some members of the Disability community oppose its use because it implies that all disabled people lack “able bodies” or the ability to use their bodies well. Using non-disabled puts disability on a continuum, understanding that we will all have a disability at some point. Use the term non-disabled instead.
ableism: a system that produces social and physical barriers based on one’s abilities (mental, neurological, intellectual, emotional, and/or physical) and one’s contributions to “productivity” within a capitalist and colonial framework. Dis/ableism depends on a binary, exploiting disabled people for the benefit of non-disabled people. Disabled people are subject to social stigma, isolation, and systemic barriers to resources, and targeted with violence and oppression.
ableist language: discriminatory language refers to language that is typically associated with a marginalized group but borrowed by another group and used in a discriminatory manner. Ableist language is an example of this, as it uses words that have historically described people with disabilities. The words have become embedded in our language, and we don't even realize the words we are saying have an impact, e.g. “That’s lame”, “You’re a psycho.”
Aboriginal Peoples: a collective name for the original peoples of Turtle Island and their descendants. Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 recognizes three distinct groups of Aboriginal peoples. “In this Act, “Aboriginal peoples of Canada” includes the “Indian”, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada.” These are separate groups, with each having a unique and diverse heritage, language, cultural practices and spiritual beliefs. In the Indian Act Aboriginal includes the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples of Turtle Island (Canada). Most times the preferred term is Indigenous.
Aboriginal title: an inherent right, recognized in common law, that originates in Indigenous Peoples occupation, use and control of ancestral lands prior to colonization. Aboriginal title is not a right granted by the government; rather, it is a property right that the Crown first recognized in the Royal Proclamation of 1763. It has been subsequently recognized and defined by several Supreme Court of Canada decisions. Furthermore, subsection 35 (1) of the Constitution Act, 1982 recognizes and affirms “existing Aboriginal and treaty rights.” However, Canadian sovereignty over lands is not dependent upon an agreement with First Nations with regard to Aboriginal title, and reconciling the Canadian legal understanding of Aboriginal title with Indigenous Peoples understanding remains a challenge.
Abraham Lincoln: (born February 12, 1809, near Hodgenville, Kentucky, U.S.—died April 15, 1865, Washington, D.C.), 16th President of the United States (1861–65), who preserved the Union during the American Civil War and is often credited for bringing about the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States. In his view, the Union was worth saving not only for its own sake but because it embodied an ideal, the ideal of self-government. In recent years, the political side of Lincoln’s character, and his racial views, in particular, have come under scrutiny, as scholars continue to find him a rich subject for research.
accessible: refers to the design of products, devices, services, or environments. Accessible also describes products and services for people with vision or hearing disabilities, such as when a hospital provides patient education materials in large print or a university adds captions to a recruitment video.
accessible parking: stalls designated for use only by disabled people who possess a valid government-issued parking permit or a valid license plate. Please avoid using the phrase “handicapped parking.” “Handicapped” has negative connotations because it suggests that obstacles to participation are in the person rather than in the environment.
accommodation: means changing certain rules, standards, policies, workplace and physical environments to ensure that they do not have a negative effect on a person because of the person's mental or physical disability, religion, gender or any other protected ground.
accountability: refers to ways individuals and communities hold themselves to their goals and actions while acknowledging the values and groups to which they are responsible.
ace: slang term for someone who is asexual.
acquired hearing loss: describes those who were born with hearing but lost some or all of their ability.
adultism: the behaviours and attitudes based on the assumptions that adults are better than young people, and entitled to act upon young people without agreement. Adultism is popularly used to describe any discrimination against young people and is distinguished from ageism, which is simply prejudice on the grounds of age; not specifically against youth.
affinity bias: unconscious preferences we have for people who are more like us.
affirmative action: a policy that strives for increased enrolment of those marginalized and People of Colour, activity, or membership, often intending to diversify a certain environment such as a school or workplace.
Africa: the world's second-largest and second-most-populous continent. The name Africa came into Western use through the Romans, who used the name Africa terra — "land of the Afri" (plural, or "Afer" singular) — for the northern part of the continent, as the province of Africa with its capital Carthage, corresponding to modern-day Tunisia. Africa, particularly Eastern Africa, is widely accepted as the place of origin of humans and the Hominidae clade, meaning that Africa has a long and complex history.
ageism: is stereotyping and/or discrimination against individuals or groups based on their age. This may be casual or systematic. Describes discrimination against seniors and patterned on sexism and racism.
agender: a person who doesn’t identify with any gender, or identifies as being genderless. Their gender identity may live outside the gender binary. Agender people may or may not identify as trans.
agents of oppression: members of the dominant social groups, privileged by birth or acquisition, which knowingly or unknowingly exploit and reap unfair advantage over members of groups that are targets of oppression. Agents of oppression are also trapped by the system of institutionalized oppression that benefits them and are confined to roles and prescribed behaviours. Agents have the power to define the “norm” for what is reality.
ally: members of the advantaged group who recognize their privilege and work in solidarity with oppressed groups to dismantle the systems of oppression(s) from which they derive power, privilege and acceptance. Allied behaviour means taking intentional, overt and consistent responsibility for the changes we know are needed in our society, and does so in a way that facilitates the empowerment of persons targeted by oppression. Allies understand it is in their own interest to end all forms of oppression, even those from which they may benefit in concrete ways. The ally framework also implies that one does not feel directly implicated by the specific oppression.
allyship: an action, not an identity. A philosophy rooted in action; it demands doing what is necessary to recognize and subvert systems of oppression. Allyship is a process, based on trust and accountability, looks different for everyone based on your identities, experiences, and spheres of influence, and is not self-defined, (i.e., you don't label yourself as an “ally”).
anti-Black racism: any attitude, behaviour, practice, or policy that explicitly or implicitly reflects the belief that Black people are inferior to another racial group. Anti-Black racism is in interpersonal, institutional, and systemic levels of racism and is a function of white supremacy.
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. It acknowledges the intersections of identity and diversity including race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, a record of offences, marital status, family status and disability and aims to promote equity between the various identities.
anti-racism: the active process of recognizing the existence of racism, including systemic racism, and actively seeking to identify, remove, prevent and mitigate the racially inequitable outcomes and power imbalances between groups and the structures that sustain these inequities.
anti-racist: a person who actively opposes racism and the unfair treatment of people who belong to other races. They recognize that all racial groups are equal (i.e. nothing inherently superior or inferior about specific racial groups) and that racist policies have caused racial inequities. They also understand that racism is pervasive and embedded in all societal structures. An anti-racist challenges the values, structures, policies, and behaviours that perpetuate systemic racism, and they are also willing to admit the times in which they have been racist. People are either anti-racist or racist. People who say they are “not a racist” are in denial of the inequities and racial problems that exist.
anti-Semitism: the 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. Anti-Semitism may be 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.
asexuality: an umbrella term for folks who do not experience sexual attraction, though there is a significant amount of diversity in this community regarding how different people experience attraction, relationships, and intimacy in different ways. This is not the same as celibacy.
assimilation: a process by which outsiders (persons who are others because of cultural heritage, gender, age, religious background, and so forth) are enforced, or made to take on the existing identity of the group into which they are being assimilated. The term has had a negative connotation in recent educational literature, imposing coercion and a failure to recognize and value diversity. Also understood as a survival technique for individuals or groups.
attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): is one of the most common mental disorders affecting children. ADHD also affects many adults. Symptoms of ADHD include inattention (not being able to keep focus), hyperactivity (excess movement that is not fitting to the setting) and impulsivity (hasty acts that occur at the moment without thought).
Aunt Jemima: a brand of pancake mix, syrup, and other breakfast foods. They developed the pancake mix in 1888–1889 by the Pearl Milling Company and advertised as the first ready-mix. They base the Aunt Jemima character on the enslaved "Mammy" archetype. The "Aunt Jemima Doctrine" in US trademark law originates in a 1915 case between the pancake mix company and an unrelated seller of pancake syrup.
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD): refers to a group of complex disorders of brain development that may cause difficulty with social interactions, problems with verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behaviours.
B/blind: describes a condition in which a person has a loss of sight. A person is legally blind when vision with the best correction is no better than 20/200. Low vision and vision loss are generic terms for vision loss caused by macular degeneration and other conditions. Low vision usually denotes someone who is legally blind, but can still see large print, bright colours, light and shadow and large shapes, while vision loss refers to those who have lost vision after birth. Some blind people consider themselves visual thinkers, so they regard visually impaired and visually challenged as negative terms. Some Blind people capitalize the “B” as a way to honour the connection to culture and community they hold.
Band: members of a First Nation or group for whom lands set apart, and for the Crown holds whom. It is a body of “Indians” declared by the Governor-in-Council to be a Band for the Indian Act. Many bands today prefer to be called First Nations and have changed their names, e.g. the Batchewana Band is now the Batchewana First Nation.
bannock: a type of bread that was brought to Turtle Island by Scottish colonizers, where Indigenous Peoples adapted the recipe over the 18th and 19th centuries, using cornflour or plants rather than the wheat flour of the Europeans. Cooked hearth-side, usually prepared as a large biscuit that can be broken up or wrapped around a stick. Regional variants have now emerged in Indigenous communities across Turtle Island (North America).
barrier: a physical or societal structure, design, practice or rule that prevents or impedes individuals from accessing a service or community life.
belonging: the feeling of security and support when there is a sense of acceptance, inclusion, and identity as a member of a certain group or place. In order for people to feel like they belong, the environment needs to be set up to be a diverse and inclusive place.
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.
bias awareness: refers to being aware of personal biases, stereotypes, and prejudice.
bigot: a person who is obstinately or unreasonably attached to a belief, opinion, or faction, especially one prejudiced against or antagonistic toward a person or people based on their membership of a particular group.
bigotry: intolerant prejudice that glorifies one’s own group and denigrates members of other groups.
Bill C-31, 1985: a Bill that changed the “Indian” registration system adopted and maintained by the Canadian Federal Government, so that entitlement was no longer based on sexually discriminatory rules. However, the amendments “resulted in a complicated array of categories of Indians and restrictions on status…” which was further challenged.
biphobia: fear of bisexuals, often based on stereotypes, including inaccurate associations with infidelity, promiscuity, and transmission of sexually transmitted diseases.
BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour): this acronym unites all People of Colour while acknowledging that Black and Indigenous Peoples face different and often more severe forms of racial oppression and cultural erasure as consequences of systemic white supremacy and colonialism. It is a noun and since it includes the word "people" it would be redundant to say "BIPOC people." Pronounced "buy-pock" as opposed to saying each letter individually.
BIPoC (Black and Indigenous People of Colour): NOT Black, Indigenous and People of Colour. The former addresses the issues that intersect our two communities. The latter excludes. Use BIPoC when you discuss those two groups specifically. Use POC when you mean all communities of colour. Use Black when you mean Black.
bipolar disorder: formerly known as manic depression, it is believed this mental illness to be caused by a combination of genetic factors and neurological functioning. Unusually intense shifts in emotion, energy, behaviour and activity levels in what is called “mood episodes characterize it.” Episodes are usually classified as manic, hypomania, depressive or mixed episodes. Bipolar disorder often develops during late adolescence or early adulthood.
Biracial: a person who identifies as coming from two races. A person whose biological parents are of two distinct races.
bisexual: a person who can form enduring physical, romantic and/or emotional attractions to those of the same gender or to those of another gender. People may experience this attraction in differing ways and degrees over their lifetime. Bisexual people need not have had specific sexual experiences to be bisexual; in fact, they need not have had any sexual experience at all to identify as bisexual.
Black Entertainment Television (BET): cable lobbyist Robert L. Johnson launched this cable television network in the 1980s. The network originated as two hours of weekly programming, with music videos becoming a staple asset to the programming. However, it wasn’t until 1988 that BET debuted BET News, hosted by journalist Ed Gordon. The show focused on issues relevant to the Black community and pop culture, bringing Black voices to the focus on national television. In 1991, the network became the first Black-controlled TV company to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange and so was breaking the boundaries of Black entertainment and creating a space for the voices that were marginalized by white America.
blackface: dark makeup worn (as by a performer in a minstrel show) in a caricature of the “appearance of a Black person”, or “a performer wearing such makeup.” The practice dates back to minstrel shows that were popular during the 1800s through the mid-20th century, especially in the United States. White actors performing in those shows used to rub their faces with shoe polish or greasepaint to impersonate and act out overblown racist stereotypes of Black people.
Black hair: rooted in a painful history that Black people are still striving to overcome; just about everything about a person's identity could be learned by looking at the hair in early African civilizations. During the 19th Century, slavery was abolished in much of the world, including the United States in 1865. However, many Black people felt pressure to fit in with mainstream white society and adjusted their hair accordingly. The Afro hairstyle, which emerged in the 1960s during the Civil Rights Movement, was a symbol of rebellion, pride and empowerment. In response to the racial politics of the time, the fist comb - with a handle shaped like the Black Power salute - was designed in the 1970s. Afros, dreadlocks and many other Black hairstyles currently portray the beauty and versatility of Black hair. The problem remains however, that while Black people may style their hair to reflect their own individual choices, their hair is still being interpreted by a white mainstream gaze and that interpretation is often wrong as well as racist. Black hair is more than fashion, but a way of reclaiming an identity that was once stolen.
Black History Month (Canada): has not always been celebrated or highlighted, and is still disproportionately underrepresented in literature, schooling and media. There is little mention that some of the Loyalists who settled in the Maritime were people of African descent who came after the American Revolution or of the many sacrifices made in wartime by soldiers of African descent as far back as the War of 1812. Canadians are not always aware of the fact that Black people were once enslaved in the territory that is now Canada or how those who fought enslavement helped to lay the foundation of society in Canada. Black History Month is about honouring the enormous contributions that Black people have made, and continue to make, in all sectors of society.
Black History Month (U.S.): an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. Also known as African American History Month, the event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month.
Black is beautiful: a phrase referring to a broad embrace of Black culture and identity. It called for an appreciation of the Black past as a worthy legacy, and it inspired cultural pride in contemporary Black achievements.
Black Lives Matter (BLM): a political movement to address systemic and state violence against African Americans. Per the Black Lives Matter organizers: “In 2013, three radical Black organizers—Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi—created a Black centered political will and movement building project called #BlackLivesMatter. It was in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman. The project is now a member-led global network of over 40 chapters. BLM members organize and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. It is an affirmation of Black folks’ humanity, our contributions to this society, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.”
Black-on-Black crime: a phrase or a concept that recently is used to ask why the same activists and community members calling for police reform seemingly, in their view, don't express the same outrage when someone Black is killed or injured by another Black person. According to data, white people commit crimes against other white people at about the same rate that Black people do against other Black people. But despite these numbers, people aren’t discussing the “white-on-white” crime problem. When a white person commits a crime against another white person, it’s just called a crime; race isn’t a factor, and that’s intentional. Using language like “Black-on-Black crime” perpetuates the myth that lateral violence is specific to the Black community — a myth that implies Black people are inherently more violent. This tactic has been used to justify the mistreatment of Black people since the abolishment of slavery.
Blackout Tuesday: was a collective action to protest racism and police brutality. The action, originally organized within the music industry in response to the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, took place on June 2, 2020. They encouraged businesses taking part to abstain from releasing music and other business operations. Some outlets produced blacked-out, silent, or minimal programming for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the time that police officer Derek Chauvin compressed Floyd's neck.
Black pride: as a direct response to white racism and ideologies, especially during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, Black pride rose within the communities to empower those and encourage the celebration of Black people and their heritage. Though the country has removed some of its institutional, legalized racial discrimination — enslavement, Jim Crow laws, “separate but equal” schools, and prohibitions on voting or owning land — there’s still huge inequality in education, housing, employment, wealth, representation in leadership positions, government surveillance, incarceration and drug arrests. The unification of the Black communities helps combat the current system, allowing for alternative ways for Black people to flourish in a society that benefits them little or none. In a white-dominated society empowering, valuing, loving yourself and Black people collectively is powerful and important. Black is beautiful.
blood quantum: the degree to which an individual can prove a certain amount of Indian blood. This amount is used to determine the individual’s tribal belonging and legal rights. Blood quantum is a measure of the amount of “Indian blood”, used in the U.S expressed as a fraction such as one-half or one-fourth. This mathematical racism continues into the 21st century and has become a deeply ingrained tool used by tribal governments. Over 70 percent of existing tribal constitutions contain citizenship requirements involving blood. Using blood quantum as a genetic cut-off point for Indian people is viewed by many as an instrument of assimilation and extermination. The reasons are: first, blood quantum can never be increased; only decreased. Even if a full-blooded Oneida marries a ½ blood Oneida, their children will only be ¾. And if their children have children, they will only be a further divided fraction of “Indian enough.” In Canada, the Indian Act and status system can be thought of as intergenerational surveillance that tracks racial purity. Although the legislation doesn't specifically refer to blood quantum, this is essentially what it amounts to.
Bollywood: the Indian movie industry’s equivalent of Hollywood. The name is a combination of Bombay, the city now called Mumbai, and Hollywood. It is a popular term for Hindi cinema and is a vast pop culture industry. It is the largest producer of movies in the world, ahead of Hollywood and France. Bollywood is not the only source of Indian cinema and movies in other languages, but Bollywood is the largest. Bollywood's movies include several genres, but they are often musicals with singing and dancing.
butch: having an appearance and/or other traits that are viewed as typically masculine. The term is sometimes used within lesbian communities to refer to people whose gender expression (hair cut, clothing, etc.) embodies traditionally masculine traits and characteristics. Use with caution, as it can be considered derogatory.
bystander: a person who is present at an event or incident but does not take part. Similar to an onlooker, passerby, nonparticipant, observer, spectator.
calling in: in social justice circles, refers to the act of checking your peers and getting them to change problematic behaviour by explaining their misstep with compassion and patience. Calling in is a tool for teaching others in safe situations, and it can be useful if you are someone from a privileged group who can do the work of calling in others who share your privilege and challenging their problematic beliefs.
calling out: to issue a direct challenge to something said or done, usually in public and intending to expose a person of wrongdoing to others. It’s essential to denounce bigotry in all its forms, and calling people out is one of many strategies we must use.
cancel culture: the phenomenon of promoting the “cancelling” of people, brands and even shows and movies due to what some consider being offensive or problematic remarks or ideologies. We don’t believe it is as binary as that and encourage individuals to research the nuance in each specific case.
capitalism: an economic and political order that relies on a mostly private, unequal market system of production and consumption.
Caucasian: an outdated term that refers to three limited, subjective anthropological categories created in the late 1700s. No Person of Colour would find it more “polite” to be called “Negroid” or “Mongoloid” — the historical companions to “Caucasoid.” Most white people in Turtle Island (North America) do not descend from the Caucasus region between Europe and Asia (touching Russia, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan) but from Western and Northern Europe.
cerebral palsy: several neurological disorders that appear in infancy or early childhood and permanently affect body movement and muscle coordination.
chattel slavery: an enslaved person who is owned forever and whose children and children's children are automatically enslaved. These humans were treated as complete property, to be bought and sold. European governments and monarchs supported and made chattel slavery legal. This type of enslavement was practised in European colonies from the sixteenth century onward.
China doll: a figurine, usually porcelain. When used metaphorically, the image demeans women of Chinese or Asian descent because it implies submission, sometimes sexual.
chopsticks: originated in China around 1200 B.C. when cooks used them to retrieve food from the bottom of pots. Chopsticks moved from stove to table and became popular in China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam. People in Indonesia, Thailand and India don’t traditionally use chopsticks. Some Southeast Asia restaurants run by people who rarely use chopsticks offer them to tourists who believe this will help them eat more authentically.
cisgender: a term used by some to describe people who are not transgender. "Cis-" is a Latin prefix meaning "on the same side as," and is therefore an antonym of "trans-." A more widely understood way to describe people who are not transgender is simply to say, non-transgender people. Cisgender can be shortened to cis. The word cisgender distinguishes without assuming that cisgender is the neutral or normal state.
cisgenderism/cissexism: refers to the belief that being cisgender is normative, as showed by the assumption that individuals are cisgender unless otherwise specified.
cisnormativity (cisnormartive): the assumption by people, groups of people and institutions that everyone is cisgender and that cisgender people are superior to transgender people. This is also used to describe the erasure of transgender identities by assuming people are cisgender.
classism: a system of oppression that produces social and physical barriers based on one’s real or perceived economic status or background. Associated with but not mutually exclusive to capitalism.
climate: refers to how its individual members perceive and experience an organization. Climate influences whether individuals feel valued, listened to, personally safe and treated with fairness and dignity within an organization.
closed captions: captions on a video intended for audience members who are deaf or have hearing loss. They provide the text of all audible information, including what is spoken, as well as captions describing loud noises, sound effects and music.
closeted (in the closet): describes a person who is not open about his or her sexual orientation or gender identity. Some individuals may be out to some people in their life, but not out to others due to fear of rejection, harassment, violence, loss of a job or other concerns.
cochlear implant: an electronic device that can assist a person who is deaf or hard of hearing in understanding speech. The device does not fully restore hearing, but it gives a representation of sounds to help a person understand speech.
coconut: the term has been used to accuse someone of betraying their race, or culture, by implying that, like a coconut, they are brown on the outside but white on the inside.
code-switching: refers to the practice by people with marginalized identities of changing their behaviour, appearance, and language to assimilate to the dominant culture and gain access to advantages experienced by people with dominant identities.
Colin Kaepernick: a professional NFL Super Bowl quarterback who fights oppression globally. Colin Kaepernick was photographed sitting during the US national anthem at the 49ers third preseason game on August 26, 2016. The quiet and subtle gesture gained national attention. He was later joined in the protest by several of his teammates, colleagues in the NFL, and athletes from other sports as well. Kaepernick’s protests were widely interpreted as being in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and came at a key time for the movement. When examining both Black Lives Matter and Kaepernick, it is important to understand how two separate movements, strengthening on parallel tracks — one protesting for a cause and the other symbolizing a movement — began and became so closely linked. He has been a free agent since opting out of his contract with the 49ers in early 2017.
collective liberation: recognizes that all of our struggles are intimately connected, and that we must work together to create the world we know is possible. Believing every person is worthy of dignity and respect, and that within systems of oppression everyone suffers.
colonization: invasion, dispossession and subjugation of people. The result of such incursion is the dispossession of vast amounts of lands from the original inhabitants. This is often legalized after the fact… The long-term result of such massive dispossession is institutionalized inequality. The colonizer/colonized relationship is by nature an unequal one that benefits the colonizer at the expense of the colonized. Colonization provides colonizers with political power and control, economic gain through the exploitation of peoples and resources, and social power with the dominance of colonizer cultural practices and beliefs. An ongoing process that continues to provide political/economic/social benefits to the colonizers of lands.
coloured person time (CPT): an American expression referring to one of the negative stereotypes of African Americans as frequently being late. We consider the expression a derogatory racist stereotype because it implies that African Americans have a relaxed or indifferent view of work ethic, which leads to them being labelled as lazy or unreliable.
colourism: occurs when someone with lighter skin gets favoured over someone with darker skin. Colourism occurs within all races, as all have varieties of skin tone and hair colour.
coming out: the process in which a person first acknowledges, accepts and appreciates their sexual orientation or gender identity and shares that with others.
Confederate Flag: in 1860-61, eleven Southern States seceded from the United States to protect the institution of enslavement, forming the Confederate States of America and precipitating the Civil War. During the war, the Confederacy and its military forces used a variety of flags, but the flag that became most associated with the Confederacy was the so-called "battle flag." Organizations such as the Sons of Confederate Veterans adopted the flag as a symbol of Southern heritage, but the flag also served as a potent symbol of enslavement and white supremacy, which has caused it to be very popular among white supremacists in the 20th and 21st centuries. This popularity extends to white supremacists beyond the borders of the United States.
confirmation bias: our tendency to interpret information based on a way that confirms our own previous beliefs and experiences.
congenital amusia: commonly known as tone deafness, refers to a musical disability that a prior brain lesion, hearing loss, cognitive defects, or lack of environmental stimulation caused, and it affects about 4% of the population.
corporate social responsibility: a business model that helps a company be socially accountable to itself, its stakeholders, and the public. CSR initiatives seek to make a positive impact on local communities and the environment. It is the way through which a company achieves a balance of economic, environmental and social imperatives.
critical race theory (CRT): a movement officially organized in 1989. It examines racial power structures and suggests that racism affects all aspects of our society, and is embedded in our policies, institutions, and social life, and that the individual racist does not need to exist for structural racism to be pervasive. At first, someone mainly referenced CRT in legal scholarship but has since spread in many fields and disciplines.
cross-dresser: while anyone may wear clothes associated with a different sex, the term cross-dresser is typically used to refer to men who occasionally wear clothes, makeup, and accessories culturally associated with women. Those men typically identify as heterosexual. This activity is a type of gender expression and not done for entertainment. Cross-dressers do not wish to change their sex or live full time as women. Replaces the term "transvestite" which is often considered derogatory.
cultural appropriation: the adoption or the theft of icons, rituals, aesthetic standards, and behaviour from one culture or subculture by another. Applied when the subject culture is a marginalized culture or somehow subordinate in social, political, economic, or military status to the appropriating culture. This “appropriation” often occurs with no real understanding of why the original culture took part in these activities or the meanings behind these activities, often converting culturally significant artifacts, practices, and beliefs into “meaningless” pop culture or giving them a significance that differs completely from they would originally have had.
cultural baggage: referring to attitudes, patterns, judgments, or expectations “packed” in the home cultures that we carry with us.
cultural competence: refers to an individual's or an organization’s knowledge and understanding of different cultures and perspectives. It’s a measure of an individual's or a workforce’s ability to work with people of different nationalities, ethnicities, languages, and religions.
cultural sensitivity: being aware that cultural differences and similarities between people exist without assigning them a value. Cultural sensitivity skills can ensure the ability to work effectively alongside people with different cultural attitudes and behaviours.
culture: a social system of meaning and custom that is developed by a group of people to assure its adaptation and survival. A set of unspoken rules that shape values, beliefs, habits, patterns of thinking, behaviours and styles of communication distinguish these groups.
culture of white supremacy: used to refer to a culture in which it systematically privileges white people at the direct expense of all peoples who are not white or white presenting.
D/deaf: we use the lowercase deaf when referring to the audiological condition of not hearing, and the uppercase Deaf when referring to a particular group of deaf people who share a language and a culture. The Deaf community inherited Sign Language and uses it as a primary means of communication. It holds a set of beliefs about their connection to the larger society. Distinguished from those who lose their hearing because of illness, trauma or age; although these people share the condition of not hearing, they do not have access to the knowledge, beliefs, and practices that make up the Deaf culture.
dead naming: occurs when an individual, intentionally or not, refers to the name that a transgender or gender-expansive individual used at a different time in their life. Avoid this practice, as it can cause trauma, stress, embarrassment, and even danger. Some may prefer “birth name”, “given name”, or “old name.”
decolonization: the undoing of colonialism, including dismantlement of outside rule, reclamation of indigenous practices and reconnection to self, family and community.
deficit-minded language: language that blames students for their inequitable outcomes instead of examining the systemic factors that contribute to their challenges. It labels students as inadequate by focusing on qualities or knowledge they lack, such as the cognitive abilities and motivation needed to succeed in college, or shortcomings socially linked to the student, such as cultural deprivation, inadequate socialization, or family deficits or dysfunctions. This language emphasizes “fixing” these problems and inadequacies in students.
defund the police: reallocating or redirecting funding away from the police department to other government agencies funded by the local municipality. Defund does not mean abolish.
denial: refusal to acknowledge the societal privileges that are granted or denied based on an individual’s identity components.
developmental (intellectual) disability: involves significant limitations both in intellectual functioning (reasoning, learning, problem-solving) and in adaptive behaviour, which covers a range of everyday social and practical skills. Some people may be born without this disability, but develop it later in life because of an illness or accident.
different sex: an alternative to "opposite sex" that recognizes gender as a continuum, rather than a binary construct. A person who is non-binary, for example, and identifies as neither male nor female, can have a relationship with a person of a different sex, but might not relate to the term opposite sex.
disability: defined from an individual model or a social model. The individual model is dominant and assumes that the difficulties faced by disabled people directly result from their individual impairments or lack or loss of functioning. The social model of disability recognizes the social origin of disability in a society geared by, and for, non-disabled people. The disadvantages and restrictions often referred to as barriers permeate every aspect of the physical and social environment. Disability can, therefore, be a form of social oppression.
Disability culture: a collective identity on an understanding of shared oppression and have the principal goals of forging positive images and changing society to meet the requirements of social justice and equity. Disability activists and disability scholars have criticized notions of Disability culture that emphasize a collective identity as the paradox of Disability culture. The paradox lies in the argument that claiming unity against oppression is actually a source of oppression. Claiming unity leads to the simple dichotomies of “us” (Disabled) and “them” (nondisabled), ignoring and devaluing differences among disabled people.
discrimination: any action or behaviour usually based on prejudiced attitudes. Discrimination occurs when we put prejudiced thoughts and beliefs into actions that limit the freedoms and activities of others. It usually takes the form of differential treatment of one individual by another or the exclusion or restriction of one group by another. It can be overt or covert, conscious or unconscious, and usually excludes based on the physical differences between people.
diversity: includes how people differ, and it encompasses all the unique characteristics that make an individual or group different from another. It is all-inclusive and recognizes everyone and every group as part of the diversity that should be valued. A broad definition includes not only race, ethnicity, and gender — the groups that most often come to mind when the term diversity is used — but also age, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, education, marital status, language, and physical appearance. It also involves original ideas, perspectives, and values. It is important to note that many activists and thinkers critique diversity alone as a strategy.
diversity hire: Black? Check. Korean? Female? Check, check. Lesbian? Check. Term created by employers ticking off boxes for a “diverse hire.” A person cannot be “diverse.”
diversity training: any program designed to facilitate positive intergroup interaction, reduce prejudice and discrimination, and teach individuals who differ from others how to work together effectively.
Donald Trump: 45th President of the United States (2017–21). Trump was a real-estate developer and business person who owned, managed, or licensed his name to several hotels, casinos, golf courses, resorts, and residential properties in the New York City area and around the world. Trump was the third president in U.S. history to be impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives and the only president to be impeached twice—once (in 2019) for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in connection with the Ukraine scandal and once (in 2021) for “incitement of insurrection” in connection with the storming of the United States Capitol by a violent mob of Trump supporters as Congress met in joint session to ceremonially count electoral college votes from the 2020 presidential election. Both of Trump’s impeachments ended in his acquittal by the U.S. Senate. Trump lost the 2020 election to former vice president Joe Biden by 306 electoral votes to 232; he lost the popular vote by over seven million votes. Trump has a history of speech and actions that scholars and the public have widely viewed as a racist or white supremacist. Journalists, friends, family, and former employees have accused him of fuelling racism in the United States. Trump has repeatedly denied accusations of racism, and some people he has worked with the claim that he is not racist.
Down syndrome: a condition in which a child is born with an extra copy of their 21st chromosome — hence its other name, trisomy 21. This causes physical and mental developmental delays and disabilities. Many of the disabilities are lifelong, and they can also shorten life expectancy. However, people with Down syndrome can live healthy and fulfilling lives. Recent medical advances, as well as cultural and institutional support for people with Down syndrome and their families, provides many opportunities to help overcome the challenges of this condition.
drag: dressing or acting in a style typically associated with another gender, typically through costume and/or performance. Not synonymous with transgender or cross-dressing.
drag show: entertainment performed by drag artists impersonating men or women. Typically, a drag show involves performers singing or lip-synching to songs while performing a pre-planned pantomime or dancing.
driving while Black (DWB): phrase or acronym describing racial profiling of Black motorists by police, especially while driving expensive cars or in upscale neighbourhoods without reason.
dyke: originally a pejorative term for a lesbian, it is now being reclaimed by some lesbians. Offensive usually; use with caution.
dyslexia: a learning disorder that involves difficulty reading because of problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words (decoding). Also called reading disability, dyslexia affects areas of the brain that process language.
eating disorder: any of a range of psychological disorders characterized by abnormal or disturbed eating habits (such as anorexia nervosa). Eating disorders are serious but treatable mental illnesses that can affect anyone regardless of gender, age, racial and ethnic identity, sexual orientation or socio-economic background. Many people with eating disorders never get diagnosed but suffer significant personal and family distress. The social and economic costs of untreated eating disorders are like those of depression and anxiety, with debilitating physical and mental health effects comparable to psychosis and schizophrenia.
educate yourself: taking time to learn about issues from other communities for oneself without making people of those communities teach you. By learning about the histories and experiences of target groups, we can become better advocates.
educational equity gap: the condition where there is a significant and persistent disparity in educational attainment between distinct groups of students.
Elder: very important members of First Nation, Métis, and Inuit communities. The term Elder refers to someone who has attained a high understanding of First Nation, Métis, or Inuit history, traditional teachings, ceremonies, and healing practices. Elders have earned the right to pass this knowledge on to others and to give advice and guidance on personal issues, as well as on issues affecting their communities and nations. First Nation, Métis, and Inuit peoples value their Elders and all older people, and address them with the utmost respect.
emancipation: freeing enslaved people in law or in fact. Emancipation may or may not include the abolition of the institution of slavery. During the Civil War, they often limited emancipation to certain types of enslaved people or to particular areas.
Emancipation Proclamation: President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, as the nation approached its third year of Civil War. The proclamation declared "that all persons held as slaves" within the rebellious states "are, and henceforward shall be free." Despite this expansive wording, it limited the Emancipation Proclamation. It applied only to states that had seceded from the United States, leaving enslavement untouched in the loyal border states. It also exempted parts of the Confederacy (the Southern secessionist states) that had already come under Northern control. Most important, the freedom it promised depended upon Union (United States) military victory. Although the Emancipation Proclamation did not end enslavement in the nation, it captured the hearts and imagination of millions of Americans and transformed the character of the war.
emotional labour: the need to induce or suppress feeling in order to sustain the outward countenance that produces the proper state of mind in others.
emotional tax: is the combination of feeling different from peers at work because of gender, race, and/or ethnicity, being on guard against experiences of bias, and experiencing the associated effects on health, well-being, and ability to thrive at work.
empathy: a learned skill that allows one to recognize and deeply listen to another’s story or experiences, and connect them to common understandings and emotions; differs from sympathy.
empowerment: when target group members refuse to accept the dominant ideology and take actions to redistribute social power more equitably.
enfranchisement: granting the right to vote.
enslaver: anyone that has control or ownership over another human being the usage of “owner” or “master” empowers the enslaver and dehumanizes the enslaved person, reducing them to a commodity rather than a person who has had slavery imposed upon them.
environmental racism: the set of structures, institutions, practices and ideas that produces unhealthy, poisoned environments, concentrated in low-income communities and communities of colour worldwide.
epilepsy/epileptic fit: a chronic neurological and developmental disorder characterized by “recurrent, unprovoked seizures,” according to the Epilepsy Foundation, which also states that it is the fourth most common neurological disorder. Epilepsy manifests differently in individuals. The severity of epileptic seizures, their occurrence rates, and the emergence of other health problems differ from person to person. Epilepsy is most commonly treated with medication, but the treatment also can include the use of medical devices, surgery, diet and emerging therapy methods.
equality: the effort to treat everyone the same or to ensure that everyone has access to the same opportunities. However, only working to achieve equality ignores historical and structural factors that benefit some social groups and disadvantage other social groups, in ways that create differential starting points.
equity: the effort to provide different levels of support based on an individual’s or group’s needs in order to achieve fairness in outcomes. Working to achieve equity acknowledges unequal starting places and the need to correct the imbalance.
equity-minded: a schema that provides an alternative framework for understanding the causes of equity gaps in outcomes and the action needed to close them. Rather than attribute inequities in outcomes to student deficits, being equity-minded involves interpreting inequitable outcomes as a signal that practices are not working as intended. They eliminate inequities through changes in institutional practices, policies, culture, and routines. Equity-mindedness encompasses being (l) race-conscious, (2) institutionally focused, (3) evidence-based, (4) systemically aware, and (5) action-oriented.
Eskimo kiss: popularized by Nanook of the North, an “Eskimo kiss” (known in Inuktitut as akunik) is a type of greeting in which two parties slowly rub their noses together. However, the popularized “Eskimo kiss” cannot be akunik, which involves softly pressing one’s nose to the cheek of another and slowly breathing in the receiver’s scent. This nuzzle greeting is most often done to babies or small children.
ethnicity: a social construct that divides people into smaller social groups based on characteristics such as shared sense of group membership, values, behavioural patterns, language, political and economic interests, history, and ancestral geographical base.
Eurocentrism (also called Eurocentricity or Western-centrism): the practice of using Europe and European culture as a frame of reference or standard criteria from which to view the world. Eurocentrism favours European cultural norms and excludes the realities and experiences of other cultural groups.
exotic: people sometimes use the word “exotic” when describing anybody who doesn’t fit into the Western standard of beauty. Western features comprise light skin, light eyes, straight hair and slim figures. We see anyone who does not fit this criterion as different and referring to them makes them feel like an outsider. While we often intend its use as a compliment, saying someone looks “exotic” reduces them to a stereotype.
fairy: historically, a derogatory term used to describe gay men. Some gay men use the term "fairy" affirmatively to refer to themselves, but it is not a term that others should use to refer to gay men.
feminine-presenting: a way to describe someone who expresses gender in a more feminine way.
feminism: ending gender discrimination and bringing about gender equality. Within this goal, there are many types of feminism. Instead of describing them in isolation from each other, we can divide feminism into “waves.” First-wave feminism had a fairly simple goal: to have society recognize that women are human, not property. While the leaders of 1st-wave feminism were abolitionists, their focus was on white women’s rights. Second-wave feminism took place in the 1960s and ‘70s. It built on first-wave feminism and challenged what women’s role in society should be. Queer theory became more established. There were major victories in this era including the Equal Pay Act of 1963, Roe v. Wade in 1973, and other Supreme Court cases. While mainstream first and second-wave feminism had largely ignored or neglected racial disparities within gender, the Third wave paid more attention. Rebecca Walker, in 1992, coined the phrase “third-wave feminism” a 23-year-old Black bisexual woman. When the internet became more commonplace, it was even easier to hear perspectives and ideas from feminists around the world. Fourth-wave feminism continues to reckon with intersectionality. Critics of “white feminism,” which ignores the unique struggles and suppression of Women of Colour. Trans rights are a big part of the conversation, too. Feminism has often been an unwelcoming place for trans women and others who reject the gender binary. Many fourth-wave feminists are working to combat this exclusion. As with every wave before it (and any wave that comes after it), the fourth wave is complex. It encompasses many movements that both complement and clash with each other. This tension is unavoidable. While some types of feminism can have harmful effects, having a variety of voices makes feminism more inclusive and successful.
First Nations: a term used to describe Indigenous Peoples in Turtle Island (Canada) who are not Métis or Inuit. Original inhabitants of Turtle Island, and were the first to encounter sustained European contact, settlement and trade. There are 634 First Nations in Turtle Island (Canada), speaking over 50 distinct languages. “First Nations” should be used only as a general term, as community members are more likely to define themselves as members of specific nations, or communities within those nations. When discussing groups of people from differing backgrounds, it is appropriate to use First Nations as a general group name, provided that there are no Inuit or Métis members.
first world problem: a usually minor problem or annoyance experienced by people in relatively affluent or privileged circumstances, especially as contrasted with problems of greater social significance facing people in poor and underdeveloped parts of the world.
folks/folx: both terms are gender-neutral ways to refer to groups of people. The term folx provides a way of signalling that you are specifically and explicitly including trans and non-binary people.
freedom: the state of being at liberty, unrestricted, not restrained.
freedom seeker: illustrates the African American decision to take control of their destiny from the enslaver (slaveholder) to one of their own choosing and left their enslaver. Avoid use of “fugitive slave” and “runaway slave.”
fugitive: a common term in the 18th and 19th centuries that is still used today to describe the freedom seeker. The term has historically been attached to various Fugitive Slave Laws passed by the U.S. Congress and suggests that the “fugitive” was criminal to escape from bondage.
fundamental attribution error: the often unconscious bias to place more emphasis on perceived internal or innate characteristics to explain someone’s behaviour in a situation; doesn’t take into consideration the external factors that can, and often do, impact an individual’s behaviour.
gaslighting: a form of psychological manipulation in which a person or a group covertly sows seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or group, making them question their own memory, perception, or judgment. It may evoke changes in them, such as cognitive dissonance or low self-esteem, rendering the victim additionally dependent on the gaslighter for emotional support and validation. Using denial, misdirection, contradiction and disinformation, gaslighting involves attempts to destabilize the victim and delegitimize the victim's beliefs.
gay: a term used to describe people who are emotionally, romantically, and/or physically attracted to people of the same gender (e.g. gay man, gay people). In contemporary contexts, lesbian is often a preferred term for women, though many women use the term gay to describe themselves. People who are gay need not have had any sexual experience. Attraction and self-identification determine sexual orientation, not the gender or sexual orientation of one’s partner. We should not use the term as an umbrella term for LGBTQ2S+ people, e.g. “the gay community,” because it doesn't encompass the diversity in this community.
gender: the socially constructed ideas about behaviour, actions, and roles a particular sex performs.
gender-affirming surgery (GAS): surgical procedures that can help people adjust their bodies to match their innate gender identity more closely. Used interchangeably with gender affirmation, gender confirmation, and gender-confirming surgery. Not every transgender person will desire or have resources for gender-affirming surgery. Use this term in place of the term “sex change.” Also, sometimes referred to as gender reassignment surgery, genital reconstruction surgery, or medical transition.
gender-based violence: violence rooted in gender-based oppression and power inequalities based on gender identity, perceived gender identity and/or gender expressions, such as sexism, cis sexism, misogyny, and transmisogyny. Any act of interpersonal, institutional or systemic act of violence (physical, sexual, economic, emotional, spiritual, social) that devalues and/or reinforces expected entitlement to women, girls, and trans, two-spirit, genderqueer, non-binary, and gender non-conforming bodies and lives.
gender binary: the disproven concept that there are only two genders, (male and female), and that everyone must be one or the other. Often misused to assert that gender is biologically determined. This concept also reinforces the idea that men and women are opposites and have different roles in society.
gender dysphoria: clinically significant distress that a person experiences when the sex assigned at birth (by anatomy) does not match their gender identity. A person may experience various degrees of dysphoria regarding different parts of their anatomy. For example, a female-bodied person may experience dysphoria with their breasts and voice, but not their genitalia.
gender euphoria: described as a euphoric feeling often experienced when one’s gender is recognized and respected by others, when one’s body aligns with one’s gender, or when one expresses themselves under their gender. Focusing on gender euphoria instead of gender dysphoria shifts focus towards the positive aspects of being transgender or gender expansive.
gender-expansive: an umbrella term sometimes used to describe people who expand notions of gender expression and identity beyond perceived or expected societal gender norms. Some gender-expansive individuals identify as a mix of genders, some may identify more like a man or a woman, and some may identify as no gender. Gender-expansive people might feel that they exist among genders, as on a spectrum, or beyond the notion of the man/woman binary paradigm. Sometimes gender-expansive people use gender-neutral pronouns, but people can exist as any gender while using any pronouns. They may or may not be as comfortable with their bodies as they are, regardless of how they express their gender.
gender expression: how one presents (or expresses) their gender. As we live in a society that holds and enforces messages about what particular genders we expect to look like (e.g., men looking masculine) gender expression is often used (inappropriately and often ineffectively) to determine someone’s gender identity. Though these two concepts are related, one does not determine or show the other.
gender fluid: a gender identity that is mutable (liable to change) or that is not fixed/static.
gender identity: one's internal, deeply held sense of one's gender. For transgender people, their own internal gender identity does not match the sex assigned at birth. Most people have a gender identity of a man or woman (or boy or girl). For some people, their gender identity does not fit into one of those two choices. Unlike gender expression, gender identity is not visible to others.
gender neutral: not gendered. Examples include language to describe relationships, such as the terms "spouse" or "partner" instead of husband/boyfriend or wife/girlfriend. Similarly, gender-neutral restrooms are for use by all people, regardless of gender. The pronouns "they" and "ze" are gender-neutral pronouns.
gender-neutral salutations or titles: a salutation or title that does not specify the gender of the addressee in a formal communication or introduction. Also used for people who do not identify as a binary gender, addressing someone where the gender is unknown, or if the correspondence-sender is unsure of the gender of the person to whom the correspondence is being sent. Mx. (pronounced mix) and M. are the most commonly used gender-neutral salutations (e.g. “Dear Mx. Smith…” or “Hello M. Moore…). Generally, M. is used when the gender is unknown, and Mx. is used when the person uses that prefix.
gender nonconforming (GNC): a term for people who do not follow gender stereotypes. Often an umbrella for nonbinary genders. Though fairly uncommon, some people view the term as derogatory, so they may use other terms including gender-expansive, differently gendered, gender creative, gender variant, genderqueer, nonbinary, agender, genderfluid, gender-neutral, bi-gender, androgynous, or gender diverse.
gender pronoun: the term one uses to identify themselves in place of their name (i.e. ze/hir/hirs, ey/em/eirs, they/them/theirs, she/her/hers, he/him/his, etc.). Using the specific gender pronoun identified by each individual should be respected.
genderqueer: refers to individuals who blur preconceived boundaries of gender in relation to the gender binary; they can also reject commonly held ideas of static gender identities. Sometimes used as an umbrella term in much the same way that the term queer is used, but only refers to gender, and thus should only be used when self-identifying or quoting someone who uses the term genderqueer for themselves.
gender roles: the strict set of societal beliefs that dictate the so-called acceptable behaviours for people of different genders, usually binary. Many people find these to be restrictive and harmful, as they reinforce the gender binary.
gender spectrum: the concept that gender exists beyond a simple man/woman binary model, but exists on a continuum. Some people fall towards more masculine or feminine aspects, some people move fluidly along the spectrum, and some exist off the spectrum entirely.
gender wage gap: a widely recognized indicator of women’s economic inequality, and it exists across industries and professional levels. A 2015 UN Human Rights report raised concerns about “the persisting inequalities between women and men” in Canada, including the “high level of the pay gap” and its disproportionate effect on low-income women, racialized women, and Indigenous women. Much more data—disaggregated by sex, race and ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability status, and more factors—are needed to understand precisely where pay disparities exist and where efforts must be targeted.
genocide: the intentional destruction of a particular group through killing, serious physical or mental harm, preventing births and/or forcibly transferring children to another group. The Government of Canada has formally recognized five instances of genocide abroad: the Armenian Genocide, the Holodomor, the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide, and the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia. Within Canada, some historians, legal scholars and activists have claimed that the historical, intergenerational and present treatment of Indigenous Peoples are acts of genocide.
ghetto: a term used as a synonym for sections of cities inhabited by marginalized people. Avoid this term because of its negative connotations. Often the name of the neighbourhood is the best choice.
Gordon’s (Indian) Residential School: originally a small church-run school in the early 1850s, under the Church Missionary Society, in Treaty 4 territory. In 1889, they transferred it to the Anglican church and received federal funding. By 1911 it became officially funded as a residential school. This school drew students from a variety of surrounding areas in Saskatchewan and usually held the overflow from other schools. Like most residential schools, it was perpetually overcrowded and under-funded. This school burned down several times during its years as a residential school. In 1969, it transferred the school to the control of the Federal government. It was closed in 1996. This school is one of the most notorious for physical and sexual abuse cases. The former supervisor of the school, William Starr, was convicted of 10 counts of sexual abuse. He later admitted that he had abused many more children and estimated that hundreds were his victims. Accusations have been made against other teachers and even former students at this school as well, but no more charges were laid.
Gypsy: a word used to describe Roma people, a traditionally itinerant ethnic group that lives in Europe and has branches in the Americas, Asia and North Africa. The word Gypsy has negative connotations and many Roma people see it as a racial slur. It's best to use Roma people when referring to the ethnic group unless people self-identify as Gypsies.
handicap(ed): the term originally comes from a game called "Hand in Cap," which is a game of chance in which every person would have an equal chance of winning in each succeeding game that you played. Over time, the name of this game became shortened from hand-in-cap to hand i’cap, then handicap. Later it applied to horse racing. You would “handicap” a fast horse by hanging stones on it to slow it down. It began in the late nineteenth century to apply to disabled people. It was very much tied to the competitive, social-evolutionist worldview that was ubiquitous in the late nineteenth century. And that was the term that was used through much of the twentieth century until fairly recently, when the term "disability" replaced it. Many people believe that the term "handicapped" was first used in relation to disabled people when Civil War veterans whose injuries prevented them from working were begging on the streets with "cap in hand," although this is a myth.
hard of hearing: describes those who have lost some (not all) of their hearing.
hate crime: a bias-motivated crime is a crime in which the offender is motivated by a characteristic of the victim that identifies the victim as a member of some group towards which the offender feels some animosity.
headdress (First Nations): also known as a war bonnet. Feathered headgear traditionally worn by Chiefs of the American Plains Indians Nations who have earned a place of great respect in their tribe. This item of adornment, along with the warrior's clothing, communicated his rank in a warrior society. Someone could not just decide to wear one–it was decidedly not a fashion accessory. To gain a war bonnet, a warrior had to display great bravery in battle. On those occasions that a warrior accomplished great deeds or battle coups, they received an eagle feather. For this reason, feathers also recalled specific moments in time.
health care inequity: the practice of intentionally or unintentionally treating people differently and unfairly because of their race, sex, national origin, disability or other protected class.
hearing impaired/hearing impairment: general terms used to describe people with a range of hearing loss from impairment partial to complete. Many dislike the terms because, like the word “handicap”, hearing impaired, describes a person in terms of a deficiency or what they cannot do. The World Federation of the Deaf has taken the stance that hearing impaired is no longer an acceptable term. For those with total hearing loss, deaf is acceptable. For others, “partial hearing loss” or “partially deaf” is preferred. It is best to ask the person which term he or she prefers.
hegemony: refers to unchallenged, unquestioned systems and practices of power that are maintained not only by those who benefit from these practices, but by those who are subordinated by them. Hegemony is social control that coerces people through cultural means and without the use of brute force to act against the interests of their own communities because of internalizing the logic and demands of those in power.
hermaphrodite: an offensive term for someone who is intersex. The term has valid uses within academic circles relating to the study of non-human animals and plants, but should not be used to describe humans.
heteronormative: term used to identify how social institutions and dominant culture are oriented around the assumed “normal” and ideal logic of heterosexual attraction and unions. We premise heterosexuality itself upon the idea that there are two distinct sexes (male and female) and associated genders (masculine and feminine) that are inherently opposite and complementary for reproduction and the organizing of life’s activities.
heterosexism: a system that produces social and physical barriers based on one’s sexual orientation, specifically individuals who are questioning, lesbian, non-labelling, bisexual, asexual, queer, pansexual, gay, or identify in any other way that is not heterosexual. Heterosexism depends on the binary of straight and gay, making invisible the vast spectrum and fluidity of sexual orientation. It also enforces and is enforced by the gender binary.
heterosexism: structural, interpersonal, or other forms of discrimination or prejudice against anyone who does not conform to binary gender norms based on the assumption that heterosexuality is the “normal” sexual orientation.
heterosexual: an adjective used to describe people whose enduring physical, romantic and/or emotional attraction is to people of the “opposite sex”.
hierarchy: system of grades or status ranked above the other.
hijāb: means “barrier” or “curtain” in Arabic. It is usually used to refer to an article of clothing called a khimar in Arabic (and the Quran). Muslim women wear it because in Quran 24:31 it tells them to drape their khimars over their chests (thus creating a "barrier"). Some people who wear hijab only show their feet, face and hands, others show their forearms and feet as well, while some others cover from their neck to the middle of their calf. It may be interpreted as a visual representation of modesty.
Hispanic: accepted as a term that includes people only from Spanish-speaking Latin America, including those countries/territories of the Caribbean or from Spain itself. With this understanding, a Brazilian could be Latino and non-Hispanic, a Spaniard could be Hispanic and non-Latino, and a Colombian could use both terms. However, this is also an imperfect categorization, as there are many Indigenous Peoples from Spanish-speaking countries who do not identify with Spanish culture and do not speak the dominant language.
Historically Black Colleges or Universities (HBCU’s): are schools that were founded on the belief that every individual deserves access to a college or higher education. The Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended defines an HBCU as: “any historically black college or university that was established prior to 1964, whose principal mission was, and is, the education of black Americans, and that is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency or association determined by the Secretary of Education.”
Holocaust: from the Greek word meaning 'burnt offering' it is primarily used to refer to the Nazi German extermination of Jewish (and other) people in Central Europe during World War II.
homonormativity: a view that “homosexuality” (and by extension any alternative sexualities and/or genders) is preferable to heterosexuality. Gay and lesbian capitalists enjoy their hard-won equality (i.e. marriage rights, adoptions, healthcare access, workplace and legal protections) within colonial, capitalist, and imperialist structures where ableism, classism, sexism, racism and many other forms of oppression intersect.
homophobia: the fear, hatred, discomfort with, or mistrust of people who are lesbian or gay. Use “LGBTQ2S+ rights opponents” or a similar phrase instead of “homophobes” when describing people who disagree with LGBTQ2S+ rights activism.
homosexual: a person attracted to members of the same sex. As an adjective, of or relating to sexual and affectionate attraction to a member of the same sex. Please avoid its use because of the clinical history of the word "homosexual," anti-gay extremists aggressively used it to suggest that gay people are diseased or psychologically/ emotionally disordered.
hormone blockers (also referred to as puberty blockers): medical treatment which allows young trans and gender-expansive people to prevent the potentially negative outcomes of going through puberty that do not match their gender identity.
hormone replacement therapy (HRT): treatment that allows trans and gender-expansive people to medically transition or feel more at home in their bodies. Those taking testosterone (masculinizing hormones) may grow more facial/body hair and notice their voices deepening. Those taking estrogen (feminizing hormones) may see some breast growth and decreased libido. Many intersex people take HRT to balance the naturally occurring levels of estrogen and testosterone in their bodies. Benefits of such therapy can include improved mental and physical wellness, and reduced anxiety and dysphoria, for people who experience it.
human rights: standards or expectations held to be common to all.
identity: someone’s sense of who they are as a person, or a social group’s sense of the unique characteristics that they share. Individual identity is complex, and can form by characteristics that you can’t choose, such as age, race, or ethnicity; or by your traits and values, such as open-mindedness or being a direct communicator. Characteristics that change over time, like your occupation, your citizenship, or your political opinions can also shape it.
identity-first language: this language is when the identifying word comes first in the sentence and highlights the person's embrace of their identity. For disabled people, their disability is an aspect of their person who they can’t control, but that they embrace as part of who they are. As an identity category, disability does not merely describe an individual body or mind, but membership within a wider cultural group. Some specific Disability communities, such as Autistic and Deaf communities, will primarily use identity-first language, and may prefer not to refer to themselves as disabled at all. Affirming disability as an identity positions the individual to personally identify as disabled by their own choice, rather than being told they are disabled by an external (usually non-disabled) ‘authority’.
identity group: particular group, culture, or community with which an individual identifies or shares a sense of belonging. Individual agency is crucial for identity development; It should pressure no person to identify with any existing group, but the freedom to self-identify on their own terms.
igloo: means “house” in Inuktitut, is a winter dwelling made of snow. Historically, Inuit across the Arctic lived in igloos before introducing modern, European-style homes. While igloos are no longer the common type of housing used by the Inuit, they remain culturally significant in Arctic communities. Igloos also keep practical value: some hunters and those seeking emergency shelter still use them.
impairment: a condition or diagnosis a person has such as physical or sensory impairment, learning difficulty, neurodiversity or mental health issues. Even though impairments bring their own challenges, having an impairment is not what makes someone a disabled person. We believe that what disables people are the barriers that society creates for people with impairments.
implicit bias (unconscious or hidden bias): negative associations that people unknowingly hold and are expressed automatically, without conscious awareness. Many studies have shown that implicit biases affect individuals’ attitudes and actions, thus creating real-world implications, even though individuals may not even be aware that those biases exist within themselves. Notably, implicit biases have shown to trump individuals’ stated commitments to equality and fairness, producing behaviour that diverges from the explicit attitudes that many people profess. The Implicit Association Test (IAT) is often used to measure implicit biases regarding race, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, and other topics.
inclusion: celebrating, centring, and amplifying the perspectives, voices, values, and needs of people who experience systemic barriers, mistreatment, or disadvantages based on their identities in order to ensure they feel a sense of belonging. Inclusion is not merely tolerating or accommodating differences; it’s about actively valuing and honouring them. Inclusion is also not about surmounting, overcoming, or transcending differences to focus on our common humanity. “Diversity is what we are, and inclusion is what we do.”
Indian: term believed to have originated with Christopher Columbus, who used the word to describe Indigenous Peoples in the Americas. In the late 1400s, Columbus believed he had reached Asia when, in fact, he had arrived in the Caribbean. The term has since persisted, and has been used indiscriminately to refer to all Indigenous Peoples in North, Central and South America (except for the Inuit in the Canadian Arctic, Greenland and Alaska). A term that is now considered outdated and offensive, but has been used historically to identify Indigenous Peoples in South, Central and North America. In Canada, “Indian” also has legal significance. It is used to refer to legally defined identities set out in the Indian Act, such as Indian Status. For some Indigenous Peoples, the term “Indian” confirms their ancestry and protects their historic relationship to the Crown and Canadian Federal Government. For others, the definitions set out in the Indian Act are not affirmations of their identity.
Indian Act: the primary law the Canadian Federal Government uses to administer Indian status, local First Nations governments and the management of reserve land. It also outlines governmental obligations to First Nations peoples. The Indian Act pertains to people with Indian Status; it does not directly reference non-status First Nations people, the Métis or Inuit. First introduced in 1876, the Indian Act subsumed several colonial laws that aimed to eliminate First Nations culture in favour of assimilation into Euro-Canadian society. The Federal Government of Canada has amended the Indian Act several times, (most significantly in 1951 and 1985), with changes mainly focusing on the removal of discriminatory sections. It is a developing, paradoxical document that has enabled trauma, human rights violations, and social and cultural disruption for generations of Indigenous Peoples.
Indigenous: from the Latin word indigena, which means “sprung from the land; native.” Therefore, using “Indigenous” reinforces land claims and encourages territory acknowledgements, a practice that links Indigenous Peoples to their land and respects their claims over it. "Indigenous" is an umbrella term for First Nations (status and non-status), Métis and Inuit. "Indigenous" refers to these groups, either collectively or separately, and is the term used in international contexts, e.g., the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Recently, used more with activism than government policy and so has emerged, for many, as the preferred term. Over 370 million people across 70 countries worldwide identify as Indigenous. They belong to over 5,000 distinct groups and speak over 4,000 languages. “Indigenous Peoples” is the accepted way of referring to them all as a collective group - the equivalent of saying “the British”, or “Australians”. In international law, “Indigenous” acknowledges that a person’s ancestors lived on particular lands before new people arrived and became dominant. Indigenous Peoples have their own unique customs and cultures, and often face hard realities such as having their land taken away, and being treated as second-class citizens.
Indigenous Land Acknowledgement: this is a time to give thanks, consider our individual and collective role in the stewardship of Mother Earth and in building relationships between Indigenous Peoples and communities and the rest of the country. To be meaningful and respectful, a territorial acknowledgement needs to be intentional.
Indigenous Peoples: in Turtle Island (Canada) this refers collectively to First Nations, Inuit and Métis people. The word recognizes the fact that Indigenous Peoples are the original inhabitants. However, “Indigenous Peoples” is not a perfect term. It’s still an umbrella term for a large group of people, and we should only use it in situations where you are addressing all Indigenous groups as a collective. If possible, always use Nation-specific terms, particularly for territory acknowledgements.
individual racism: the beliefs, attitudes, and actions of individuals that support or perpetuate racism; can occur at both a conscious and unconscious level, and can be active or passive.
inner city: we have used the term inner city as a euphemism for lower-income residential districts, sometimes — but not only — referring to Black neighbourhoods in a downtown centre. Instead, use neutral adjectives like the city centre, downtown urban when referring to city neighbourhoods and words like under-resourced or low-income when referring to neighbourhoods or communities with high poverty rates.
institutional power: the ability or official authority to decide what is best for others. The ability to decide who will have access to resources. The capacity to exercise control over others.
intellectualism: the principle that reason and logic are the ultimate criteria of knowledge, and that deliberate action results from a process of conscious or subconscious reasoning. It is the excessive emphasis on abstract or intellectual matters, especially with a lack of proper consideration for emotions. Intellectualism is a major component of the academic-industrial complex and promotes professional knowledge and status over lived experiences.
interdependent: a way of saying that the various forms and systems of oppression are not separate, and can’t be isolated into distinct categories, to be addressed on their own. Oppression is a network of intersecting and related forms of domination, and it must resist the oppression of one group alongside the oppression of others.
intergenerational (transgenerational) trauma: historic and contemporary trauma that has compounded over time and is passed from one generation to the next. The negative cumulative effects can affect individuals, families, communities and entire populations, resulting in a legacy of physical, psychological, and economic disparities that persist across generations, e.g. for Indigenous Peoples in Turtle Island (North America), the historical trauma includes trauma created because of imposing assimilation policies and laws aimed at attempted cultural genocide and continues to be built upon by contemporary forms of colonialism and discrimination.
internalized oppression: the process whereby people in the target group make oppression internal and personal by coming to believe that the lies, prejudices, and stereotypes about them are true. Members of target groups exhibit internalized oppression when they alter their attitudes, behaviours, speech, and self-confidence to reflect the stereotypes and norms of the dominant group. Internalized oppression can create low self-esteem, self-doubt, and even self-loathing. It can also be projected outward as fear, criticism, and distrust of members of one’s target group.
internalized racism: the conscious and unconscious development of ideas, beliefs, actions, and behaviours that show one’s acceptance of the dominant society’s racist tropes and stereotypes about their own race. Internalized racism is the simultaneous hating of oneself and/or one’s own race and valuing of the dominant race. Internalized racism is an individual’s system of oppression in response to all forms of racism.
intersectionality: coined by Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989, this term describes how race, class, gender, and other aspects of our identity “intersect” overlap and interact with one another, informing how individuals simultaneously experience oppression and privilege in their daily lives interpersonally and systemically. Intersectionality promotes the idea that aspects of our identity do not work in a silo. Intersectionality provides a basis for understanding how these individual identity markers work with one another.
intersex: the current term used to refer to people who are biologically between the medically expected definitions of male and female. This can be through variations in hormones, chromosomes, internal or external genitalia, or any combination of any or all primary and/or secondary sex characteristics. While many intersex people are noticed as intersex at birth, many are not. As intersex is about biological sex, it is distinct from gender identity and sexual orientation. An intersex person can be of any gender identity and can also be of any sexual orientation and any romantic orientation.
Inuit: Inuktitut for “the people'' — are an Indigenous People, most of whom inhabit the northern regions of Turtle Island (Canada). We know an Inuit person as an Inuk. We know the Inuit homeland as Inuit Nunangat, which refers to the land, water and ice in the Arctic region. There are eight main Inuit ethnic groups: the Labradormiut (Labrador), Nunavimmiut (Ungava), Baffin Island, Iglulingmuit (Iglulik), Kivallirmiut (Caribou), Netsilingmiut (Netsilik), Inuinnait (Copper) and Inuvialuit or Western Arctic Inuit (who replaced the Mackenzie Inuit).
Islamophobia: the irrational fear or hatred of Islam, Muslims, Islamic traditions and practices, and, more broadly, those who ‘appear’ to be Muslim. Besides individual acts of intolerance and racial profiling, Islamophobia can lead to viewing and treating Muslims as a greater security threat on an institutional, systemic and societal level.
Jew: a member of the people and cultural community whose traditional religion is Judaism and who trace their origins through the ancient Hebrew people of Israel to Abraham.
Jim Crow/Jim Crow laws: the term “Jim Crow” typically refers to repressive laws and customs once used to restrict Black Americans' rights, but the origin of the name itself actually dates back to before the Civil War. In the early 1830s, the white actor Thomas Dartmouth “Daddy” Rice propelled to stardom for performing minstrel routines as the fictional “Jim Crow,” a caricature of a clumsy, dimwitted Black enslaved man. Rice claimed to have first created the character after witnessing an elderly Black man singing a tune called “Jump Jim Crow” in Louisville, Kentucky. He later appropriated the Jim Crow persona into a minstrel act where he donned blackface and performed jokes and songs in a stereotypical dialect. Jim Crow’s popularity as a fictional character eventually died out, but in the late 19th century the phrase found new life as a blanket term for a wave of anti-Black laws laid down after Reconstruction. Some of the most common laws included restrictions on voting rights, ensuring that different meals be prepared for white and Black children in school, and ensuring that white female nurses were not allowed in rooms/wards with Black people. Many Southern states required literacy tests or limited suffrage to those whose grandfathers had also had the right to vote. Other laws banned interracial relationships, while clauses allowed businesses to separate their Black and white clientele.
Juneteenth: the oldest known celebration of enslavement ending. From its Galveston, Texas, origin in 1865, observing June 19th as Black Emancipation Day commemorates freedom and emphasizes education and achievement. It is a day, a week and, in some areas, a month marked with celebrations, speakers, picnics and family gatherings.
justice: the process required to move us from an unfair, unequal, or inequitable state to one which is fair, equal, or equitable, depending on the specific content. Justice is a transformative practices that relies on the entire community to respond to past and current harm when it occurs in society. Through justice, we seek proactive enforcement of policies, practices and attitudes that produce equitable access, opportunities, treatment and outcomes for all regardless of the various identities that one holds.
karaoke: originated in Japan in the 1970s and means “empty orchestra.” In karaoke bars, patrons sing along to recordings of the instrumental parts of popular songs. Karaoke has become a popular way to socialize and relax in other Asian countries, as well.
Kimono: "thing to wear"–from the verb "to wear (on the shoulders)" (着, ki), and the noun "thing" (物, mono) is a traditional Japanese garment and the national dress of Japan. The kimono is a T-shaped, wrapped-front garment with square sleeves and a rectangular body, and is worn left side wrapped over right, unless the wearer is deceased. The kimono is traditionally worn with an obi, and is commonly worn with accessories such as zōri sandals and tabi socks.
Kung Fu (Gong Fu): the term comprises two characters: the first, Kung (功), can mean skillful work, hard training, or endeavor. The second, Fu (夫), means time spent. Together they mean “time spent at skillful work, endeavor or hard training”. In no way does Kung Foo express the totality of Chinese martial arts, but because training in Chinese martial arts requires a lot of time and hard training, the term somehow came to be used to describe the practice of martial arts.
kyriarchy: a social system or set of interconnected, interacting, and self-extending systems built around domination, oppression and submission, in which a single individual might be oppressed in some relationships and privileged in others. An intersectional extension of the idea of patriarchy beyond gender. Kyriarchy encompasses sexism, racism, homophobia, economic injustice, and other forms of dominating hierarchies in which the subordination of one person or group to another is internalized and institutionalized. Coined by Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza in 1992.
lateral violence: defined as displaced violence directed against one’s peers rather than adversaries. This construct is one way of explaining marginalized-on-marginalized violence in “developed nations”. It is a cycle of abuse and its roots lie in factors such as colonization, oppression, intergenerational trauma and the ongoing experiences of racism and discrimination.
Latin America: sometimes considered a geographic region that includes the entire Caribbean, i.e., all Western Hemisphere countries south of the United States, regardless of language spoken. It is defined by others as a region where a Romance language (Spanish, Portuguese, or French) predominates, or as the countries with a history of Iberian (Spanish and Portuguese) colonialism. Most people in the region speak Spanish or Portuguese, although French, English, Dutch, and Kreyol are also spoken in parts of the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. Latin America's population has a high proportion of multiracial people because of its colonial history and encounters between Europeans, Indigenous Peoples, and Africans. Before Christopher Columbus’s arrival in 1492, a wide range of Indigenous groups had settled for millennia in Latin America, some of whom (Aztecs, Mayans, Incas) boasted advanced civilizations. The Spanish were the first Europeans to arrive in the Americas, followed soon after by the Portuguese, who colonized Brazil. Landing first in the Caribbean, the Spanish soon expanded their explorations and conquest to Central America, Mexico, and South America.
Latino/a: understood as shorthand for the Spanish word latinoamericano (or the Portuguese latino-americano) and refers to (almost) anyone born in or with ancestors from Latin America and living in the U.S., including Brazilians. "Latino" does not include speakers of Romance languages from Europe, such as Italians or Spaniards, and some people have (tenuously) argued that it excludes Spanish speakers from the Caribbean. Although people from French Guiana are sometimes accepted as Latino since French shares linguistic roots with Spanish and Portuguese, there is much debate about whether people from English-speaking Belize and Guyana and Dutch-speaking Suriname truly fit under the category since their cultures and histories are so distinct. Latina is is the female version.
Latinx (pronounced Latin-ex or la-TEEN-ex): an inclusive, gender-neutral term-sometimes used in place of the gendered, binary terms Latino or Latina. Spanish is a gendered language, so by replacing the gendered Latina and Latino with the gender-inclusive Latinx, folks can exist in their own language and community.
lesbian: refers to a woman who is emotionally, romantically, and/or physically attracted to other women. People who are lesbians need not have had any sexual experience: Attraction and self-identification determine orientation, not the gender or sexual orientation of one’s partner.
LGBTQ2S+: an acronym that stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, and Two-Spirit. LGBTQ2S+ is only one acronym used to describe the diverse communities of people who don’t identify as heterosexual and/or cisgender. To better represent this diversity, some people prefer other acronyms, including LGBTQQIP2SAA (which stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Pansexual, Two-Spirit, Androgynous and Asexual) and 2SLGBTQQIA (Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex and Allies).
liberation: a framework of action guided by the premise that the only way to end systemic oppression is by dismantling the system itself, as opposed to giving people equitable resources, so they can exist under a system that is oppressive.
liberatory consciousness: a mindfulness of systems of oppressions and how individuals have been and are continually socialized to play roles in maintaining these systems. It empowers individuals to take actions to interrupt oppressive acts and institutions with the goal of deconstructing these systems. It includes awareness, analysis, action & accountability/allyship.
lifestyle: inaccurately used and often an offensive term used to describe LGBTQ2S+ people’s sexual orientation and gender expression/identity as a “choice.” Sexual orientation may be part of a broader lifestyle but is not one, just as there is no “straight lifestyle.”
lived experience: to value the personal experiences of individuals as much as quantitative data, e.g., believing narratives of discrimination against LGBTQ2S+ people persisting even if they trump larger narratives of acceptance.
lover: term preferred by some individuals for a gay, lesbian, bisexual or heterosexual person’s sexual partner.
lynching: one way white people terrorized Black people under Jim Crow was through lynching. The origins of the word lynching are disputed. Some claim they named it for Captain William Lynch, the head of an informal tribunal in Virginia in 1780 that punished suspected British Loyalists during the American Revolutionary War. It described this process as “Lynch’s law.” Others claim the name comes from a different Virginian active around the same time, one Charles Lynch, who is also associated with a “lynch law” similarly connected to the suppression and incarceration of Loyalists. Whatever its exact origin, the 1810s found Lynch law, and lynch and lynching by the 1830s. By the turn of the 19th century, lynching was specifically referring to the murder of Black people and other People of Colour blamed for some crime by white mobs with no official authority. One of the first lynchings recorded occurred in 1835 in St. Louis, when a Black man accused of killing a deputy sheriff was chained to a tree and burned to death publicly in front of a crowd. By the end of the 19th century, the term was widely used to describe mob rule and public execution by hanging, particularly in the South.
mainstream: defined as the centre or in-group. The mainstream sets the tone for a group or organization or society, its own preferences become the norms for the group, and it provides most of the leadership for carrying out the mission of the group. The mainstream may or may not be conscious of its role and higher status. When we talk about the mainstream, we contrast it with the marginalized.
marginalization: refers to a long-term, structural process of systemic discrimination that creates a class of disadvantaged minorities. These groups become permanently confined to the margins of society; their status is continually reproduced because of the various dimensions of exclusion, particularly in the labour market, but also from full and meaningful participation in society.
marginalized: defined as excluded, ignored, or relegated to the outer edge of a group/society/community. People are marginalized in societies or communities because of the effects of structural inequality. Someone may marginalize a person or community based on gender, skin colour, income level, education, age, sexual orientation, religion, race, ethnicity, immigration status, language, occupation, heritage and/or other factors.
Martin Luther King Jr (MLK): a Baptist minister and civil-rights activist who had a seismic impact on race relations in the United States, beginning in the mid-1950s. Among his many efforts, King headed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Through his activism and inspirational speeches, he played a pivotal role in ending the legal segregation of African American citizens in the United States, as well as the creation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. King won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, among several other honours. He continues to be remembered as one of the most influential and inspirational African American leaders in history.
mental illness: characterized by alterations in thinking, mood or behaviour associated with significant distress and impaired functioning. Mental illness is treatable. The vast majority of individuals with mental illness continue to function in their daily lives.
merit: a concept that at face value appears to be a neutral measure of academic achievement and qualifications; however, merit is embedded in the ideology of whiteness and upholds race-based structural inequality. Merit protects white privilege under the guise of standards (i.e., the use of standardized tests that are biased against racialized people) and as highlighted by anti-affirmative action forces. Merit implies that it deemed white people better qualified and more worthy, but denied opportunities due to race-conscious policies. However, this understanding of merit and worthiness cannot recognize systemic oppression, racism, and generational privilege afforded to white people.
meritocracy: belief in the flawed idea that hard work and talent alone are all that’s needed to achieve success. Challenges like implicit bias, structural inequality and varying degrees of privilege or disadvantage mean meritocracy isn’t currently a reality.
Métis: a term defined by the Métis National Council as one who self-identifies as Métis, who is distinct from First Nation and Inuit, who is of historic Métis Nation ancestry and accepted by and belonging to a Métis community. The Métis are one of three recognized Indigenous Peoples in Canada. The term Métis refers to a collective of cultures and ethnic identities that resulted from unions between Indigenous Peoples and European people in Turtle Island (Canada).
Michelle Obama: a lawyer and writer who was the first lady of the United States from 2009 to 2017. She is the wife of the 44th U.S. President, Barack Obama. As the First Lady, Michelle Obama focused her attention on social issues such as poverty, healthy living and education.
Michif (also Mitchif, Mechif, Michif-Cree, Métif, Métchif): a language spoken by Métis peoples mostly in parts of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, North Dakota and Montana. Mischief is mainly a combination of Cree and French, but the language also borrows from English and other Indigenous languages, including Ojibwe. In 2016, Statistics Canada reported that 1,170 people identified as Mischief speakers, making it an endangered language. While Michif is the most commonly spoken Métis language, it is not the only one; others include French Cree, French Mischief, Bungi and Brayet.
microaggressions: brief, everyday (and often unconscious) slights, insults, indignities and denigrating messages sent to oppressed identities by well-intentioned privileged identities who are unaware of the hidden messages being communicated. They can feel small or subtle to the person engaging in the microaggression, but the impact can be large for the recipient. If experienced chronically, a person can feel, “death by a thousand tiny cuts.”
minority: historically referred to non-white racial groups, showing that they were numerically smaller than the dominant white majority. Defining People of Colour as “minorities” is not appropriate because of changing demographics and how it reinforces ideas of inferiority and marginalization of a group of people. Defining people by how they self-identify is often preferable and more respectful.
misgender: to intentionally or unintentionally refer to a person, relate to a person, or use language to describe a person who does not align with their gender identity. This often occurs when people make assumptions about a person’s gender. Misgendering can be very painful for someone to experience, whether or not intentional.
misogynoir: a term coined by queer Black feminist, Moya Bailey to describe misogyny directed towards Black women where race and gender both play roles in bias.
Misogyny: dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women, those that identify as women and many, women-centered initiatives.
mispronoun: to refer to a person with incorrect pronouns. This term is less common than misgendering, as pronouns are often an important aspect of people’s genders. This may be unintentional and without ill intent, or can be a malicious expression of bias. Regardless of intent, mispronouncing has a harmful impact.
Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls (MMIWG): an initiative that originated from a group called Native Women’s Wilderness (a nonprofit based in Boulder, Colorado). The group seeks to bring attention to the disproportionate rates at which Indigenous women are victims of violence and human trafficking. Indigenous women and girls are 12 times more likely to experience violence than any other population in Canada and this violence often results in more serious harm.
mixed-race: denoting or relating to a person whose parents belong to different racial or ethnic groups.
moccasin: loosely translates to “footwear” in various Algonquian languages, such as Plains Ojibwe (makisin or makizinan), Siksika (niitsitsikin) and Plains Cree (maskisin). A type of shoe, boot or slipper, Indigenous Peoples historically made moccasins out of animal skins of, for example, caribou, deer, moose, elk and bison. In areas with harsh winters, such as the Subarctic, Indigenous Peoples designed moccasins with soft soles, to fit easily into snowshoes. In the Plains, however, Indigenous Peoples added hard soles to their moccasins, which helped with walking over rocky land. During the fur trade, voyageurs and fur traders adopted moccasins (as well as other Indigenous apparel, such as buckskin pants and hats) because of their durability and functionality.
model minority: a term created by sociologist William Peterson to describe the Japanese community, whom he saw as being able to overcome oppression because of their cultural values. While individuals employing the model minority trope may think they are being complimentary, in fact, they relate the term to colourism and its root, anti-Blackness. The model minority myth creates an understanding of ethnic groups, including Asian Americans, as a monolith, or as a mass whose parts we cannot distinguish from each other. We can understand the model minority myth as a tool that white supremacy uses to put People of Colour against each other in order to protect its status.
monogamous: a term referring to individuals who are intimate or involved romantically with one person at a time.
monolith: refers to a large single upright block of stone, formally, and a group or organization with unified and unchanging attributes, informally. In context, the term monolith is used to show that “(group of people) are not a monolith.” It means that members of a group have varying experiences, and we should not take the voice of one member of the group as a representation of the experiences of all members of that group.
monosexism: defined as a cultural or social framework, often implicit, wherein all human beings are sexually attracted to only one sex and this is the norm. Monosexism leads to the marginalization of people sexually attracted to people of diverse genders either by dismissing them, by presenting a favourable bias towards monosexual people, or both.
Motown: formerly Black-owned record company that became the most commercially successful and culturally influential of the 1960s, producing a distinct musical style and many singing icons. Motown Records is now part of the Universal Music Group. It can also be an adjective to describe the musical style or city in which it originated, Detroit.
multiculturalism: has been a Canadian Federal Policy since 1971 and passed the Canadian Multiculturalism Act in 1988. Multiculturalism promotes the acceptance of different cultures, encourages people to live together peacefully, and respects the right of everyone to value their own ethnicity and cultural background. It encourages Canadians to recognize contributions made by the diversity of Canadians. However, saying that Turtle Island (Canada) is a multicultural society can sometimes hide the existence of discrimination and its impact on marginalized groups.
multiracial: a person who identifies as coming from two or more racial groups; a person whose biological parents come from different racial groups.
Muslim: meaning "one who submits to God." More commonly, the term describes any person who accepts the creed and the teachings of Islam. The word "Muhammadan" is a pejorative and offensive misnomer, as it violates Muslims’ most basic understanding of their creed — Muslims do not worship Muhammad, nor do they view him as the founder of the religion. The word "Moslem" is also incorrect since it is a corruption of the word Muslim.
National Inquiry’s Final Report: report which reveals persistent and deliberate human and Indigenous rights violations and abuses are the root cause of Canada’s staggering rates of violence against Indigenous women, girls and LGBTQ2+ people. The two-volume report calls for transformative legal and social changes to resolve the crisis that has devastated Indigenous communities across the country. The Final Report comprises the truths of over 2,380 family members, survivors of violence, experts and Knowledge Keepers shared over two years of cross-country public hearings and evidence gathering. It delivers 231 individual Calls for Justice directed at governments, institutions, social service providers, industries and all Canadians.
Native: sometimes used to refer to Indigenous Peoples — is considered outdated and offensive by many because of its vagueness.
Native American: during the latter half of the 20th century and the rise of the Red Power movement, the United States government responded by proposing the use of the term "Native American" to recognize the primacy of Indigenous Peoples' tenure in the country.
Negro: outdated term and known as offensive to use unless for very specific purposes, e.g. National Council of Negro Women or Negro National Anthem. The word “Negro” was adopted from the Spanish and Portuguese and first recorded in the mid-16th century. It remained the standard term between the 17th-19th centuries and was used by prominent Black campaigners such as W. E. B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington in the early 20th century. Since the Black Power Movement of the 1960s, however, when Black was favoured as the term to express racial pride, “Negro” and related words such as “Negress” were dropped and now are outdated and offensive.
neurodiversity: refers to the variation in the human brain regarding sociability, learning, attention, mood and other mental functions. The term was first coined by Judy Singer, an Autistic sociologist. The neurodiversity movement stresses that we should value neurological differences and add value to the workplace.
New World: a term given by Europeans to North and South America and the Caribbean Islands, in contrast to the “Old World” of Europe, Asia and Africa; when they landed in the Americas, Europeans considered them to be “new lands”, downplaying the status of the Indigenous Peoples already present.
nibling: a gender-neutral term for niece/nephew.
niqab: a veil worn by some women who are Muslims; it covers all of their faces except the eyes.
non-binary: refers to people who do not subscribe to the gender binary. They might exist between or beyond the man-woman binary. Some use the term exclusively, while others may use it interchangeably with terms like genderqueer, genderfluid, gender non-conforming, gender diverse, or gender expansive. It can be combined with other descriptors, e.g. nonbinary woman or trans-masc nonbinary. Sometimes abbreviated as NB or Enby. Avoid the term NB which has historically been used to mean non-Black.
Non-Status Indians: First Nations peoples who are not registered with the Canadian Federal Government. In some cases, they do not qualify for status based on the requirements set out by the federal government in the Indian Act. In other cases, Non-Status Indians have lost their status as a result of marriage to a Non-Status person, enfranchisement or other legal restrictions. Not legally recognized under the Indian Act, Non-Status Indians do not enjoy the same rights and privileges as Status Indians. Being legally defined as Indian does not define one’s ancestral or cultural identity. In April 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that “Indian,” as defined by section 91 (24) of the Constitution, includes Non-Status Indians, as well as the Métis. However, this does not mean that Non-Status people are now Status Indians. The Indian Act, which continues to define Indian Status, was not changed by this ruling. This 2016 judgment means that Non-Status people fall under the legislative jurisdiction of the Canadian Federal Government.
norm: an ideal standard binding upon the members of a group and guiding, control, or regulate power and acceptable behaviour.
obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): a disorder in which people have recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas or sensations (obsessions) that make them feel driven to do something repetitively (compulsions). Repetitive behaviours, such as handwashing, checking on things or cleaning, can significantly interfere with a person’s daily activities and social interactions. Many people without OCD have distressing thoughts or repetitive behaviours. However, these thoughts and behaviours rarely disrupt daily life. For people with OCD, thoughts are persistent, and behaviours are rigid. Not performing the behaviours commonly causes great distress.
opposite sex: an offensive and inaccurate for people who don't identify as male or female or who see gender as a continuum rather than a binary construct. Use the phrase “different sex” instead.
oppression: the combination of prejudice and institutional power which creates a system that discriminates against some groups (often called “target groups”) and benefits other groups (often called “dominant groups”). E.g. racism, sexism, heterosexism, ableism, classism, ageism, and anti-Semitism. These systems enable dominant groups to exert control over target groups by limiting their rights, freedom, and access to basic resources such as health care, education, employment, and housing.
oreo: disparaging term for someone deemed to have shunned his or her Black culture and who acts white. Referring to the cookie, meaning being black on the outside and white on the inside.
Oriental: a term for the East, traditionally comprising anything that belongs to the Eastern world, in relation to Europe. It is the antonym of the Occident, the “Western World”. In English, it is largely a metonym for, and coterminous with, the continent of Asia, loosely classified into the Near East, Middle East and the Far East: the geographical and ethnocultural regions now known as West Asia, South Asia, East Asia, and Southeast Asia. Originally, the term Orient was used to designate the Near East, and later its meaning developed and expanded, designating also the Middle East or the Far East. The term oriental is often used to describe objects from the Orient. However, given its Eurocentric connotations and shifting, inaccurate definition through the ages, it is considered to be an offensive term when used to refer to people of East Asia, and Southeast Asia descent.
othering: the perception or placing of a person or a group outside and/or in opposition to what we consider being mainstream. A conscious or unconscious assumption that a certain identified group poses a threat to the favoured or dominant group causes “othering.”
out: a term that describes people who openly self-identify as LGBTQ2S+ in their private, public, and/or professional lives. There are many states of being out; individuals can be out only to themselves, close friends, or everyone. Some transgender people prefer to use the term disclose.
outing (someone): when someone reveals another person’s sexuality or gender identity to an individual or group, often without the person’s consent or approval. Outing someone can have serious repercussions on employment, economic stability, personal safety or religious or family situations.
Pan-Africanism: describes the theory relating to the desire to educate all peoples of the African diaspora about their common plight and the connections between them. Some theorists promote linking all African countries across the continent through a common government, language, ideology, or belief.
panic attack: a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions when there is no real danger or apparent cause. Panic attacks can be very frightening. When panic attacks occur, you might think you're losing control, having a heart attack or even dying.
pansexuality: a term reflective of those who feel they are sexually, emotionally, and spiritually capable of falling in love with all genders.
partner: a commonly accepted term for people in a committed relationship. Frequently used in gay or lesbian relationships but is not limited to the LGBTQ+ community.
passing: the ability of an individual to be regarded as their chosen gender, i.e. a trans man “passing” as male. For example, a person who was assigned male at birth and transitions to have their outward appearance/body match their gender identity passes when others stop misgendering her as a man. Passing is therefore about how a trans person is perceived in public and is context-dependent.
patriarchy: one of the most influential systems of power in our society that centres, privileges, and prioritizes masculinity. We practice the patriarchy systemically in the ways and methods through which we distribute power in society (jobs and positions of power given to men in government, policy, criminal justice, etc.) While also influencing how we interact with one another interpersonally (gender expectations, sexual dynamics, space-taking, etc.), As a colonial construct, patriarchy operates powerfully and hierarchically through exercising and enforcing the gender binary and white supremacy. E.g. White cis masculinity exercises power over not only women, trans folks, and children but also other forms of masculinity (trans, racialized, poor, disabled, etc.).
pay equity: compensating employees the same when they perform the same or similar job duties while accounting for other factors, such as their experience level, job performance and tenure with the employer. It ensures the fairness of compensation paid to employees for performing comparable work, without regard to gender or race or other categories protected by law (such as national origin or sexual orientation). It includes fairness both in terms of base pay and in total compensation, including bonuses, overtime, employee benefits, and opportunities for advancement. Pay equity does not mean that we pay all employees the same. Pay equity focuses on ensuring those employees performing comparable work are receiving comparable compensation.
People/Person of Colour (POC/PoC): not a term that refers to the real biological or scientific distinction between people, but the common experience of being targeted and oppressed by racism. While each oppressed group is affected by racism differently and each group maintains its own unique identity and culture, there is also the recognition that racism has the potential to unite oppressed people in a collective of resistance. For this reason, many individuals who identify as members of racially oppressed groups also claim the political identity of being People of Colour. This in no way diminishes their specific cultural or racial identity; rather, it is an affirmation of the multiple layers of the identity of every individual. This term also refrains from the subordinate connotation of triggering labels like “non-white” and “minority.”
people-first language (person-first language): a type of linguistic prescription which puts a person before a diagnosis, describing what a person "has" rather than asserting what a person "is". The intention is that a person is seen foremost as a person and only secondly as a person with some trait.
perceived sexual orientation: the assumption of a person's sexual orientation without knowing their true sexual orientation. Perceptions on sexual orientation are often predicated on stereotypes relating to gender expression.
performative allyship: when someone from a non-marginalized group (white, male, cis, etc.) professes to support and solidarity with a marginalized group in a way that either isn't helpful or that actively harms that group. Performative allyship refuses to engage with the complexity below the surface or say anything new. It refuses to acknowledge any personal responsibility for the systemic issues that provided the context for the relevant tragedy.
period poverty: when a person cannot afford period products causing them to resort to alternate means to manage their periods. 68% say they feel their period prevents them from full participation in activities. 55% say they have missed school or work or have avoided social activities because of their period. Nearly one in seven youth (living in Turtle Island) have either left school early or missed school entirely because they did not have access to period products. Period poverty can lead people to use the same pad or tampon for an extended period. Wearing the same pad for multiple days may cause an infection. In addition, leaving a tampon in for too long can lead to health risks such as Toxic Shock Syndrome. In extreme cases, some people who can’t afford period products may resort to using items like socks, toilet paper, dirty clothes or newspapers which could also lead to infection. Society has socialized us to understand reproductive health, including periods, assuming a person’s gender shows their reproductive organs — which is not the case. Not all women menstruate and not all people who menstruate are women. The cost of period products can be prohibitive for many and that having a period can impede a person's ability to go to school, attend a job interview, or take advantage of another opportunity that could lead to economic advancement. So when we consider trans folks are more likely to live in poverty than cisgender people, it’s easy to see how lack of access to period products falls especially hard on trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people. Next time you’re making a donation to your local food bank, consider adding a package of period products.
personal gender pronoun: the pronoun or set of pronouns that an individual uses and would like others to use when referring to them. Replaces the term preferred gender pronoun, which incorrectly implies that their use is optional.
plantation: large farms in the colonies that used enslaved people to harvest cotton, rice, indigo, sugar, tobacco and other farm produce for trade and export.
Pocahontas: On March 21, 1617, a 21-year-old woman from Virginia’s Pamunkey tribe died at Gravesend, England. She went by many names—Matoaka, Amonute, and, at her passing, Rebecca—but she’s best remembered today as Pocahontas. Her death was unexpected: Pocahontas had arrived in England the previous June and spent months touring the country, celebrated by the press as an “Indian princess.” Pocahontas’s tale of trans-Atlantic travel, her marriage to the Englishman John Rolfe, and her alleged conversion to Christianity became part of an interesting cultural narrative that helped promote white colonial interests, especially in the Virginia Company. Many Americans would likely claim familiarity with the life of Pocahontas, despite the absence of evidence to back up some of the more popular details of her tale. For starters, it’s not clear that Pocahontas ever met Smith, much less saved his life. During the 17th century, Pocahontas was a common name among the Pamunkey, the largest and most powerful community in the once-mighty Powhatan chiefdom. Smith himself didn’t mention Pocahontas in his initial accounts of the Powhatan Indians. Not until Pocahontas’s tour of England did Smith romanticize his encounter with her, which he later elaborated on in his 1624 book, The Generall Historie of Virginia. While Pocahontas married the Virginia colonist Rolfe and gave birth to a son, Thomas, there’s no archival evidence that she ever converted to Christianity or was baptized. If Pocahontas expressed an interest in Christian values, those expressions were more likely examples of her acting as a diplomat for her people and trying to bind the English to trade networks dominated by the Powhatan—contrary to the pure enlightenment narrative peddled by the British press at the time. With so few well-known, realistic images of Indigenous Peoples available today, Pocahontas remains stuck as a symbol—whether as an agent of peace or an object of mockery.
police brutality: is the excessive and unwarranted use of force by law enforcement. It is an extreme form of police misconduct or violence and is a civil rights violation. It also refers to a situation where officers exercise undue or excessive force against a person. Police violence includes but is not limited to physical or verbal harassment, physical or mental injury, property damage, the inaction of police officers, and sometimes, death. These acts of colonial violence on Indigenous bodies continue to happen in Canada. Both Indigenous Peoples and Black people are overwhelmingly overrepresented in police-involved deaths in Canada. Between 2007 and 2017, Indigenous Peoples represented one-third of people shot to death by RCMP police officers. In Canada, a Black person is over 20 times more likely to be shot and killed by the police compared to a white person.
political correctness: in theory, political correctness simply functions as a neutral, descriptive reference to the principle of avoiding utterances and actions that can marginalize or offend certain groups of people. However, because it includes the word “correctness,” political correctness can also be used and perceived as a normative expression. The noun “correctness” connotes approval and radiates authority. It shows, with an imperative tone, that something should be done particularly. The term political correctness can evoke the feeling of being talked down to and even subordinated.
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): an anxiety disorder that can develop after traumatic events such as military combat, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, serious accidents, traumatic brain injury, physical and sexual assault in adults or children, and any other traumatic experience. Someone can be diagnosed with PTSD a month or more after the traumatic event has occurred.
potlatch (from the Chinook word Patshatl): a ceremony integral to the governing structure, culture and spiritual traditions of various First Nations living on the Northwest Coast (such as the Kwakwaka’wakw, Nuu-chah-nulth and Coast Salish) and the Dene living in parts of the interior western subarctic. While the practice and formality of the ceremony differed among First Nations, they commonly held it on the occasion of important social events, such as marriages, births and funerals. A potlatch might last for several days and would involve feasting, spirit dances, singing and theatrical demonstrations.
power: the ability to define, set, or change situations. Power can manifest as personal or collective self-determination. Power is the ability to influence others to believe, behave, or adopt values as those in power desire.
powwow: a celebration of dance, drums and songs - they are a tradition, a festival, a competition, a reunion, an arts and crafts venue, a food fair - one word cannot encompass the many facets of a powwow; they are a feast for all five senses. Under the Indian Act, they forbid powwows unless sanctioned by the government for parades and celebrations. Following amendments to the Indian Act in 1951, powwows have been held without interference. Today, powwows are a sheer celebration of being Indigenous and a testament to the tensile strength of the connection First Nations have for their cultural heritage.
preference: a specific set of desires people have in romantic, emotional and/or sexual partners. People’s sexual orientations are not preferences, but they can have preferences (e.g. having a “type”) in the people they become involved with. Preferences can be logistical (e.g. lives within a certain distance, not looking for a relationship) and interest-based (e.g. likes to stay in, enjoys long walks on the beach). They can also be influenced by personal and systemic prejudices (e.g. not considering people whose gender expressions do not conform to conventional standards of that gender, people whose bodies are not conventionally attractive, or people with other marginalized identities). People can have their own preferences but should ask why they hold these preferences in order to make sure they are not reproducing inequalities.
prejudice: a prejudgment or unjustifiable, and usually negative attitude of one type of individual or group toward another group and its members. Someone typically bases such negative attitudes on unsupported generalizations (or stereotypes) that deny the right of individual members of certain groups to be recognized and treated as individuals with individual characteristics.
presenting: (e.g. feminine presenting/masculine presenting) describes the physical presentation of an individual, often including clothes, hair, makeup, etc. This can include androgyny as a way of presenting oneself. Presenting does not describe a person’s gender or sexuality. A straight man may present feminine, a queer woman may present feminine, a pansexual nonbinary person may present feminine.
Pride: a term used regarding the LGBT2S+ community. Not being ashamed of oneself and/or showing your pride to others by ‘coming out’, marching in the Pride parade, etc., being honest and comfortable about who you are.
Pride Day: short for LGBTQ2S+ pride, this term is commonly used to show the celebrations commemorating the Stonewall Inn riots of June 28, 1969. Pride events typically take place in June.
privilege: privilege operates on personal, interpersonal, cultural, and institutional levels and gives advantages, favours, and benefits to members of dominant groups at the expense of members of target groups. Privilege is characteristically invisible to people who have it. People in dominant groups often believe that they have earned the privileges that they enjoy or that everyone could have access to these privileges if only they worked to earn them. In fact, privileges are unearned, and granted to people in the dominant groups whether they want those privileges, and regardless of their stated intent. Unlike targets of oppression, people in dominant groups are frequently unaware that they are members of the dominant group because of the privilege of being able to see themselves as persons rather than stereotypes.
prosthetic: referring to a prosthesis, an artificial substitute or replacement of a part of the body such as a tooth, eye, a facial bone, the palate, a hip, a knee or another joint, the leg, or arm. We designed a prosthesis for functional or cosmetic reasons or both. Typical prostheses for joints are the hip, knee, elbow, ankle, and finger joints. Prosthetic implants can be parts of the joint such as a unilateral knee.
QTBIPOC (Queer, Trans, Black, Indigenous People of Colour): acronym developed as a way for folks to highlight the specific needs of BIPOC folks within the LGBTQIA+ community. QTBIPOC folks must navigate the effects of both racism and anti-LGBTQIA+ discrimination.
queer: originally used as an insult for gay people, this is now being reclaimed by many sexual and/or gender minorities. It is used as an umbrella term by people who are not heterosexual and/or not cisgender and is increasing being used to describe non-normative identities and politics. Use this term with caution as many people still associate the word queer with negative experiences and connotations.
queerbaiting: a marketing technique in which media creators or executives allude to LGBTQ2S+ characters or relationships within their content, but fail at including actual representation so as not to lose non-LGBTQ2S+ viewers.
questioning: describes those who are in a process of discovery and exploration about their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or a combination thereof. Questioning people can be of any age, so for many reasons, this may happen later in life. Questioning is a profoundly important process and one that does not imply that someone is choosing to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer.
Qurʾān (also spelled Quran and Koran; Arabic for “recitation”): the sacred scripture of Islam. According to conventional Islamic belief, the Qurʾān was revealed by the angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad in the West Arabian towns Mecca and Medina beginning in 610 and ending with Muhammad’s death in 632 CE. The word qurʾān, which occurs already within the Islamic scripture itself, is derived from the verb qaraʾa — “to read,” “to recite.” The Qurʾān, written in Classical Arabic, is believed to be a literal and unchanged transcript of God’s message to humanity. The Quran is referenced as “the well-preserved tablet” (al-lawḥ al-mahfūẓ; Qurʾān 85:22).
race: a social and political construction—with no inherent genetic or biological basis—used by social institutions to categorize and divide groups of individuals based on physical appearance (particularly skin colour), ancestry, cultural history, and ethnic classification. The concept has been and still is used to justify the domination, exploitation, and violence against people who are racialized as People of Colour.
racial (ethnic) identity: an individual’s awareness and experience of being a member of a racial and ethnic group; the racial and the ethnic categories that an individual describes themselves based on such factors as biological heritage, physical appearance, cultural affiliation, early socialization, and personal experience.
racial anxiety: the fear of being judged, based on an individual’s race, when interacting with people of other races. White people fear assumptions of being racist, while People of Colour fear being the victim of discriminatory behaviour and violence.
racial disparity: an unequal outcome one racial group experiences as compared to the outcome for another racial group.
racial disproportionality: the under-representation or over-representation of a racial or ethnic group at a particular decision point, event, or circumstance, compared to the group’s percentage in the total population.
racial equity: refers to the systemic fair treatment of all people, resulting in fair opportunities and outcomes for everyone. It contrasts with formal equality where people get treated the same without regard for racial differences. Racial equity is a process (such as meaningfully engaging with Indigenous, Black and other racialized employees regarding policies, directives, practices and procedures that affect them) and an outcome (such as a fair representation of Indigenous, Black and other racialized employees at all levels of the organization).
racial fetishization: fetishizing on a basic level is the sexualization of something, which can then make it desirable. When we are talking about people, fetishizing can be the sexual desire for someone for a physical or cultural attribute they possess. That's not to say that being attracted to someone's skin colour, body type, hair type, or cultural heritage is wrong, but becoming hyper-focused on a superficial piece of someone purely for the sake of sexual gratification isn't appropriate. There are power dynamics often at play with the fetishization of someone for their race or skin colour that can make it so that a person feels more like a trophy for you to show to others than a person who you value and love.
racialization: uses social markers (e.g. skin colour, cultural habits, dress, language, religions, political beliefs and surnames) to label or perceive a person of a certain community as different from the norm, thus, causing them to receive unequal treatment in society. One can aptly describe it as a process of “othering”.
racialized (person): often used to stand in for “visible minority.” This more fluid term acknowledges that race is a social construction that can change over time and place.
racial justice: the proactive process of reinforcing and establishing a set of policies, practices, attitudes, and actions that produce equitable power, access, opportunities, treatment, affects, and outcomes for all individuals and groups affected by racism. The goal, however, is not only the eradication of racism but also the presence of deliberate social systems and structures that sustain racial equity through proactive and preventative measures.
racially coded language: a language that appears as race neutral but is actually a disguise for racial stereotypes without the stigma of explicit racism.
racial profiling: defined as any action that relies on stereotypes about race, colour, ethnicity, ancestry, religion or place of origin, or a combination of these, rather than on a reasonable suspicion to single out a person for greater scrutiny or different treatment.
racism: a system of advantage based on race. A system of oppression based on race. A way of organizing society based on dominance and subordination based on race. Penetrates every aspect of personal, cultural, and institutional life. Includes prejudice against People of Colour, as well as exclusion, discrimination against, suspicion of, and fear and hate of People of Colour. Racism = Prejudice + the POWER to implement that prejudice.
racist: one who is supporting a racist policy through their actions or interaction or expressing a racist idea.
radical: advocating or based on thorough political or social change; representing or supporting an extreme or progressive section of a political party.
Rainbow Freedom Flag: designed in 1978 by Gilbert Baker to designate the great diversity of the LGBTQ community. The International Flag Makers Association recognizes the flag as the official flag of the LGBTQ civil rights movement. The colours symbolize life (red), healing (orange), sunlight (yellow), nature (green), serenity (blue) and serenity (purple). Note: Some iterations of the Pride flag include a brown and black stripe. While we have made great strides in the Queer community, Pride is still not always an inclusive space for Indigenous Peoples, Black people and racialized people. The new stripes are a visible symbol of the importance of these voices and experiences. This serves as a reminder that we must root inclusion in an intersectional approach to include those who have historically been and continue to be marginalized.
Ramadan: a holy month of worship, the study of the Quran, prayer, and fasting. Ramadan occurs during the month in which Muslims believe the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. It is a joyous celebration for Muslims. Fasting is one of the Five Pillars of Islam.
religion: a system of beliefs, usually spiritual, and often in terms of a formal, organized denomination.
religious discrimination: institutional and individual practices that discriminate against a person because of their religion or perceived religion. A common form of such discrimination in Canada is employers not allowing people to observe their religious practices in the workplace. Supreme court cases have recently ruled that employers must accommodate employees who need to pray or take days for religious holidays that are not recognized in the list of Christian-based holidays such as Easter and Christmas. Two forms of religious discrimination we also hear about frequently are Islamophobia (hatred or fear of Muslims, although many racialized non-Muslims such as Sikhs have been the targets of Islamophobic acts) and antisemitism (discrimination against Jewish people).
representation: one way to determine whether a social group is marginalized in a political system, field of work or organization. If we say that an organization (e.g. a municipal workforce) is ‘representative’, we mean that the proportions of people from different social groups (e.g. Disabled People, women, People of Colour) in the organization are like the proportions of people in the average population. If a certain group is ‘under-represented’, their proportions in the organization are lower than in the average population. Often, under-representation is not a coincidence, but a result of systemic discrimination.
representation matters: this catchphrase has become relevant in various areas of the industry from film to finance, academic fields, positions of power, and more. It is a response that defines a rebellion against the default: white, male, and rich.
Republican Party: also referred to as the GOP ("Grand Old Party"), is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with its main historic rival, the Democratic Party.
Residential schools: government-sponsored religious schools that assimilated Indigenous children into Euro-Canadian culture. Although the first residential facilities were established in New France, the term usually refers to schools established after 1880. Christian churches and the Canadian government created residential schools. The schools disrupted lives and communities, causing long-term traumas among Indigenous Peoples.
reverse racism: a term coined by upset white people that is sometimes used to describe acts of discrimination towards non-racialized, or white, individuals or groups. Racism, however, is not just about individual actions, but a society-wide system that advantages white people and disadvantages racialized people. Therefore, racialized people and communities cannot in fact be “racist” towards white people. The only way racialized people could be ‘racist’ is if we changed the entire structure of our society to only advantage racialized people and put white people on the receiving end of racism.
reverse sexism: coined by men to deny sexism. Cannot acknowledge that the word sexism exists because we live in a patriarchal society where men are dominant and women are subordinate (and where men hold more power simply because they are men).
Saskatoon freezing deaths: a series of three confirmed deaths of Indigenous Peoples in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in the early 2000s. Members of the Saskatoon Police Service who would arrest Indigenous people, usually men, for alleged drunkenness and/or disorderly behaviour, without cause, and at times, causing their deaths. The Saskatoon Police officers would drive Indigenous Peoples to the outskirts of the city at night in the winter, take their clothing, and abandon them, leaving them stranded in sub-zero temperatures. The practice involves taking Indigenous people for "starlight tours" and dates back to 1976 (from what we know). As of 2021, despite convictions for related offences, no Saskatoon police officer has been convicted specifically for having caused freezing deaths.
service animal/assistance animal/guide dog/Seeing Eye Dog: service animals are trained animals (mostly dogs) which provide services to some Disabled People.
Sesame Street: an educational television program for preschool children, particularly aimed at disadvantaged children, that began in the late 1960s. “Sesame Street” teaches awareness of letters and numbers and combines live actors, animation, and puppets (Muppets) in a great number of small segments, many of them musical.
settler: used to refer to those who are not Indigenous to a place and who either chose or had ancestors who settled there. The term references the concept of settler colonialism. Because settler colonialism implies choice by the individual settler (acknowledging that choices are often limited by a variety of sociopolitical and economic factors), the term is problematic with those who are not Indigenous to a place, but whose ancestors were brought forcibly.
sex: a system of classification based on biological and physical differences, such as primary and secondary sexual characteristics. Differentiated from gender, which is based on the social construction and expectations of the categories “men” and “women.”
sexism: a system that produces social and physical barriers based on gender, specifically for girls and women. Sexism historically conflates one’s sex (our genitalia, anatomy, chromosomes, hormones, and reproductive organs) with our gender (our gender expression and gender identity) and depends on the gender binary of women and men. This binary also erases intersex and trans girls and women. Gender or sex prejudice + power.
sex reassignment surgery: a medical procedure altering one’s physical appearance to further reflect one’s gender identity.
sexual orientation: emotional, romantic, or sexual feelings toward other people or no people. While sexual activity involves the choices one makes regarding behaviour, one’s sexual activity does not define one’s sexual orientation. Sexual orientation is part of the human condition, and all people have one. Typically, it is an attraction that helps determine orientation.
silencing: the conscious or unconscious processes by which the voice or participation of particular social identities is excluded or inhibited.
Singh: a last name shared by all men who practise the Sikh religion, it means “lion.” The 10th Sikh teacher, Guru Gobind Singh, gave Sikhs the same last names as a sign of equality (traditional last names in 17th-century North India showed caste).
sizeism: a system of oppression that produces social and physical barriers based on the size of one’s body, specifically weight, height, or both. Different cultures have internalized attitudes towards certain sizes and depending on where one is in the world, we may consider someone especially tall, short, or fat.
slave: the now outdated term for human beings held in bondage and forced to perform labour or services against their will under threat of physical mistreatment or death. Use “enslaved person” instead.
slavery: refers to a condition in which individuals are owned by others, who control where they live and at what they work. Slavery had previously existed throughout history, in many times and most places. The ancient Greeks, the Romans, Incas and Aztecs all have histories of slavery.
slur: derogatory comment, reference, or label.
snowflake (slang): a derogatory term for a person, implying that they have an inflated sense of uniqueness, an unwarranted sense of entitlement, or are overly emotional, easily offended, and unable to deal with opposing opinions.
social construction theory: theory that societies and people who came before us have created and shaped many of the institutions, expectations, and identities that we consider natural. Things that are socially constructed still have very real influences and consequences, even if we do not base them on an inherent truth. We can reconstruct social constructs in order to better fit the society and culture they govern.
socialization: the process of consciously and unconsciously learning norms, beliefs, and practices from individuals, media and institutions about who does/does not have power and privilege as it relates to social identities and how the self is positioned in relationship to them.
social justice: a process, not an outcome which (1) seeks fair (re) distribution of resources, opportunities, and responsibilities; (2) challenges the roots of oppression and injustice; (3) empowers all people to exercise self-determination and realize their full potential; (4) and builds social solidarity and community capacity for collaborative action.
social media activism: protest or advocacy for a cause that uses social media channels. Because hashtags play a central role in mobilizing movements, it is often used interchangeably with the term “hashtag activism”. It includes promoting awareness and showing solidarity through the use of hashtags, posts, and campaigns. Concrete actions, donations, and measurable commitments support genuine social media activism to change. Without offline action, gestures like using a hashtag or posting a black square come across as performative, opportunistic, and lazy. Critics are often quick to call out these minimal efforts as “slacktivism.” Along the same lines, when a company takes part in social media activism that does not align with its past or present actions, it can prompt backlash and do harm.
social model (of disability): focuses on environment and assumes that impairment is not as significant as the disability that is constructed by social attitudes and cultural mores that underlie the structural environment. In the social-model way of thinking, the environment disables the individual and needs fixing.
Southeastern Asia: a subregion of Asia that comprises the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies near the intersection of geological plates and has heavy seismic and volcanic activity. Southeast Asia comprises two geographic regions: Maritime Southeast Asia, which includes Brunei, Christmas Island, East Malaysia, East Timor, Indonesia, Philippines and Singapore; and Mainland Southeast Asia, also known as Indochina, which includes Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and West Malaysia.
special/special needs: the term “special” was popularized during the early 20th century during a push for special needs education to serve people with all kinds of disabilities. The word “special” in relation to disabled people and is offensive now because it euphemistically stigmatizes that which is different. Avoid using these terms when describing disabled people, or the programs designed to serve them, except for government references or formal names of organizations and programs.
Status Indians (sometimes also referred to as Registered Indians): individuals who appear on the Indian Register — the official record of Registered Indians in Canada, maintained by the federal government. The register contains the names, birth dates, death dates, and marriage and divorce details, as well as records of persons transferring from one band to another, for all Registered Indians. People with status are issued identification cards (status cards) that contain information about their identity, band, and registration number. According to the Canadian Federal Government, “under the Indian Act, “Status Indians” may be eligible for a range of benefits, rights, programs and services offered by the federal and provincial or territorial governments.” For example, all “Status Indians” are exempt from paying income tax on any income they earn on a reserve, and the personal property of a “Status Indian” cannot be seized if it is situated on a reserve. However, the provisions governing these exemptions are complex and do not apply uniformly in every scenario. Having status does not guarantee certain rights, such as the ability to live on reserve. “Non-Status” people can also live on reserve sometimes, depending on community bylaws.
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics): is a broad term used to group together these academic disciplines. This term is typically used to address an education policy or a curriculum choice in schools. It has implications for workforce development, national security concerns, and immigration policy.
stereotype: the word comes from the ancient Greek for “fixed impression.” Blanket beliefs and expectations about members of certain groups that present an oversimplified opinion, prejudiced attitude, or uncritical judgment. They go beyond necessary and useful categorizations and generalizations in that they are typically negative, highly generalized, and based on little or misguided information.
stereotype threat: the threat of being stereotyped or the fear of doing something that would inadvertently confirm that stereotype. The resulting apprehension often causes the individual to behave in ways that reinforce that stereotype.
Stonewall: the Stonewall Inn tavern in New York City’s Greenwich Village was the site of several nights of raucous protests after a police raid on June 28, 1969. Although not the nation’s first gay civil rights demonstration, we recognize Stonewall as the birth of the modern Gay Civil Rights Movement.
structural racism: historical, social, political, institutional, and cultural factors that contribute to, legitimize, and maintain racial inequities. Structural racism is not something that a few people or institutions choose to practice, it is the confluence of racist concepts and theories that control our economic, political, and social systems.
systemic (institutional) racism: the practices that perpetuate racial disparities, uphold white supremacy, and serve to the detriment and harm of People of Colour and keep them in negative cycles. Systemic racism also refers to policies that generate different outcomes for persons of distinct races. These laws, policies, and practices are not necessarily explicit in mentioning any racial group, but work to create advantages for white persons and disadvantages for People of Colour.
systems of oppression: how history, culture, ideology, public policies, institutional practices, and personal behaviours and beliefs interact to maintain a hierarchy—based on race, class, gender, sexuality, and/or other group identities—that allows the privileges associated with the dominant group and the disadvantages associated with the targeted group to endure and adapt.
targets of oppression: members of social identity groups that are disenfranchised, exploited, and victimized in a variety of ways by agents of oppression and the agent’s systems or institutions. Targets of oppression are subject to containment, having their choices and movements restricted and limited, are seen and treated as expendable and replaceable, without an individual identity apart from their group, and are compartmentalized into narrowly defined roles. Targets of oppression have fewer “life chances” or benefits as a result of their membership in a particular social group, e.g. the higher likelihood that Black men will be arrested than white men.
The Black Panther Party (original name Black Panther Party for Self-Defense): African American revolutionary party, founded in 1966 in Oakland, California, by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale. The party’s original purpose was to patrol African American neighbourhoods to protect residents from acts of police brutality. The Panthers eventually developed into a Marxist revolutionary group that called for the arming of all African Americans, the exemption of African Americans from the draft and from all sanctions of so-called white America, the release of all African Americans from jail, and the payment of compensation to African Americans for centuries of exploitation by white Americans. At its peak in the late 1960s, Panther membership exceeded 2,000, and the organization operated chapters in several major American cities.
The Black Power Movement (of the 1960s and 1970s): a political and social movement whose advocates believed in racial pride, self-sufficiency, and equality for all people of Black and African descent. Credited with first articulating “Black Power '' in 1966, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee leader Stokely Carmichael, represented a generation of Black activists who took part in both Civil Rights and the Black Power movements. By the mid-1960s, many of them no longer saw nonviolent protests as a viable means of combating racism. New organizations, such as the Black Panther Party, the Black Women’s United Front, and the Nation of Islam, developed new cultural, political, and economic programs and grew memberships that reflected this shift. Desegregation was insufficient—only through the deconstruction of white power structures could a space be made for a Black political voice to give rise to collective Black power. Because of these beliefs, the movement is often represented as violent, anti-white, and anti-law enforcement.
The Civil Rights Movement: often used to describe the struggles of Black people living in the United States between 1945 and 1970 to end discrimination and racial segregation. Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to guarantee basic civil rights for all Americans, regardless of race, after nearly a decade of nonviolent protests and marches, ranging from the 1955-1956 Montgomery bus boycott to the student-led sit-ins of the 1960s to the March on Washington in 1963.
The Cleveland Indians: an American professional baseball team based in Cleveland. The Indians compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the American League Central division. The name "Indians" originated from a request by club owner Charles Somers to baseball writers to choose a new name to replace "Cleveland Naps" following the departure of Nap Lajoie after the 1914 season.
The Edmonton Football Team or EE Football Team (formerly Edmonton Eskimos): is a professional Canadian football team based in Treaty 6 (Edmonton, Alberta). The club competes in the Canadian Football League (CFL) as a member of the league's West division. On July 16, 2020, they reported the club would drop the 'Eskimos' name.
The medical model of disability: defines an illness or disability as the result of a physical condition, which is intrinsic to the individual (it is part of that individual’s own body) and which may reduce the individual’s quality of life and cause clear disadvantages to the individual. The medical model believes that curing or at least managing illness or disability revolves around identifying the illness or disability from an in-depth clinical perspective (in the sense of the scientific understanding undertaken by trained healthcare providers), understanding it, and learning to control and/or alter its course. By extension, the medical model also believes that a “compassionate” or just society invests resources in health care and related services attempting to cure disabilities medically, to expand functionality and/or improve functioning, and to allow disabled persons a more “normal” life. The medical profession’s responsibility and potential in this area is seen as central. Because of its focus upon individuals, the medical model led to stereotyping and defining people by a condition or their limitations.
Theodor Seuss Geisel (March 2, 1904–September 24, 1991): was an American children's author, political cartoonist, illustrator, poet, animator, and filmmaker. We know him for his work writing and illustrating over 60 books under the pen name Dr. Seuss. His work includes many of the most popular children's books of all time, selling over 600 million copies and being translated into over 20 languages by the time of his death.
the pink tax: the name given to the practice of charging those that identify as women more than those that identify as men for the same products and services. It can be as high as 50 to 100 percent more, as for dry cleaning, but the average pink tax premium is 43% in Turtle Island (Canada), for items that everyone uses like deodorant, shampoo, soap, and razors. Sometimes it shows up at higher prices. In others, it means some folks get much less product for the same price. Either way, it is blatant discrimination. Add it all up, and those that identify as women each pay over $1,300CAD more every year, on average, than men pay for the same products and services.
The social model of disability: the work of the World Health Organization (WHO) that redefined disability in 2001. WHO declared disability an umbrella term with several components: 1) impairments: a problem in body function or structure. 2) activity limitations: a difficulty encountered by a person in executing a task or action. 3) participation restrictions: a problem experienced by a person in involvement in life situations. This separates the idea of disability from the idea of impairment. It identifies systemic barriers, negative attitudes and exclusion by society (purposely or inadvertently) as contributory factors in disabling people. This model promotes the notion that while physical, sensory, intellectual, or psychological variations may cause individual functional limitation or impairments, these do not have to lead to disability unless society fails to include people regardless of their individual differences.
the work: when we talk about building a more anti-racist, anti-oppressive world, it’s often framed as doing “the work.” It’s called “the work” because it’s not something that happens overnight, and while it can be approached with joy and optimism, it is frequently difficult. Building a better world with one another is ongoing; it doesn’t happen once every four years at the polls, and it doesn’t just happen during demonstrations in the streets. We use the phrase “the work” to acknowledge the breadth of space where we as a society can shift our perceptions, interactions, policies, culture, laws, and more.
third-gender: used to describe a gender that is neither male nor female but lies outside this binary. With different names this category has been used for centuries to recognize three or more genders.
third world: originally used to distinguish nations that were aligned with neither the West nor with the East during the Cold War. Commonly used to describe underdeveloped countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America. We often cast these nations and the people there as being uncivilized or primitive. Avoid using the term because of its negative connotations. Although not perfect, developing country(ies) are a better alternative.
Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution: abolished enslavement and involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for a crime. The amendment passed by Congress on January 31, 1865, and ratified by the required 27 of the then 36 states on December 6, 1865, and proclaimed on December 18.
tiki torch: a pole-mounted torch, typically made of bamboo, that originated in the tiki culture of the mid-20th-century United States, which has increased in popularity and spread to other places as a popular party decoration with a tropical island aesthetic. Tiki torches received media attention after The Unite the Right rally in 2017, when groups associated with the alt-right and white nationalist movements in the United States prominently carried lit bamboo torches as they showed in Charlottesville, Virginia. Tiki Brand owner Lamplight Farms condemned the views of the demonstrators and the use of their products.
tipi (teepee): a type of shelter, shaped like a cone and traditionally made from wooden poles and coverings sewn from the hides of bison. Tipis were important to the Indigenous Peoples of the Plains because they often travelled — to hunt, join social gatherings (such as Sun Dances) or find winter shelter — and therefore needed homes that could be taken down easily and just as easily resurrected. The Plains People developed a unique portable house-form — the tipi — which was perfectly adapted to their mobile way of life.
tokenism: normally a well-intentioned symbolic effort to include an under-represented group, but rather than supporting individuals, you create racialized props. Common examples in everyday life include phrases such as “I’m not racist, my best friend is Black”, I.e. assuming you're immune to racism because you have friends of colour; recruiting a Person of Colour in the workplace into a leadership position but keeping the authority; or asking a Person of Colour to speak on a decision on a contentious race issue, to excuse an organization’s racist and discriminatory behaviour.
tolerance: acceptance and open-mindedness to different practices, attitudes, and cultures; does not mean agreement with the differences.
tone-policing: when someone tries to diminish the validity and importance of a statement by attacking the tone in which it is said and presented, instead of the message itself. This diversionary tactic is used everywhere—households, educational institutions, workplaces and most significantly in cultures of protests by people high on the “privilege ladder”. It is yet another tool used to protect privilege instead of understanding the structures of oppression that exist in our society.
totem pole (also known as a monumental pole): a tall structure created by Northwest Coast Indigenous peoples that showcases a nation’s, family’s or individual’s history and displays their rights to certain territories, songs, dances and other aspects of their culture. Totem poles can also be used as memorials and to tell stories. Carved of large, straight red cedar and painted vibrant colours, the totem pole represents both coastal Indigenous culture and Northwest Coast Indigenous Art. Colonization threatened the existence of totem poles. Beginning in the 19th century, the Canadian Federal Government sought to assimilate First Nations by banning various cultural practices in the Indian Act, including the potlatch, which is the ceremony during which totem poles are often erected. The totem pole can be seen as a symbol of ongoing survival and resistance to cultural and territorial encroachment. Many Northwest Coast communities have struggled to repatriate totem poles taken from them by colonial forces for sale or display elsewhere.
Tourette Syndrome: a neurological disorder characterized by tics, or sudden, purposeless and rapid movements or vocalizations, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Such tics are recurrent, involuntary and non-rhythmic, with the same tics occurring each time. They originally named the disorder for French neurologist Dr. Georges Gilles de la Tourette, who first described the condition in 1885. While those with Tourette syndrome often can suppress tics by focusing on them, the disorder also can be treated with medication, relaxation techniques and therapy. Involuntary cursing is commonly thought to be a key trait of the disorder, but only approximately 10% of those with Tourette syndrome exhibit this symptom.
tracheostomy tube: a small metal or plastic tube that keeps the stoma (opening) and the trachea in a tracheostomy open. Also known as a trach (pronounced 'trake') tube.
tranny: often a pejorative term for a Trans person, it is now being reclaimed by some Trans people. Offensive when used as an epithet and should be avoided except in quotes or as someone’s self-identified term.
trans: from the Latin prefix for “on a different side as,” is an umbrella term used to refer to over one identity within gender identity and gender expression, beyond what is often assigned at birth: transgender, transsexual, genderqueer, genderfluid, agender, third gender, two-spirit, bigender, pangender, trans woman, trans man, and more. For Western Eurocentric people, we often describe these individuals as trans, transgender, nonbinary and/or gender non-conforming. It is important to understand that ethnic cultures around the world historically have their own languages in describing their diverse understandings of gender identity and gender roles.
Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist (TERF): the term originated online in 2008 from trans inclusive cisgender radical feminist blogger; however, exclusion of trans people—especially trans women—from feminist organizing spaces has been gaining traction since the 1970s. TERF’s primarily believe that trans women are men trying to invade women’s spaces and work aggressively to deny the existence and identity of trans people.
transgender: an umbrella term in addition to including people whose gender identity is the opposite of their assigned sex (trans men and trans women), it may include people who are not only masculine or feminine (people who are genderqueer, e.g. bigender, pangender, genderfluid, or agender). Other definitions of transgender also include people who belong to a third gender, or conceptualize transgender people as a third gender. Being transgender is independent of sexual orientation.
transition: a term used to refer to the process—social, legal, and/or medical—one goes through to affirm one’s gender identity. This may, but does not always, include taking hormones; having surgeries; and changing names, pronouns, identification documents, and more. Many individuals choose not to or cannot transition for a wide range of reasons both within and beyond their control. The validity of an individual’s gender identity does not depend on any social, legal, and/or medical transition; the self-identification itself is what validates the gender identity.
trans misogyny: a tool used by cissexism and cisheteropatriarchy to enforce strict gender roles and expectations on girls and women, both cis and trans. It directs concentrated violence and involves active hostility and/or opposition towards those who do not identify, present, or express themselves as masculine and/or men. This results in a disproportionate rate of verbal/emotional/sexual/physical harassment, homelessness, poverty, suicide and death by murder.
transphobia: the fear and hatred of, or discomfort with, transgender people. Transphobia occurs in a broader cisgenderism social context that systematically disadvantages trans people and promotes and rewards anti-trans sentiment.
transsexual: a term which refers to people who consider or use medical interventions such as hormone therapy or gender-affirming surgeries, also called sex reassignment surgery or pursue medical interventions as part of expressing their gender. A less frequently used—and sometimes misunderstood—term (considered by some to be outdated or possibly offensive, and others to uniquely apply to them). Some transsexual people do not identify as transgender and vice versa. Like the term queer, because of its varying meanings, use this term only when self-identifying or quoting someone who self-identifies as transsexual.
Treaty Indians: “Status Indians' ' who belong to a First Nation or band that signed any treaty with the Crown since 1701, surrendering land for specified benefits. Some Treaty Indians live on a reserve not covered by a treaty, meaning that their community never signed a treaty with the government to surrender their lands. These individuals live on what is typically known as unceded territories. The term also applies to First Nations, who have self-government agreements. Treaties may provide the descendants of signatories with annuities (annual payments) and rights (such as the right to hunt and fish) in addition to those given to all Status Indians.
turban: the turban is a common and fashionable item of clothing for many cultures, for Sikhs, it represents our faith. When the Sikh faith was developing from the 15th through 18th centuries in South Asia, the turban was worn only by the higher classes and elites of society. However, a core teaching of the Sikh faith was that all people are equal — there are no high or low among us. As such, it was mandated that all Sikhs initiated into the faith cover their heads with a turban, thereby signifying the equal status among the faith’s followers. Because it’s considered respectful for Sikhs to keep our heads covered when in public and in our religious spaces, the turban provides that function as well. It is a core piece of my identity.
Turtle Island: the name many Algonquian- and Iroquoian-speaking peoples mainly in the northeastern part of North America used to refer to the continent. In various Indigenous origin stories, the turtle supports the world, and is an icon of life itself. Turtle Island therefore speaks to various spiritual beliefs about creation and for some, the turtle is a marker of identity, culture, autonomy and a deeply held respect for the environment.
twerking: is a type of dance that came out of the bounce music scene of New Orleans in the late 1980s. Individually performed chiefly but not only by women, dancers move by throwing or thrusting their hips back or shaking their buttocks, often in a low squatting stance. Twerking is part of a larger set of characteristic moves unique to the New Orleans style of hip-hop known as "bounce". Moves include "mixing", "exercising”, the "bend over", the "shoulder hustle", "clapping", "booty clapping", "booty poppin", and "the wildwood"—all recognized as "booty-shaking" or "bounce". Twerking is but one choreographic gesture with bounce.
two-spirit (2-Spirit): a translation of the Anishinaabemowin term niizh manidoowag, refers to an umbrella term used by some Indigenous Peoples in Turtle Island to describe people in their communities who fulfill a traditional third-gender role in their cultures. It can refer to a person who identifies as having both a masculine and a feminine spirit and is used by some Indigenous Peoples to describe their sexual, gender and/or spiritual identity. Two-spirit individuals are revered, sacred, divine and held in high regard in Indigenous culture. Different Indigenous cultures have their own variations of the term two-spirit, but all terms have historically been used to describe similar traits embodied by two-spirit people including gender identity, dress, traditional roles, gender variance, specialized work roles, same-sex attraction and spiritual identity.
unconscious bias: unconscious, subtle, involuntary assumptions or judgments we make every day based on our prior experiences and culture.
under-represented: individuals or groups with inadequate representation in various aspects of life, often determined when compared to their proportional composition in Canadian society, but in the university setting, other considerations may also override strictly proportional representation.
upstander: a person who speaks or acts to support an individual or cause, particularly someone who intervenes on behalf of a person being attacked or bullied.
violence: a primary tool of oppression used to gain and/or maintain power at the expense of the physical, psychological, social, cultural, political, and/ or economic safety of others.
We’re Here Because We’re Queer: a favourite chant of pride, popularized by Queer Nation, an LGBTQ activist organization founded in March 1990 in New York City, by HIV/AIDS activists.
white: refers to people belonging to the mainstream (not necessarily the majority) racial group who enjoy skin colour privilege in North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and anywhere European colonialism has created racism. White people may also face discrimination because of their class, sexual orientation, gender, religious ability and age (see intersectionality). But this does not erase white skin privilege. The definition of ‘white’ has changed over time–at some points in North American history, Irish, Greek, and Italian people were not considered white. Some people use the term ‘Caucasian’ instead of white, but ‘Caucasian’ actually refers to an ethnic group of people who originate from the Caucasus region just northeast of Turkey, on the border between Asia and Europe. Caucasian is often used because to some, it sounds less ‘offensive’ than white. However, if we’re trying to talk about race and racism, the term ‘white’ is actually more accurate.
white centring: the centring of white people, white values, white norms and white feelings over everything and everyone else. White centring can manifest as anything ranging from tone policing and white fragility to white exceptionalism and outright violence.
white fragility: a range of defensive emotions and behaviours that white people exhibit when confronted with uncomfortable truths about race. This may include outward displays of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviours such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviours function to reinstate white racial equilibrium.
white guilt: the individual or collective guilt felt by some white people for the historical and current oppressions experienced by People of Colour; We have described though white guilt as being a detrimental consequence of racism, experiences associated with white guilt are not comparable to the experiences of systemic oppression faced by marginalized communities.
whiteness: refers to the specific dimensions of racism that elevate white people over People of Colour. This definition counters the dominant representation of racism in mainstream education as isolated in discrete behaviours that some individuals may or may not show and goes beyond naming specific privileges. We theorize whites as actively shaped, affected, defined, and elevated through their racialization and the individual and collective consciousness formed within it ... Whiteness is thus conceptualized as a constellation of processes and practices rather than as a discrete entity (i.e. skin colour alone). Whiteness is dynamic, relational, and operating at all times and on myriad levels. These processes and practices include basic rights, values, beliefs, perspectives, and experiences purported to be shared by all but which are actually only consistently afforded to white people.
white presenting: used to refer to people who have a cultural and/or racial identity that is not white, but who experience what has been called “white skin privilege” because of how they look.
white privilege: refers to the unquestioned and unearned set of advantages, entitlements, benefits and choices given to people solely because they are white. This includes advantages they might not even know about. It can be a product of systemic racism. Advantages can be economic, social or educational. One kind of privilege is freedom from barriers, suspicions, or expectations that People of Colour experience daily. Another can be freedom from judgment or denial surrounding success or aspirations. For example, if two people gain the same job or car, the white person’s success might be taken for granted while we ask the Black person how they managed it.
white supremacy: the idea (ideology) that white people and the ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions of white people are superior to People of Colour and their ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions. While most people associate white supremacy with extremist groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the neo-Nazis, white supremacy is ever present in our institutional and cultural assumptions that assign value, morality, goodness, and humanity to the white group while casting people and communities of colour as worthless (worth less), immoral, bad, and inhuman and “undeserving.” Drawing from critical race theory, the term white supremacy also refers to a political or socio-economic system where white people enjoy structural advantage and rights that other racial and ethnic groups do not both at a collective and an individual level.
whitewashing: when people think of “whitewashing” today, they generally think in terms of Hollywood. It drastically slashes opportunities for actors of Colour, who are already shut out of white roles and now must compete with white actors for Person of Colour parts. In and out of Hollywood, whitewashing also negatively affects children in minority groups, who grow up seeing very few authentic representations of themselves in entertainment, art, and history. Although White actors had been playing characters of other ethnicities for centuries, often employing blackface, redface, and yellowface, the term “whitewashing” didn’t become a popular way to describe this practice until the late 1990s. According to Merriam-Webster, whitewashing as a term revolving around white supremacy debuted in a 1997 issue of Afro-American Red Star, in which Wiley A. Hall wrote: “Finally, the moviemakers must not be afraid to lie—especially if it makes us look good. Hollywood has been whitewashing (pun intended) history since movies were invented.” Whitewashing permeates every layer of society, but it’s been most prominent and pervasive in pop culture. For decades, it was an unavoidable fact of entertainment, from white artists like Elvis Presley and Pat Boone recording songs written and/or originally performed by Black songwriters and singers in order to make the music more palatable to white audiences, to white actors scoring Oscars and Oscar nominations for playing characters of Colour. Whitewashed is also used to describe someone who is viewed as leaving behind or neglecting their culture and assimilating to a white, Western culture.
woke: aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice).
Women of Colour (WOC): a multi-racial group of non-white women with differing ethnic backgrounds. This is separate to “POC” as it highlights the intersectional nature of race and gender identities.
womxn: an intersectional term intended to signal the inclusion of those who have traditionally been excluded from white feminist discourse: Black women, Women of Colour, and trans women. More recently, the term has also been used to include nonbinary people. When the term womxn is ascribed to trans women or nonbinary people without their consent that it becomes problematic.
xenophobia: the unreasonable fear or dislike of things, cultures, forms of expression, or people that differ from oneself and one’s own experiences of the everyday; fear of that which seems foreign or strange.
yellow fever (slang): a phenomenon in which the Western world has sexualized racism as some people fetishize East and Southeast Asia people to an uncontrollable degree — akin to contracting an illness, or a “fever” of sorts.
Yoga: a physical, mental, and spiritual practice that originated in ancient India. First codified by the sage Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras around 400 C.E, the practice was in fact handed down from teacher to student long before this text arose. Traditionally, this was a one-to-one transmission, but since yoga became popular in the West in the 20th century, group classes have become the norm. The word is derived from the Sanskrit root yuj, meaning “to yoke,” or “to unite”. The practice aims to create a union between body, mind and spirit, as well as between the individual self and universal consciousness.