Diversity, equity & Inclusion


Last updated: August 2021

Prejudiced thoughts and discriminatory actions based on differences in physical, mental and/or emotional ability that contribute to a system of oppression; usually of able‐bodied/minded persons against people with illness, disabilities or less developed skills.

A person who supports and celebrates equity seeking groups, interrupts and challenges oppressive remarks and actions of others, and willingly explores biases within themselves. Being an ally requires action: telling colleagues that their jokes are inappropriate; advocating for the health, wellness and acceptance of people from underrepresented or marginalized groups. An ally takes action to support people outside of their own group.

BIPOC stands for Black, Indigenous, People of Color. People are using the term to acknowledge that not all people of color face equal levels of injustice. BIPOC is significant in recognizing that Black and Indigenous people are severely impacted by systemic racial injustices and oppression.
Identifying with the same gender that one was assigned at birth. A gender identity that society considers to “match” the biological sex assigned at birth. The prefix cis- means “on this side of,” in reference to the gender binary model. A term used to identify people who are not trans, and the experiences of privilege granted on the basis of being cisgender.

Colonialism is an intentional process by which a political power from one territory exerts control over a different territory. It involves unequal power relations, and includes policies and/or practices of acquiring full or partial political control over other people or territory, occupying the territory with settlers, and exploiting it economically.

Colonization: an intentional process and practice of domination, control, and forced subjugation of one people over another. It involves unequal power relations, and includes policies and/or practices of acquiring full or partial political control over other people or territory, occupying the territory with settlers, and exploiting it economically.

In the context of Turtle Island (specifically Canada), European settlers began the process of the colonization of Indigenous peoples as early as the 1600s and continuing to this day, including through residential schools, violent assimilation tactics such as the 60’s Scoop, policies that prohibited cultural roles and practices practices (including the attempted erasure of Two-Spirit folk), and limiting or criminalizing access to land and resources. The effects and mechanisms of colonialism continue to impact power structures today.

Disabilities are having a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. 
A social construct that divides people into smaller social groups based on characteristics such as shared sense of group membership, cultural heritage, values, behavioral patterns, language, political and economic interests, history and ancestral geographical base.
Treating everyone the same way, often while assuming that everyone also starts out on equal footing or with the same opportunities.

Working toward fair outcomes for people or groups by treating them in ways that address their unique advantages or barriers.

Equity refers to achieving parity in policy, process and outcomes for historically and/or currently underrepresented and/or marginalized people and groups while accounting for diversity. It considers power, access, opportunities, treatment, impacts and outcomes, in three main areas:

  1. Representational equity: the proportional participation at all levels of an institution;
  2. Resource equity: the distribution of resources in order to close equity gaps; and
  3. Equity-mindedness: the demonstration of an awareness of, and willingness to, address equity issues.
Equity-seeking groups are communities that experience significant collective barriers in participating in society. This could include attitudinal, historic, social and environmental barriers based on age, ethnicity, disability, economic status, gender, nationality, race, sexual orientation and transgender status, etc. Equity-seeking groups are those that identify barriers to equal access, opportunities and resources due to disadvantage and discrimination and actively seek social justice and reparation. Historically, persistently, or systematically marginalized groups.
One’s internal and psychological sense of oneself as man, woman, both, in between, neither, or another understanding of gender. People who question their gender identity may feel unsure of their gender or believe they are not of the same gender they were assigned at birth.
Refers to social roles, structures, language etc. that reinforce the idea that heterosexuality is the presumed norm and is superior to other sexual orientations.
Inclusion is an active, intentional, and continuous process to address inequities in power and privilege, and build a respectful and diverse community that ensures welcoming spaces and opportunities to flourish for all. Workplace Inclusion is an atmosphere where all employees belong, contribute, and can thrive. Requires deliberate and intentional action.
The term ‘Indigenous’ encompasses First Nations, Métis and Inuit people, either collectively or separately, and is a preferred term in international usage, e.g., the ‘U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.’ In its derivation from international movements, it is associated more with activism than government policy and so has emerged, for many, as the preferred term (vs. Aboriginal)
The intertwining of social identities such as gender, race, ethnicity, social class, religion, sexual orientation, and/or gender identity, which can result in unique experiences, opportunities, and barriers. A theory coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw in the 1980s to draw attention to how dierent systems of oppressive structures and types of discrimination interact and manifest in the lives of minorities; for example, a queer black woman may experience oppression on the basis of her sexuality, gender, and race – and a unique experience of oppression based on how those identities intersect in her life.
Territory acknowledgement is a way that people insert an awareness of Indigenous presence and land rights in everyday life. This is often done at the beginning of ceremonies, lectures, or any public event. It can be a subtle way to recognize the history of colonialism and a need for change in settler colonial societies.

Acronym used to refer to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer and Two-Spirit (2S) people. Additional letters, or a + sign, are sometimes added to this acronym (i.e. LGBTQ+, LGBTQI2S, etc.). Making fun of the length of this acronym can have a trivializing or erasing effect on the group that longer acronyms seek to actively includee

A social process by which individuals or groups are (intentionally or unintentionally) distanced from access to power and resources and constructed as insignificant, peripheral, or less valuable/privileged to a community or “mainstream” society. This term describes a social process, so as not to imply a lack of agency. Marginalized groups or people are those excluded from mainstream social, economic, cultural, or political life. Examples of marginalized groups include, but are by no means limited to, groups excluded due to race, religion, political or cultural group, age, gender, or financial status. To what extent such populations are marginalized, however, is context specific and reliant on the cultural organization of the social site in question.
Everyday insults, indignities and demeaning messages sent to historically marginalized groups by well-intentioned members of the majority group who are unaware of the hidden messages being sent.
The concept that there is great diversity in how people’s brains are wired and work, and that neurological differences should be valued in the same way we value any other human variation.
A continuum or spectrum of gender identities and expressions, often based on the rejection of the gender binary’s assumption that gender is strictly an either/or option of male/men or female/women, based on sex assigned at birth. Non-binary can be both a specific term of identification, and/or an umbrella term.
This is when an individual from a majority or privileged group (white/straight/cis/abled) professes their support of and/or solidarity with a marginalized group (identifies themselves as an ally) in a way that either isn’t helpful to that group, draws attention away from that group, or actively harms that group.
Refers to the social, economic and political advantages or rights held by people from dominant groups on the basis of gender, race, sexual orientation, social class, etc. Unearned social power (set of advantages, entitlements, and benefits) accorded by the formal and informal institutions of society to the members of a dominant group (e.g., white/Caucasian people with respect to people of color, men with respect to women, heterosexuals with respect to homosexuals, adults with respect to children, and rich people with respect to poor people). Privilege tends to be invisible to those who possess it, because its absence (lack of privilege) is what calls attention to it. In other words, men are less likely to notice/acknowledge a difference in advantage because they do not live the life of a woman; white people are less likely to notice/acknowledge racism because they do not live the life of a person of color; straight people are less likely to notice/acknowledge heterosexism because they do not live the life of a gay/lesbian/bisexual person.
An acronym for Queer, Trans, and Intersex People of Colour. Queer people of colour often experience intersecting oppressions on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation and other factors, including within queer and trans communities. Some literature may also use QTIBIPOC (Queer, Trans, and Intersex, Black and Indigenous People of Colour) to call attention to the specific mechanisms and impacts of oppression experienced by Black and/or Indigenous communities.
A social construct that artificially divides people into distinct groups based on characteristics such as physical appearance (particularly skin color), cultural affiliation, cultural history, ethnic classification, and the social, economic and political needs of a society at a given period of time. There are no distinctive genetic characteristics that truly distinguish between groups of people. Created by Europeans (Whites), race presumes human worth and social status for the purpose of establishing and maintaining privilege and power. Race is independent of ethnicity.
The term “racism” specifically refers to individual, cultural, institutional, and systemic ways by which differential consequences are created for different racial groups. Racism is often grounded in a presumed superiority of the white race over groups historically or currently defined as non-white. Racism can also be defined as “prejudice plus power.” The combination of prejudice and power enables the mechanisms by which racism leads to different consequences for different groups.
Refers to a person’s experiences of sexual and romantic attraction to other people, or to no one. Many people become aware of these feelings during adolescence or even earlier, while some do not realize or acknowledge their attractions (especially same-gender attractions) until much later in life. Many people experience their orientation(s) fluidly, and feel attraction or degrees of attraction to different genders at different points in their lives. Orientations are defined by feelings of attraction rather than behaviour.

An acronym that stands for Sexual Orientations and Gender Identities; often used in institutional settings (i.e. health care or education), SOGI, or SOGI Minorities, is used in place of LGBTQ2S+ acronyms. SOGI may be preferred as it decreases the risk of erasure, since the LGBTQ2S+ acronym omits identities or terms of self-identification. SOGI as an acronym fails to capture the spectrum of romantic orientations, and intersex folk. Alternatives: SGM (Sexuality and Gender Minorities).

Individuals or groups with insufficient or inadequate representation in various aspects of life, often determined when compared to their proportional composition in Canadian society, but other considerations may also override strictly proportional representation.
An implicit association, whether about people, places, or situations, which are often based on mistaken, inaccurate, or incomplete information and include the personal histories we bring to the situation. Unconscious (or implicit, hidden) biases are mental processes that operate outside of our consciousness, intentional awareness, or control. Unconscious biases include: Affinity bias: The tendency to show favour and/or feel more kinship towards people who are more like us. It may be based on some aspect of identity that we share with that person, or it could be similar interests and backgrounds. Attribution bias: How people explain the behaviour or outcomes for themselves or others. For example, attributing a person’s success to their natural abilities, versus seeing that success as the result of luck or favouritism. Confirmation bias: The tendency to more easily accept, search for, interpret, or favour information that aligns or agrees with one’s existing beliefs and opinions. Performance bias: An assessment of people’s competence based on some aspect of their appearance or identity.
Universal Design is the design and composition of an environment so that it can be accessed, understood, and used to the greatest extent possible by all people, regardless of their age, size, ability, or disability. An environment (or any building, product, or service in that environment) should be designed to meet the needs of all people who wish to use it. Universal design constitutes the equitable access to spaces, objects, environments, and services.


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