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The practice of identifying, challenging, preventing, eliminating and changing the values, structures, policies, programs, practices and behaviours that perpetuate racism.


The variety of characteristics that distinguish people as individuals and that identify them as belonging to a group or groups. Diversity is a concept that includes notions of age, class, culture, disability, ethnicity, family, sex, language, place of origin, race, religion, and sexual orientation, as well as other characteristics that vary among people and groups within society.


An intense dislike of, and contempt for, another person or a group of people.


"Multiculturalism" refers to a society that recognizes, values and promotes the contributions of the diverse cultural heritages and ancestries of all its people. A multicultural society is one that continually evolves and is strengthened by the contributions of its diverse peoples.


The experience of freedoms, rights, benefits, advantages, access and/or opportunities afforded to members of the dominant group in a society or in a given context, usually unrecognized and taken for granted by members of the majority group, while the same freedoms, rights, benefits, advantages access and/or opportunities are denied to members of the minority or disadvantaged groups.

Racial discrimination

As one of the many signatories to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racism in 1969, Canada agreed to the following definition of racial discrimination found in Article 1:

"Racial discrimination" shall mean any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, social, cultural or any other field of public life.

A set of mistaken assumptions, opinions and actions resulting from the belief that one group of people categorized by colour or ancestry is inherently superior to another. Racism may be present in organizational and institutional policies, programs and practices, as well as in the attitudes and behaviour of individuals.

Systemic discrimination

Systemic discrimination takes place via policies and practices which may appear neutral on the surface but in reality, exclude and discriminate against various minority groups — be it intentionally or unintentionally. For example, systemic discrimination can occur through employment systems such as job requirements, hiring practices or promotion procedures, or as a result of some government laws and regulations.


The practice or act of making distinctions between people on the basis of prejudicial attitudes and beliefs, which leads to the inequitable treatment of individuals or groups.


Ethnicity is a social and political construct used by individuals and communities to define themselves and others. Specifically, "ethnicity" refers to a person's cultural background, including his or her language, origin, faith and heritage. Ethnicity comprises the ideas, beliefs, values and behaviour that are transmitted from one generation to the next. It tends to be perceived in terms of common culture, history, language or nationhood. Ethnic identity and ethnicity are interchangeable terms.

Hate/Bias Crime

A hate/bias crime is a criminal offence committed against a person or property which is motivated by the suspect's hate, prejudice or bias against an identifiable group based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or any other similar factor (as defined in section 718.2 of the Criminal Code of Canada). Verbal intimidation, assault and vandalism are the most commonly reported types of hate crimes.


A preconceived idea or judgment toward a group based on perceived ethnic or ancestral characteristics that result in a belief that members of that group are inferior.


Historically, "race" has represented the notion that there are biologically discrete "races" of human beings that can be ordered in terms of superiority of intelligence, sexuality and morality. However modern science has determined that no such biological distinctions exist among humans and that the term serves no useful scientific purpose. Today, "race" is often used to refer to a group of people of common ancestry, distinguished by physical characteristics such as colour of skin, shape of eyes, hair texture and facial features and to designate social categories based on such characteristics. Race is often confused with ethnicity.


The process through which groups come to be designated as different, and on that basis, subjected to differential and unequal treatment. In the present context, racialized groups include those who may experience differential treatment the basis of race, ethnicity, language, economics, religion, culture, politics, etc.


A fixed mental picture or image of a group of people having the same characteristic(s) as all members of the group, regardless of their individual differences. It is an over-generalization, where the information or experience on which the image is based may be true for some of the individual group members, but not for all members. Stereotyping may be based upon misconceptions, incomplete information and/or false generalizations about race, age, ethnic, linguistic, geographical or natural groups, religions, social, marital or family status, physical, developmental or mental attributes, gender or sexual orientation.

Visible minority

The phrase "visible minority" refers to groups who share physically visible characteristics such as dark skin. This is a term which specifically refers to a certain time and place, when it was true in Canada that people of colour were a minority relative to the majority of the population. The term visible minority, although remaining in some legislation, is quickly losing its relevance, as it is no longer applicable in our society due to changing immigration patterns. Currently, the phrase should be used with caution because it often excludes groups of people who commonly experience discrimination. It does not seem to include, for example, many Latin Americans, southern Europeans, or religious groups, such as Jews and Muslims.

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