EDIB Glossary of Terms

In pursuit of equity and inclusion work, recognizing the influential role of language is crucial. Presented below is a compilation of terms intended to contribute to our collective development as advocates and champions of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging (EDIB). It's imperative to acknowledge that this glossary is dynamic; the terms within it continuously evolve as our analyses deepen and our understanding of various forms of oppression and resistance expands. This compilation has been curated from diverse sources, including academic scholarship and real-life experiences, recognizing both as valuable wellsprings of knowledge for defining and understanding these terms.

While this list serves as a helpful starting point to render today's language more accessible, it is essential to grasp the dynamic nature and potency of language, which accommodates the diverse meanings these terms may convey. Consider this guide as an initial foray, meant to be enriched over time with accumulating knowledge. It is not an exhaustive inventory of terms and is designed to be a living document. These terms are widely accepted, yet they are not intended to standardize individuals and their communities. Encouragement is extended to craft your own terms, contribute to the list, challenge existing definitions, and redefine concepts. Language is a shared resource; hence, feel free to adopt, adapt, and integrate this working document into your own process of learning and unlearning. Your input and suggestions for edits and additions are warmly welcomed and can be submitted by contacting us.

Trigger Warning: The terms included in this list span a broad spectrum, addressing various forms of discrimination and violence. The content may touch upon language that connects with the reader's personal experiences.

 General Terms
Assimilation can be understood as a survival tactic wherein individuals or marginalized groups adopt the cultural, social, and behavioral norms of a dominant or majority culture to navigate and thrive within that society. In many cases, assimilation is driven by external pressures, such as discrimination, exclusion, or limited opportunities, which compel individuals or groups to conform to the expectations of the dominant culture as a means of survival. This process often reinforces cultural erasure, as the distinct traditions, languages, and identities of the assimilating group may be gradually diluted or suppressed in favor of those of the dominant culture.

A barrier refers to a covert or overt obstacle or impediment that hinders the achievement of a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment within an institution or society. Barriers can manifest in various forms and at different levels, preventing individuals from marginalized groups from fully participating, progressing, or feeling a sense of belonging.

These barriers may include, but are not limited to, systemic or institutional practices that perpetuate inequality, biased policies and procedures, discriminatory behaviors, lack of representation, limited access to opportunities, and cultural norms that exclude certain groups.

Belonging is the feeling of security and support when there is a sense of acceptance, inclusion, and identity for a member of a certain group. Belonging involves creating an environment where individuals can bring their authentic selves to the College without fear of retribution, punishment, or judgment. Embedding a culture that values and embraces authenticity enables each person to contribute fully, fostering a more vibrant and inclusive community where diverse perspectives are not only welcomed but celebrated. Belonging is the outcome of holding space where everyone truly feels empowered to speak up, make change, and shift the culture.
In our everyday interactions, biases naturally emerge and manifest. They are the way we perceive and act towards others, both individually and interpersonally, and are significantly shaped by the circumstances we find ourselves in, our personal experiences, and the prevailing cultural and social standards. Biases are also often formed without reasonable justification. Becoming aware of our biases challenges us to confront social stereotypes by educating ourselves and reflecting on how we perceive our relationships with others. 
A collective refers to a gathering of individuals united by shared experiences or common goals. Through this unity, a collective has the ability to construct a community within its ranks and collaboratively drive transformative change. By pooling resources and efforts, a collective enhances its organizational capacity and maximizes its potential for impact. Through collaboration, it emphasizes the strength derived from diverse perspectives within the College.
 Cultural Humility
Practicing cultural humility involves recognizing and challenging one's own cultural biases and assumptions, approaching interactions with curiosity and a genuine desire to understand, and being responsive to the diverse needs and perspectives of others. It encourages individuals to acknowledge the limits of their cultural knowledge, valuing the experiences of others without imposing preconceived notions.
Discrimination: Discrimination refers to the unjust or prejudicial treatment of individuals or groups based on certain characteristics such as their, “race”, ethnicity, gender diversity, sexual orientation, age, ability, faith and spiritual belief systems, and other factors. It involves actions or behaviors that result in differential and unfavorable treatment, denying equal opportunities, rights, or privileges to those who are targeted. Discrimination is normally the outcome of prejudiced thinking or unchecked biases.
Diversity, at its core, signifies the coexistence of a multitude of human perspectives and experiences within a given context. These include but are not limited to, “race”, ethnicity, gender diversity, sexual orientation, age, ability, faith and spiritual belief systems, etc. The true value of diversity lies in the profound impact it has on shaping unique viewpoints and approaches, which contributes to a tapestry of insights that can fuel creativity, problem-solving, and innovation.
 Equality vs. Equity
Equality is the ideology that everyone has access to the same opportunities. Equity recognizes that due to systemic barriers, not everyone has the same advantages and access to opportunities. The idea of equity is that we cannot all be equal until we recognize the differences that privilege some and disadvantage others.

In a tangible sense, equality might mean providing everyone with the same-sized shoe, while equity would entail offering each person a shoe tailored to fit their specific size. This analogy underscores the importance of tailoring support and resources to individual needs to create a genuinely fair and inclusive society.

Inclusion is a dynamic and purposeful undertaking, representing an ongoing commitment to rectify disparities in power and privilege. It strives to build a community where there are spaces for the richness of diverse perspectives to be celebrated, contributing to the flourishing of everyone within the collective whole.
Intercultural Competence
Intercultural competence refers to the ability to effectively and appropriately interact, communicate, and work with individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds. It involves not only understanding and respecting diverse cultures, but also adapting one's behavior, communication style, and mindset to navigate intercultural interactions successfully. Intercultural competence goes beyond mere tolerance and requires a deeper appreciation for diversity, recognizing and valuing the unique perspectives, customs, and norms of various populations.
Interested/Affected Party
A more inclusive term than “stakeholder” (which has economic and historical roots connected to colonial history), an interested party or an affected party refers to an individual, group, or entity with a vested interest in or impacted by a particular situation, decision, project, or outcome. These parties should have a direct involvement in the matter at hand, and their concerns, opinions, or well-being may be influenced by the events or decisions in question.
Having its foundation in early Black feminist scholarship and eventually coined by African American legal scholar and civil rights advocate Kimberlé Crenshaw, Intersectionality originally highlighted the unique experiences of Black women who faced intersectional/combined forms of oppression and discrimination due to their “race”, gender, and class. The concept has since evolved and expanded to encompass a broader range of identities and social categories and analyzes how they intersect and interact to create uniquely nuanced experiences and needs for anyone who holds multiple social identities.

A social process that devalues certain groups, justifying their limited access to essential social and material resources. This systematic marginalization relegates specific individuals or communities to the edge of society, denying them an active voice, identity, safety, or meaningful place within it. Achieved through exclusion or isolation, this process prevents these marginalized groups from participating fully in political, social, and economic mainstreams enjoyed by more privileged groups of society.  


An oppressor can be defined as someone who utilizes their power to control and dominate either a specific group or an individual, or as someone who fails to use their power to confront and challenge such domination.

An oppressed individual is someone subjected to control by an oppressor and by those who, through their silence, contribute to this oppressive dominance.

Oppression is characterized by the experience of unjust treatment or control. Various forms of oppression, often interconnected, include racism, sexism, classism, heteropatriarchy, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, ableism, ageism, homophobia, transphobia, and more.


Power refers to the influence, authority, and control that individuals or groups may wield within a given environment. It encompasses the ability to shape decisions, policies, and social norms, affecting the experiences and opportunities of others. Power can be visible, hidden, or invisible, and can show up as power over others, power with others and/or power within a certain group. In most cases, power is acquired at the expense of another person or group. In an EDIB framework, the goal is often to redistribute power more equitably, creating inclusive spaces where individuals from all backgrounds can actively contribute and thrive.


Prejudice is the preconceived formation of negative opinions, feelings, or beliefs, often rooted in stereotypes, giving rise to emotions like disdain or contempt. This predisposition frequently manifests as discriminatory actions or other harmful behaviors. Alternatively, it encompasses a collection of unfavorable personal beliefs about a particular social group, prompting individuals to make premature judgments about both individuals and the group, disregarding the unique characteristics of its membership.


Privilege refers to the systemic advantages afforded to individuals based on specific characteristics that society values and upholds through its institutions. These advantages may arise from factors such as being white, having money, identifying as straight, or identifying as a cisgender man. Many individuals may not recognize these characteristics as privileges due to their normalized status in society. It's important to note that privilege is not earned but automatically awarded based on an individual's traits and characteristics.


Relationship-building is often considered a more effective model than allyship in fostering lasting and meaningful change within communities and institutions. While allyship is crucial for leveraging privilege to support marginalized groups and challenging systemic inequalities, relationship-building goes beyond transactional advocacy. Establishing genuine connections based on empathy, shared understanding, and mutual respect creates a foundation for long-term collaboration and support. In the realm of relationship building, individuals and groups commit to ongoing dialogue and cooperation, working together to address not only immediate issues but also systemic challenges. Unlike allyship, which may focus on specific instances of support, relationship building cultivates a sustained and reciprocal exchange that transcends singular actions.

Social Construct

A social construct refers to an idea, concept, product, or phenomenon that is created and maintained through human interaction and shared understanding, rather than something that exists inherently in nature. Social constructs shape our perception of reality, influence cultural norms, and guide social behavior. In other words, individuals construct meanings for things that would otherwise be meaningless. The more people join the group (or society), the meanings of these things become reality because large amounts of people believe it. It is important to note that social views and understanding of certain concepts can evolve over time, leading to changes in social constructs. Examples of social constructs include but are not limited to, gender, “race”, social class, money, organized religion, etc.

Worldview is the unique lens through which individuals perceive and interpret the world around them. It is a comprehensive amalgamation of one's personal history, experiences, cultural background, family history, and various other influences that shape their understanding of reality. This encompassing perspective plays a fundamental role in shaping beliefs, values, and attitudes, influencing how individuals engage with and make sense of the world’s complexities.


 Terms Related to "Race" and Racism
 Anti-Asian Racism
Anti-Asian racism refers to discriminatory attitudes, behaviors, and systemic structures that target individuals of Asian descent. Anti-Asian racism is not new and has been on the rise across Canada. Harmful rhetoric around the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a significant increase in the number of reports of anti-Asian harassment, discrimination, and violence. Addressing anti-Asian racism involves challenging these biases, promoting understanding, and advocating for policies that foster inclusivity and equality for individuals of Asian descent. 
 Anti-Black Racism
Anti-Black racism refers to the pervasive and systemic nature of racism that actively targets African descent/Black bodies and their communities. It is the recognition that even within racially marginalized communities, Black people are seen as the furthest away from whiteness and are viewed as inferior. Anti-Black racism can take form in many ways such as the use of derogatory language and racial slurs targeted at Black individuals, high rates of police surveillance and brutality in Black communities, and systemic biases and stereotypes in healthcare that result in disparities in the treatment and outcomes of Black patients. 
 Anti-Indigenous Racism
Anti-Indigenous racism constitutes active racial discrimination, negative stereotyping, and injustice inflicted upon First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Peoples in Canada. This deeply rooted issue is intertwined with the nuanced impacts of colonization and settler colonialism, which have historically shaped power dynamics and systemic barriers. The effects are evident in discriminatory federal policies like the Indian Act and the historical trauma inflicted by the residential school system. Settler colonialism has contributed to the overrepresentation of Indigenous Peoples in provincial criminal justice and child welfare systems, exacerbating inequities in education, well-being, and healthcare. Efforts to marginalize Indigenous knowledge systems, languages, and traditional practices further compound the impact of anti-Indigenous racism. Individual experiences of anti-Indigenous racism, including acts of hostility and violence, underscore the urgency of cultivating a society that respects and upholds the rights, dignity, and self-determination of Indigenous Peoples. 
Anti-racism refers to the active and intentional opposition to all forms of racism, discrimination, and systemic inequities based on “race". It goes beyond simply avoiding racist behaviors; instead, it involves actively challenging and dismantling the structures, policies, and practices that perpetuate racial injustice. Anti-racism calls for acknowledging and addressing both individual prejudices and privileges, and the broader social systems that disadvantage certain racial groups. Engaging in anti-racism requires ongoing self-reflection, education, and a commitment to challenging and changing the status quo.
Antisemitism manifests as either covert or overt hostility, encompassing hatred, discrimination, or bias directed at individual Jewish people or the Jewish community. This unwarranted animosity is rooted in factors connected to their religion, ethnicity, and the extensive cultural, historical, intellectual, and religious heritage that defines Jewish identity. Despite being a form of discrimination often perpetuated based on religious beliefs, antisemitism can also intersect with racial dimensions due to the diverse racial backgrounds of Jewish individuals. Such prejudice can result in exclusionary practices, systemic discrimination, and even acts of violence against Jewish individuals or communities. Combating antisemitism requires fostering understanding, promoting tolerance, and addressing the historical and contemporary factors that contribute to this multifaceted and deeply rooted form of discrimination.

In the context of the Americas, colonization represents a dark chapter marked by the systematic subjugation of Indigenous peoples and the brutal institution of slavery imposed on enslaved Africans. European powers, driven by ambitions of conquest and exploitation, established colonies across the Americas, upholding institutions of slavery and perpetrating genocide against Indigenous populations.


Colonization facilitated the ruthless exploitation of Indigenous lands and resources, often through violent conquest and forced displacement. European colonizers sought to extract wealth and establish dominance, leading to the decimation of Indigenous societies and cultures through warfare, disease, and displacement. Simultaneously, the Transatlantic Slave Trade became a cornerstone of colonial economies, with millions of Africans forcibly abducted, enslaved, and transported to the Americas under brutal conditions. The enslavement of Africans served to fuel the economic prosperity of European colonies, as enslaved individuals were subjected to inhumane treatment, forced labor, and cultural erasure.


Colonization entrenched systems of racial hierarchy and exploitation, perpetuating deep-seated inequalities and injustices that continue to shape societies in the Americas today.

Colorism, also known as shadeism, refers to a form of discrimination or prejudice based on the skin color or shade within a particular racial or ethnic group. Unlike racism, colorism focuses specifically on variations in skin color. This phenomenon often results in the unfair treatment or favoritism towards individuals with lighter skin tones while marginalizing or discriminating against those with darker skin tones.

Ethnicity is a social construct that defines a group of people based on shared cultural heritage, often common ancestry, language, faith and spiritual belief systems, customs, and traditions. Unlike “race”, which is often associated with physical characteristics, ethnicity is more closely tied to cultural identity.

Eurocentrism, particularly evident in the colonial enterprises of European powers like the British, French, Spanish, and others, epitomizes a worldview that places European culture, history, and intellect at the apex of human achievement. Rooted in colonial ideologies, Eurocentrism justified the expansionist agendas of these powers by propagating notions of European superiority while disregarding or erasing the rich cultural tapestries of Indigenous and non-European societies. Through colonial hegemony, European powers imposed their languages, religions, and norms onto colonized peoples, eroding Indigenous languages, traditions, and identities in the process. Eurocentric historical narratives lionized European conquests while minimizing the violence and exploitation wrought upon Indigenous populations, perpetuating a skewed portrayal of history that sustains colonial legacies. The enduring impact of Eurocentrism reverberates in post-colonial societies, where systemic inequalities, cultural hegemony, and epistemic violence persist.
Islamophobia upholds unwarranted and hostile attitudes directed towards Muslims, those who follow the Islamic faith. It often portrays Islam as an unchanging and monolithic entity, unfairly depicting Muslims as barbaric, irrational, primitive, and sexist. This unfounded hostility serves as a basis for justifying discriminatory actions against Muslims and their exclusion from broader social norms. In addition to individual acts of intolerance and profiling, Islamophobia can lead to viewing and treating Muslims as a greater security threat on an institutional, systemic, and social level. Islamophobia often intersects with racial biases, as individuals who are Muslim may also belong to specific racial or ethnic groups. Discrimination against Muslims can involve stereotypes, prejudices, and biases that may be rooted in both religious and racial factors.
"Race""Race" is a socially constructed phenomenon that categorizes and classifies groups of people based on perceived physical and genetic attributes, such as skin color, facial features, and hair texture. The concept of "race" emerged in the 1600s with the trans-Atlantic slave trade, justifying the institutions of slavery and colonization. Constructed as a hierarchical system of human grouping, “race” established the logic of racism intended to identify, exploit, denigrate, and decimate certain racial groups across nations, regions, and the world. “Race” has no basis in biological reality and, as such, has no meaning independent of its social definitions. It has become common practice to put “race” in quotation marks to make a point about its historical usage and to highlight that it has no real biological foundation.


Racialization: Racialization refers to the process of constructing “races” by ascribing unequal cultural and biological meaning to physical characteristics such as skin color, facial features, and hair texture.


Racialized: The term racialized has been utilized to describe individuals who are neither white nor Indigenous, capturing the experiences of racially marginalized groups that fall outside of those categories. However, it would be inaccurate to claim that all “races” aren't racialized since they all undergo the process of racialization in their construction. The term racially marginalized is more acceptable.

 Racially Marginalized
Racially marginalized refers to individuals or communities who experience systemic and social disadvantages, discrimination, or exclusion based on their racial identity (racism). This term encompasses various racial groups, such as Indigenous, Black, Asian, and non-white communities. Racial marginalization involves structural and social factors that limit equitable access to opportunities, resources, and privileges, perpetuating stereotypes, unequal treatment, and barriers to full participation in various aspects of society, contributing to ongoing social inequalities.
Racism: Racism is a modern invention, arising out of colonization and slavery by European powers. It is a complex and pervasive social phenomenon characterized by the belief in the inherent superiority of one “race” over another, leading to discriminatory practices, policies, and attitudes that disadvantage and marginalize individuals or groups based on their racial identity. Racism manifests in many ways, from dislike and avoidance of people based on their “race” to acts of “race”-based violence. Racism can manifest at internalized, interpersonal, institutional, and systemic levels:


Internalized Racism: Internalized racism resides within individuals, encompassing our personal beliefs and biases about “race” and racism. This may manifest in various ways, including harboring prejudices against individuals of a different “race”, internalized oppression wherein racially marginalized groups hold negative beliefs about themselves, or internalized privilege wherein white individuals may adopt beliefs of superiority or entitlement.


Interpersonal Racism: Interpersonal Racism unfolds in individual interactions. It occurs when personal racial beliefs influence public engagements, leading to biased behaviors and attitudes in social settings.


Institutional Racism: Institutional Racism transpires within institutions and systems of power, referring to the unjust policies and discriminatory practices embedded in specific institutions such as schools and workplaces. These practices routinely yield racially inequitable outcomes for racially marginalized groups and confer advantages to white individuals. Those within institutions contribute to this power dynamic by perpetuating racial inequities.


Systemic Racism: Systemic Racism, also known as Structural racism, refers to unfair laws, policies, or practices that limit people's access to important services, opportunities, and resources based on their “race”. This kind of bias isn't just about one incident—it affects many parts of people's lives. It has a lasting impact on families, job opportunities, mental and physical health, interactions with the criminal justice system, and more.

 White Privilege
White privilege refers to the inherent and systemic advantages, opportunities, and benefits afforded to individuals solely based on being perceived as white in societies where white racial identity holds social, economic, and political power. This privilege manifests in various forms, including but not limited to preferential treatment, access to resources, protection from discrimination, and greater social acceptance, often operating invisibly to those who possess it while disadvantaging non-white individuals and perpetuating systems of inequality and oppression.

Within systems that undergo the process of racialization, white privilege emerges as a product of the dominant position assigned to whiteness, which is often associated with superiority, normativity, and legitimacy. This positioning grants individuals perceived as white advantages over those who are racialized as non-white, perpetuating systemic inequalities, and reinforcing the structures that maintain racial hierarchies.

Xenophobia is the irrational fear, hostility, or dislike directed towards people from other countries or cultures. It can manifest as prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism against individuals or groups perceived as “foreign” or “different”. Xenophobia often stems from a lack of understanding, cultural differences, economic concerns, or political tensions, and it can lead to harmful behaviors, exclusionary policies, or even acts of violence against those perceived as outsiders.
 Terms Related to Indigenous Peoples
 The '60s Scoop and the Millennial Scoop

The '60s Scoop and the Millennial Scoop are terms used to describe significant periods of Indigenous child removal and placement into non-Indigenous foster or adoptive homes in Canada.


  • The ‘60s Scoop: The ‘60s Scoop refers to a government policy and practice in Canada that occurred primarily during the 1960s and continued into the 1980s. It involved the mass removal of Indigenous children, often without consent or proper consultation with Indigenous communities, from their families, communities, and cultures. These children were placed in foster care or adopted by non-Indigenous families, often far from their communities and cultural roots. The ‘60s Scoop had devastating consequences for Indigenous individuals, families, and communities, including loss of cultural identity, language, and connection to their heritage.
  • The Millennial Scoop:  The Millennial Scoop is a continuation of the child welfare crisis faced by Indigenous communities in Canada, extending from the 1980s to the present day. It reflects ongoing systemic issues within the child welfare system, including overrepresentation of Indigenous children in care, lack of culturally appropriate services, and inadequate support for Indigenous families. The Millennial Scoop has perpetuated intergenerational trauma and systemic inequalities, contributing to the cycle of Indigenous child removal and the erosion of Indigenous cultures and communities.


Elder: An Elder is a revered member of the community who possesses wisdom, experience, and knowledge passed down through generations. Elders play pivotal roles in preserving cultural traditions, offering guidance, and providing spiritual and emotional support to individuals and communities. They serve as custodians of Indigenous knowledge, oral history, and cultural practices, embodying values of respect, reciprocity, and interconnectedness with the land and community. Elders often act as mediators, teachers, healers, and advisors, contributing to the well-being and cohesion of their communities through their leadership and guidance. 
 First Nation
First Nation is a term used to identify Indigenous peoples of Canada who are neither Métis nor Inuit. Its widespread adoption in the 1970s stemmed from a collective desire to replace the outdated and offensive terms "Indian" and "Indian band." Despite its emergence as a more culturally sensitive alternative, the continued use of "First Nation" also finds legal grounding in pivotal documents such as the Constitution Act of 1982 and the Indian Act.


In the legal framework of the Indian Act, the term "Indian" remains the official designation for Indigenous individuals registered under the Act. However, the term "First Nations" encompasses a broader spectrum of Indigenous identities, such as those who live on or off reserve, those who may or may not have legal status under the Indian Act, and those who may or may not be registered members of a community or nation.

 Indian Act, 1867
The Indian Act is a deeply entrenched piece of Canadian federal legislation, originating in 1876, which not only outlines certain government obligations but also imposes strict regulations on the management of Indian reserve lands. However, its impact extends far beyond administrative measures, as it has historically been wielded as a tool of oppression against Indigenous peoples.


Throughout its history, the Indian Act has been instrumentalized to erode the cultural identity and autonomy of First Nations peoples. It imposed restrictive measures such as limitations on hunting, fishing, and land ownership, directly impeding Indigenous peoples' traditional ways of life and economic self-sufficiency. Moreover, the Act prohibited vital spiritual ceremonies such as the Potlatch, Pow-wow, and Sun Dance, effectively criminalizing Indigenous cultural practices and expressions of spirituality.


The oppressive nature of the Indian Act persisted for decades, with detrimental effects on Indigenous communities across Canada. It wasn't until the 1950s that some of the most egregious restrictions began to be lifted, although the Act continued to exert control over many aspects of Indigenous peoples' lives. Despite amendments over the years, including the most recent in 1985, the Indian Act remains a pervasive force in the lives of Indigenous peoples, regulating everything from land management to governance structures. Its continued existence perpetuates systemic oppression, institutionalized racism, and the denial of Indigenous self-determination.


Efforts to dismantle the Indian Act are ongoing, fueled by a recognition of its role in perpetuating colonial injustices. However, the reluctance of government leaders to take decisive action underscores the need for a viable alternative that respects Indigenous sovereignty, upholds treaty rights, and supports meaningful reconciliation. Until then, the Indian Act stands as a stark reminder of Canada's colonial legacy and the ongoing struggle for Indigenous rights and self-determination.

Indigenous: An umbrella term encompassing First Nations (including both status and non-status individuals), Métis, and Inuit peoples, who are the original inhabitants of Canada's lands. "Indigenous" serves as an umbrella term to collectively or separately refer to these distinct groups, as recognized in international contexts such as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). While historically associated with governmental policies, "Indigenous" has increasingly been embraced by activists and communities as a preferred term, highlighting its significance in promoting cultural resurgence, self-determination, and advocacy for Indigenous rights within Canada and globally. 
 Indigenization vs Decolonization
Indigenization and Decolonization are interconnected but distinct concepts that address the legacy of colonialism and its impact on Indigenous peoples and societies:


Indigenization involves the incorporation, revitalization, or resurgence of Indigenous perspectives, knowledge systems, languages, cultures, and values within institutions, systems, and spaces that have historically marginalized or excluded Indigenous voices and experiences. It seeks to center Indigenous ways of knowing, being, and doing, promoting cultural authenticity, self-determination, and sovereignty for Indigenous communities. Indigenization efforts can take various forms, such as integrating Indigenous content into educational curricula, incorporating Indigenous languages and teachings into public institutions, fostering Indigenous leadership and governance models, and promoting Indigenous representation in media, arts, and public discourse.


Decolonization refers to the process of challenging and dismantling colonial structures, ideologies, and power dynamics that perpetuate the oppression, dispossession, and marginalization of Indigenous peoples and lands.

It involves recognizing and addressing the ongoing impacts of colonialism on Indigenous communities, including land theft, cultural genocide, systemic racism, and socio-economic inequality. Decolonization requires the restoration of Indigenous sovereignty, land rights, and self-governance, as well as the recognition and implementation of Indigenous laws, treaties, and rights frameworks. It also entails disrupting colonial mindsets, attitudes, and behaviors among non-Indigenous peoples and institutions, fostering solidarity, relationship building, and accountability in support of Indigenous struggles for justice and self-determination.

 Indigenous Genocide
Indigenous genocide refers to the deliberate and systematic destruction, displacement, and extermination of Indigenous peoples and cultures by colonial powers, governments, or settler societies. It encompasses a range of actions, policies, and practices aimed at eradicating Indigenous populations, erasing their cultural identities, and seizing their lands and resources.


Indigenous genocide can take various forms, including:

  • Mass killings and violence: Direct acts of violence, massacres, and military campaigns targeting Indigenous communities with the intent to eliminate or subjugate them.
  • Forced displacement and removal: Policies of forced relocation, ethnic cleansing, and removal from ancestral lands, often resulting in widespread death, suffering, and loss of cultural heritage.
  • Cultural genocide: Systemic efforts to undermine and destroy Indigenous cultures, languages, traditions, and spiritual practices through assimilation, forced conversion, residential schools, cultural suppression, and the banning of traditional ceremonies and customs.
  • Biological genocide: Forced sterilization, medical experimentation, exposure to diseases, and other forms of biological warfare aimed at reducing Indigenous populations and weakening their ability to resist colonization.


Indigenous genocide has occurred on every inhabited continent throughout history, driven by colonial expansion, capitalist exploitation, racism, and white supremacy. Its legacy continues to shape Indigenous experiences of trauma, dispossession, marginalization, and intergenerational suffering.


 Indigenous Ways of Knowing, Being, and Doing
Indigenous Ways of Knowing, Being, and Doing refers to holistic frameworks, principles, and practices that guide Indigenous peoples' relationships with themselves, their communities, the natural world, and the spiritual realm. It encompasses interconnected ways of understanding, interacting with, and navigating the world that are rooted in Indigenous cultures, traditions, and worldviews.
  • Knowing: Indigenous ways of knowing encompass diverse forms of knowledge acquisition, including oral traditions, storytelling, observation, ceremony, and experiential learning. Knowledge is passed down through generations and is often embedded in cultural practices, languages, songs, and ceremonies. Indigenous ways of knowing prioritize experiential learning, interconnectedness, and holistic understandings of the world.
  • Being: Indigenous ways of being reflect attitudes, values, and principles that guide individuals and communities in their interactions with one another, the environment, and the spiritual realm. Being in Indigenous contexts emphasizes interconnectedness, reciprocity, respect, humility, and balance. It involves understanding one's place within the broader web of life and recognizing the inherent worth and dignity of all beings.
  • Doing: Indigenous ways of doing encompass practical actions, behaviors, and rituals that manifest Indigenous values and principles in daily life. This includes practices related to land stewardship, sustainable resource management, community governance, healing ceremonies, and cultural celebrations. Indigenous ways of doing prioritize relationships, responsibility, and resilience, seeking to uphold cultural traditions while adapting to changing circumstances.
While "Indigiqueer" and "Two-Spirit" both acknowledge the intersection of Indigenous and queer identities, they reflect distinct cultural and historical contexts. "Indigiqueer" is a term that emerged more recently within contemporary queer discourse and often encompasses a broader range of queer identities among Indigenous peoples. "Two-Spirit," on the other hand, is a specific term rooted in Indigenous languages and traditions, reflecting Indigenous understandings of gender and spirituality. Both terms highlight the diversity and resilience of Indigenous queer experiences and contribute to ongoing conversations about identity, inclusion, and social justice.
The Inuit are the Indigenous People of Arctic Canada, encompassing vast regions of land, water, and ice that form their ancestral homeland. The term "Inuit" translates to "the people" in Inuktitut, the language of the Inuit, and is the name by which they refer to themselves. Central to Inuit culture and identity is a deep connection to the land, water, and ice of their homeland, which they collectively refer to as Inuit Nunangat. This holistic view recognizes the interdependence of natural elements and their integral role in sustaining Inuit traditions and ways of life.


In Canada, the Inuit are represented across four comprehensive land claims regions, spanning one-third of the country's territory: Nunavut, Inuvialuit (Northwest Territories), Nunavik (Northern Quebec), and Nunatsiavut (Labrador). Unlike Indigenous peoples governed by the Indian Act, the Inuit fall outside its jurisdiction. However, a 1939 Supreme Court of Canada ruling extended the federal government's authority over laws affecting "Indians, and lands reserved for Indians" to include Inuit. Inuit communities are structured around settlements rather than reserves, rendering terms like "on-reserve" or "off-reserve" inapplicable to their governance and land management practices.

 Land Acknowledgement
A land acknowledgment is a formal statement or recognition that acknowledges Indigenous peoples and their enduring connection to the land on which an event takes place or where an institution operates. It is an acknowledgment of the historical and ongoing colonization, displacement, and oppression experienced by Indigenous communities.


However, a land acknowledgment can be seen as performative or superficial if it is not accompanied by genuine efforts to address the historical and ongoing injustices experienced by Indigenous peoples, including the restitution of land and resources. In such cases, the acknowledgment may serve to appease without challenging the structures of power and privilege that perpetuate Indigenous dispossession and marginalization.


Without concrete actions to support Indigenous sovereignty, self-determination, and land rights, a land acknowledgment risks becoming a hollow gesture that fails to address the root causes of colonialism and systemic oppression.

The Métis are a distinct people with a rich history, culture, language, and territory that sets them apart within Canada's diverse Indigenous landscape. They trace their ancestry to the offspring of unions between First Nations individuals and European settlers. While initially characterized by mixed ancestry, subsequent intermarriages among these individuals led to the emergence of the Métis Nation.


Unlike Indigenous peoples governed by the Indian Act, the Métis did not reside on reserves, and therefore, terms such as "on-reserve" or "off-reserve" do not apply to them. In 1938, recognizing their unique identity and needs, the Alberta government allocated 1.25 million acres of land for eight Métis settlements. However, Métis organizations across Canada may have differing criteria regarding who qualifies as a Métis person, reflecting the diversity of Métis identities and experiences within Indigenous communities.

 Missing, Murdered, Exploited Indigenous Peoples (MMIP)
Missing, Murdered, Exploited Indigenous Peoples (MMIP) refers to the alarming phenomenon of Indigenous individuals, particularly women, girls, Two-Spirit, and transgender individuals, who have disappeared, been murdered, or exploited under various circumstances. This issue reflects a broader pattern of violence, discrimination, and systemic neglect that disproportionately affects Indigenous communities.


MMIP is deeply rooted in historical and ongoing colonialism, racism, misogyny, poverty, and inadequate social services that create conditions of vulnerability and impunity for perpetrators. Indigenous women, girls, and queer individuals are particularly vulnerable to violence due to intersecting forms of discrimination and marginalization.

Pan-Indigenous refers to a perspective, movement, or approach that transcends specific Indigenous cultures, nations, or groups, emphasizing shared experiences, interests, and goals among Indigenous peoples globally. It acknowledges the diverse but interconnected struggles, histories, and identities of Indigenous communities worldwide. The pan-Indigenous perspective often seeks to foster solidarity, collaboration, and mutual support among Indigenous peoples, recognizing common challenges such as colonialism, environmental degradation, cultural preservation, and social justice issues. This approach emphasizes the importance of respecting and valuing the unique traditions, languages, and sovereignty of individual Indigenous groups while also advocating for collective rights and recognition on a broader scale.
Pretendian is a term that refers to individuals who falsely claim Indigenous ancestry or identity for personal gain, recognition, or to appropriate Indigenous cultures. It is a portmanteau of "pretend" and "Indian," and it is often used within Indigenous communities to criticize or call out individuals who inaccurately assert Indigenous heritage without legitimate connections to Indigenous peoples or communities. The term highlights the harmful act of cultural appropriation and the disrespect it shows towards Indigenous cultures and identities. Individuals labeled as pretendians are typically seen as exploiting and trivializing Indigenous experiences and histories for their own purposes.


 The Residential School Era
The Residential School Era represents a harrowing and dark chapter in Canadian history characterized by the systemic oppression, cultural genocide, and immense suffering inflicted upon Indigenous peoples. During this era, which spanned from the late 19th century to the late 20th century, Indigenous children were forcibly removed from their families and communities and placed into government-sponsored and church-run residential schools.


Within these institutions, Indigenous children were subjected to unimaginable horrors:

  • Forced Assimilation: The primary objective of residential schools was to forcibly assimilate Indigenous children into Euro-Canadian culture. Indigenous languages, cultural practices, and spiritual beliefs were prohibited and actively suppressed, resulting in the loss of identity and cultural heritage.
  • Physical and Emotional Abuse: Many children endured physical, emotional, and sexual abuse at the hands of school staff. Punishments were severe, and children lived in constant fear of retribution for any perceived transgression.
  • Neglect and Inhumane Conditions: Residential schools were characterized by overcrowded and unsanitary living conditions, inadequate nutrition, and medical neglect. Many children suffered from malnutrition, illness, and disease, with limited access to proper healthcare or emotional support.
  • Trauma and Generational Impact: The trauma inflicted upon Indigenous children in residential schools had profound and long-lasting effects that continue to reverberate through Indigenous communities today. The intergenerational transmission of trauma has resulted in systemic social, economic, and health disparities among Indigenous peoples.
  • Cultural Genocide: The Residential School Era represents a deliberate campaign of cultural genocide aimed at eradicating Indigenous languages, traditions, and ways of life. The forced separation of children from their families and communities severed intergenerational ties and disrupted the transmission of Indigenous knowledge and practices.


The Residential School Era stands as a stark reminder of the enduring legacy of colonialism, racism, and systemic injustice in Canada. Efforts toward reconciliation and healing are ongoing, but the scars of the Residential School Era continue to shape Indigenous-settler relations and the pursuit of justice and reconciliation in Canadian society.

Settler-colonialism in Canada is a complex historical process marked by the displacement, dispossession, and oppression of Indigenous peoples. From the earliest European explorations to the establishment of colonial settlements, European settlers sought to assert dominance over Indigenous lands, resources, and cultures. This process was driven by a combination of territorial expansion, institutionalized racism, and the exploitation of Indigenous lands and resources for economic gain.


Indigenous oppression under settler-colonialism took many forms, including the imposition of discriminatory laws and policies, such as the Indian Act and the residential school system, which aimed to assimilate Indigenous peoples into Euro-Canadian society. These policies forcibly removed Indigenous children from their families and communities, leading to the loss of language, culture, and identity. Moreover, the dispossession of Indigenous lands and the destruction of traditional livelihoods further marginalized Indigenous communities, exacerbating social and economic inequalities.


Despite centuries of colonization and oppression, Indigenous peoples in Canada have demonstrated resilience and resistance in the face of adversity. Indigenous-led movements for land rights, treaty recognition, and cultural revitalization have challenged the legacies of settler-colonialism and called for justice, conciliation, and decolonization.

 Traditional knowledge
Traditional knowledge refers to the accumulated wisdom, practices, beliefs, and innovations developed and passed down through generations within Indigenous communities and cultures. It encompasses a wide range of knowledge systems related to agriculture, medicine, ecology, spirituality, governance, storytelling, crafts, and other aspects of daily life.


Traditional knowledge is deeply rooted in Indigenous peoples' relationships with their lands, environments, ancestors, and spiritual beliefs. It reflects a holistic understanding of the interconnectedness of all living beings and the importance of sustainable and harmonious coexistence with nature. Traditional knowledge is typically transmitted orally or through experiential learning, storytelling, ceremonies, and community practices.

 Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Calls to Action
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Calls to Action are a series of 94 recommendations aimed at addressing the legacy of residential schools and advancing the process of reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada. These Calls to Action were issued as part of the final report of the TRC, which was released in 2015. Overall, the TRC Calls to Action provide a comprehensive framework for addressing the injustices of the past and building a more just, equitable, and inclusive future for all Canadians. They call upon governments, institutions, communities, and individuals to take concrete actions to advance the process of reconciliation and to build positive and respectful relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.
Turtle Island
Turtle Island is the name given to North America by Indigenous peoples such as the Lenape, Iroquois, Anishnaabe, and other Woodland Nations. The term originates from a creation story about Sky Woman, where North America is described as the back of a turtle submerged in the waters. This concept holds deep spiritual and cultural significance for Indigenous communities, representing their interconnectedness with the land, waters, and all living beings.


In contemporary contexts, many Indigenous peoples, Indigenous rights activists, and environmental activists embrace the term Turtle Island to honor Indigenous perspectives, assert sovereignty over ancestral lands, and advocate for environmental stewardship and conservation efforts. It serves as a symbol of resilience, respect for traditional knowledge, and commitment to preserving the natural world for future generations.

Two-Spirit is a term originating from Indigenous cultures, encapsulating a holistic understanding of identity that goes beyond conventional gender binaries. It denotes an Indigenous individual who recognizes and embraces the coexistence of both masculine and feminine energies within themselves, encompassing dimensions of sexual, gender, and spiritual identity in a culturally affirming manner. This term reflects a profound connection to Indigenous traditions and ways of being, acknowledging the diversity of human expression and experience within Indigenous communities.
 United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) is a comprehensive international instrument that sets out the collective rights of Indigenous peoples around the world. It was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in September 2007, with an overwhelming majority of member states voting in favor of its adoption. While UNDRIP is not legally binding, it represents a crucial milestone in the recognition and protection of Indigenous rights on the international stage.


Key principles and provisions of UNDRIP include Indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination; rights to lands, territories, and resources; cultural rights and identity; to give or withhold free, prior, and informed consent on any projects and activities that may affect their lands, territories, and resources; protection from discrimination and violence; access to justice, remedies, and reparations for violations of their rights; and the right to participate fully and effectively in all matters that concern them.

 Terms Related to Gender and Sexuality 

Agender refers to an individual who identifies as having no gender or as being without a specific gender identity. Agender individuals do not feel a connection to any gender, including both the traditional binary genders of male and female, as well as non-binary or other gender identities.


People who identify as agender may experience a sense of neutrality, feeling that gender does not play a significant role in their sense of self or identity.


Asexuality is a sexual orientation characterized by a lack of sexual attraction or interest in sexual activity with others. Individuals who identify as asexual may still experience romantic attraction and desire emotional intimacy and relationships, but they do not experience sexual attraction in the same way that individuals of other sexual orientations might.

Asexuality is a spectrum, and individuals may identify with different labels within the asexual community based on their experiences and feelings. Some asexual individuals may identify as aromantic, meaning they do not experience romantic attraction either, while others may experience romantic attraction but not sexual attraction.



Bisexuality is a sexual orientation characterized by the potential for experiencing sexual and/or romantic attraction to individuals of more than one gender. Bisexual individuals may be attracted to people of their own gender as well as other genders.

It is important to understand that bisexuality is not limited to attraction to only two genders; rather, it encompasses a spectrum of attractions that may include individuals of any gender identity. Bisexuality challenges the binary concept of sexual orientation and reflects the diversity of human experiences and attractions.

A cisgender person is someone whose gender identity aligns with the sex they were assigned at birth. For example, if an individual was assigned female at birth and identifies as a woman, she is considered cisgender.
Gender vs Sex

While the terms "gender" and "sex" are related, it's important to recognize that they refer to distinct concepts and have different implications. It is important to use these terms accurately and respectfully, especially in contexts where clarity and sensitivity are necessary, such as healthcare, education, and policymaking.


Gender: Gender is a multifaceted and socially constructed concept that encompasses a range of identities, expressions, roles, and behaviors that individuals may identify with. It is not solely determined by biological factors but is influenced by cultural, social, and personal factors.


Sex: Sex refers to a combination of physical, chromosomal, hormonal, and reproductive attributes that may be used to categorize individuals as male, female, or intersex. These characteristics are typically assigned at birth based on observable physical traits, but it's important to recognize that sex is diverse and may not fit neatly into binary categories.

Gender-Fluid vs Non-Binary

These are related terms that describe different aspects of gender identity and expression.


Gender-fluid: Gender-fluid individuals experience a flexible and changeable gender identity, with their gender identity shifting over time. They may feel more masculine, feminine, or different genders on different days or in varying situations.


Non-Binary: Non-Binary individuals do not exclusively identify as either male or female, falling outside the traditional binary concept of gender. While non-binary individuals may have a stable and consistent gender identity, it does not fit within the binary framework, and they may identify as a mix of genders, neither gender, a different gender, or have a fluid gender expression.

Gender Identity
Gender identity refers to a deeply held sense of one's own gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex assigned at birth. It is a personal understanding of oneself as male, female, both, neither, or somewhere along or outside the gender spectrum. Gender identity is often internally experienced and may be influenced by a variety of factors including culture, upbringing, personal experiences, and societal expectations. It is distinct from biological sex and encompasses a wide range of identities beyond the traditional binary of male and female, including non-binary, genderfluid, and many others. Gender identity is an integral aspect of an individual's identity and may evolve.
Heterosexuality, often colloquially referred to as being straight, refers to a sexual orientation where individuals experience romantic and sexual attraction to another gender other than their own, typically between a person who identifies as male and a person who identifies as female. It is one of the most common sexual orientations and is often considered the social norm in many cultures and societies.

Homophobia is a term used to describe prejudice, discrimination, hostility, or fear directed towards members of the 2SLGBTq+ community or towards behaviors or identities that are perceived to be outside of heterosexual norms.

Homophobia can manifest in various forms, including verbal abuse, physical violence, exclusion, harassment, and the denial of rights and opportunities to 2SLGBTQ+ individuals. It is rooted in social attitudes, stereotypes, and beliefs that perpetuate negative attitudes toward non-heterosexual orientations and gender identities.

Homosexuality, often colloquially referred to as being gay, is a sexual orientation characterized by attraction, romantic feelings, or sexual desire predominantly towards individuals of the same gender. It is one of the many diverse expressions of human sexuality, reflecting the natural spectrum of human experiences and identities. Individuals who identify as homosexual may experience romantic and sexual connections with people of the same sex or gender.
Intersex is a term used to describe a natural and normal variation of human biology. The term describes a range of variations in sex characteristics that do not fit typical definitions of male or female. These variations may include differences in chromosomes, hormones, genitalia, and reproductive anatomy. Intersex individuals may be born with characteristics that are not exclusively male or female, or they may have combinations of male and female traits.
Misogyny vs Sexism

Misogyny and sexism are related concepts that refer to discrimination or prejudice based on gender, particularly against women, but they have distinct meanings:


Misogyny: Misogyny is the hatred, dislike, or prejudice against women or girls. It involves a deep-seated hostility, contempt, or devaluation of women based solely on their gender. Misogyny can manifest in various forms, including verbal abuse, harassment, violence, and systemic discrimination. It often perpetuates harmful stereotypes and reinforces power dynamics that marginalize and oppress women.


Sexism: Sexism perpetuates a system of patriarchy where men hold power and privilege and everyone else is subordinate to them. Sexism is both discrimination based on gender and the attitudes, stereotypes, and cultural elements that promote this discrimination. It is important to note that sexism, like any other form of oppression, is related to power, who has power and who is given power by society.


Misogynoir is the fear and/or hatred directed specifically towards Black women. Coined by the queer Black feminist Moya Bailey, it merges "misogyny" with the French word for black, "noir," highlighting the unique intersection of racism and misogyny Black women encounter. Unlike traditional misogyny, which can target women of any race, misogynoir is specific to Black women yet can be perpetuated by individuals of any gender or “race”. For instance, expressions of discomfort by Black women are often unfairly dismissed or stereotyped as the "angry Black woman" trope.

Similarly, transmisogynoir denotes the fear and/or hatred directed at Black trans women, compounding the intersectional challenges they face.


Pansexuality is a sexual orientation characterized by the potential for experiencing romantic or sexual attraction to individuals regardless of their gender identity or expression. Unlike some other sexual orientations that may be based on attraction to specific genders, pansexuality emphasizes the capacity to be attracted to people across the gender spectrum, including those who identify as male, female, transgender, non-binary, genderfluid, or any other gender identity.


Pansexuality is often associated with an openness to all forms of gender expression and a focus on the individual's personality, emotions, and connection rather than their gender identity or physical characteristics

Patriarchy vs Heteropatriarchy

Patriarchy and Heteropatriarchy are related concepts that describe systems of power and oppression based on gender and sexuality, but they have distinct focuses:


Patriarchy: Patriarchy refers to a social system in which men hold primary power and authority, both in the social structure and within individual households and communities. It is characterized by the dominance of masculine norms and values, the marginalization of women, and the perpetuation of gender-based inequalities. Patriarchy can manifest in various forms, including unequal access to resources, restrictive gender roles, and the normalization of male privilege and control.


Heteropatriarchy: Heteropatriarchy extends the concept of patriarchy to include the privileging of heterosexuality as the normative and dominant sexual orientation within patriarchal systems. It encompasses the intersections of gender and sexuality, reinforcing the idea that heterosexual relationships and norms are superior and natural, while marginalizing and stigmatizing non-heterosexual orientations and identities. Heteropatriarchy perpetuates not only gender-based oppression but also homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.


Queer is used in various ways, including as an umbrella term for 2SLGBTQ+ identities, and can be used to describe a sexual orientation that is not exclusively straight or a gender identity that doesn't fit within the traditional binary understanding of gender.


At one time this was exclusively used as a slur by non-queer people. However, recently this term has been reclaimed by certain queer communities and is conceptualized as being more inclusive.

Questioning, or unsure, are used to describe an individual's uncertainty or exploration of their own sexual orientation or gender identity. Individuals who are questioning or unsure may be in the process of self-discovery and may not have a clear understanding of their own attractions or gender identity at a given time.
 Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment refers to unwelcome or unwanted behavior of a sexual nature that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment for the recipient. It can take various forms, including verbal, non-verbal, or physical conduct that is sexual and interferes with an individual's ability to work, study, or participate in daily activities.


Examples of sexual harassment may include unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, sexually suggestive comments or jokes, leering, unwelcome touching or groping, displaying sexually explicit materials, and other forms of behavior that make the recipient feel uncomfortable, threatened, or demeaned.


Sexual harassment can occur in any setting, including workplaces, educational institutions, public spaces, and online environments.

Transitioning refers to the process through which transgender individuals make changes to align their gender identity with their outward appearance, expression, and social roles. Transitioning is a deeply personal and individualized journey that may involve various social, legal, and medical steps, depending on the individual's needs and preferences:
  • Social Transition: Social transitioning involves changes in name, pronouns, clothing, hairstyle, and other aspects of presentation to better reflect one's gender identity. This may include coming out to friends, family, colleagues, and community members and requesting that they use the individual's chosen name and pronouns.
  • Legal Transition: Legal transitioning involves changing legal documents such as identification, driver's licenses, passports, and birth certificates to reflect one's gender identity. The specific procedures and requirements for legal transition vary by jurisdiction.
  • Medical Transition: Medical transitioning may involve hormone therapy and/or gender-affirming surgeries to alter one's physical characteristics to better align with their gender identity. Hormone therapy can help individuals develop secondary sex characteristics consistent with their gender identity, while surgeries may include procedures such as chest surgery, facial feminization or masculinization surgery, and genital reconstruction surgery. It's important to recognize that not all transgender individuals undergo medical transition, and the steps taken during transitioning are highly individualized.
Transgender, or trans, is a term used to describe someone whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. For example, if an individual was assigned male at birth but identifies and lives as a woman, she is considered transgender.

Transgender individuals may experience a deep and persistent discomfort with the gender they were assigned at birth and may take steps to live authentically in alignment with their gender identity.

Transphobia refers to prejudice, discrimination, hostility, or fear directed towards individuals who are transgender, gender-fluid and/or non-binary. It encompasses attitudes, beliefs, behaviors, and systemic practices that marginalize, oppress, or invalidate transgender people and their identities.

Transphobia can manifest in various forms, including verbal abuse, physical violence, harassment, exclusion, denial of rights and opportunities, and microaggressions. It is rooted in social norms, stereotypes, and misconceptions about gender identity and expression, and it often intersects with other forms of oppression.

 Terms Related to Physical, Mental and Emotional Abilities 

Ableism refers to the prejudice or discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Detecting ableism can be complex, as it often presents itself through expectations, assumptions, values, actions, and verbal communication. Additionally, there exists an implicit assumption that everyone possesses typical abilities and is able-bodied.

Ableism encompasses a wide range of discriminatory practices, including but not limited to:

  • Lack of wheelchair-accessible bathrooms
  • Small or difficult-to-read type/print
  • Activities that require a high level of mobility
  • Failure to provide adjustments for diverse communication styles


Ableism perpetuates the normalization of people without disabilities, resulting in the privileging of "normal ability" and the exclusion of people with disabilities across various social spheres. It involves both denying access to individuals with disabilities and fostering exclusive attitudes among able-bodied individuals.

Accessibility is the proactive endeavor to ensure that information, activities, and environments are readily comprehensible, meaningful, and usable for the widest range of individuals possible. It involves the deliberate design and implementation of inclusive strategies and adjustments to remove barriers and promote equal participation, regardless of individual abilities or characteristics.
Adjustment is a term used to describe modifications, changes, or adaptations made to environments, policies, practices, or interactions to ensure inclusivity and accessibility for all individuals. Unlike the term "accommodation," which may imply a one-size-fits-all approach or the need to fit individuals into existing structures, "adjustment" emphasizes the flexibility and responsiveness required to meet the unique needs and preferences of individuals.

Ageism is the social normalization and privileging of individuals within a preferred age range. This preferred age range determines who is considered credible, receives tailored goods and services, holds influence over social decisions, and is valued as a member of society. As a result, ageism perpetuates invisibility, discrimination, and inaccessibility for individuals outside of this age range, whether they are younger or older.


Ageism's impact extends across various aspects of life, including employment, healthcare, media representation, and social interactions. It marginalizes younger individuals by underestimating their capabilities and contributions, while simultaneously disregarding the wisdom and experience of older individuals. This systemic bias creates barriers to opportunities, representation, and participation for people of all ages.

Body Privilege
Body Privilege is when a specific type of body is privileged over other types of bodies. Generally, societies tend to privilege bodies that are seen as productive under capitalism as the standard and any deviation from this type of body becomes marginalized. This marginalization can happen through ableism, where bodies with different abilities are discriminated against, and through fatphobia, which stigmatizes larger bodies.

A disability is a diverse and multifaceted condition that encompasses a range of mental, physical, or emotional limitations, impacting an individual's ability to engage in specific activities such as walking, communicating, or learning. Disabilities vary widely in nature and severity, and they can present challenges across various aspects of daily life.

Examples of disabilities include brain injuries, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism Spectrum Disorder, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, Epilepsy, hearing impairment, mental illness or mental health conditions, and neurological disorders, among others. Each disability manifests uniquely in individuals, influencing their experiences, capabilities, and interactions with the world around them.


Fatphobia encompasses the prejudice and discrimination directed towards individuals based on their size or weight. This form of discrimination permeates both social interactions and institutional structures, often leading to disparities in access to healthcare and employment opportunities. Fatphobia perpetuates an unrealistic standard of a "desired body type," which stigmatizes those who deviate from this norm.

In essence, fatphobia operates on a continuum, where proximity to the perceived "ideal, skinny, fit" body type correlates with greater societal acceptance. Conversely, individuals whose bodies diverge further from this ideal are subject to increased levels of oppression and discrimination. 

Imposter Syndrome
Imposter Syndrome refers to the feeling of inadequacy in comparison to others. It involves experiencing a sense of fraudulence, self-doubt, and hesitancy in recognizing personal accomplishments. Studies suggest that these imposter feelings can have repercussions on self-esteem, professional motivation, the perception of control, emotional well-being, and interactions with others.
Intergenerational Trauma

Intergenerational trauma refers to the transmission of historical trauma, unresolved grief, and adverse experiences across generations within communities or families. It stems from significant and often systemic events such as colonization, slavery, forced displacement, genocide, and various forms of racism, which have inflicted profound psychological, social, and cultural wounds on entire populations.


For Black and Indigenous peoples, intergenerational trauma is deeply rooted in histories of oppression, exploitation, and dispossession. Black communities have endured the enduring legacy of slavery, segregation, racial violence, and systemic discrimination, which have left lasting scars on individuals, families, and communities.

Similarly, Indigenous peoples have faced centuries of colonization, land dispossession, cultural genocide, forced assimilation, and systemic marginalization, leading to profound intergenerational trauma within Indigenous communities.


The effects of intergenerational trauma manifest in various ways, including high rates of mental health issues, substance abuse, domestic violence, poverty, and other social challenges. Moreover, it impacts familial relationships, parenting practices, cultural identity, and overall well-being across generations.

Mental Health
Mental Health: Mental health encompasses our emotional, psychological, and social well-being, shaping how we perceive, experience, and interact with the world around us. It influences our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, guiding our responses to stress, our relationships with others, and our ability to make informed and healthy decisions. Mental health is a fundamental aspect of human experience, impacting individuals across all stages of life, from childhood and adolescence to adulthood. Recognizing and nurturing mental health is vital for fostering resilience, promoting well-being, and cultivating fulfilling lives. 
Neurodiversity refers to the diversity of human brains and neurological traits within the population. It acknowledges that individuals have different neurological makeups, cognitive processes, and ways of experiencing the world. The concept of neurodiversity challenges the notion that there is one "normal" or typical type of brain function and recognizes the value of embracing and accommodating diverse neurological perspectives and abilities. It promotes acceptance, inclusion, and support for individuals with conditions such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and other neurological differences, highlighting their strengths and contributions to society.
 People Without Disabilities
People Without Disabilities is a more inclusive term used to describe individuals who do not have physical or mental disabilities that significantly impair their ability to perform everyday tasks or activities. Avoid words like “normal,” “able,” “abled people,” or “able-bodied,” since these inappropriately suggest that those with disabilities are abnormal or do not have able bodies.
 People-First or Identify-First Language
When discussing individuals with disabilities, it's crucial to recognize their diverse identities and experiences rather than treating them as a homogenous group. Individuals with disabilities are multifaceted human beings with unique qualities and characteristics beyond their disabilities. To honor their individuality, it's recommended to use person-first language whenever possible.


Person-first language prioritizes the person over their disability, emphasizing their humanity and avoiding reduction to a single defining characteristic. For instance, instead of saying "an epileptic person," it's preferable to say "a person with epilepsy," or instead of "a blind person," it's more respectful to say "a person with blindness."


However, it's important to note that language preferences may vary among disability communities. Some individuals and communities prefer identity-first language, which places the disability identifier before the person. For example, many individuals in the deaf community prefer to be referred to as "deaf people," and many individuals with autism prefer the term "autistic person."

Terms Related to Faith and Spiritual Belief Systems 
Agnosticism is a philosophical stance that asserts the impossibility of knowing whether a divine or transcendent reality exists. Agnostics neither affirm nor deny the existence of a higher power or deity, preferring to suspend judgment and remain open to the possibility of spiritual truths beyond human comprehension. Agnosticism encourages critical inquiry, skepticism, and intellectual humility, inviting individuals to explore questions of meaning, existence, and ultimate reality with an open mind and heart.
Atheism is a philosophical or religious stance characterized by the absence of belief in the existence of gods or deities. Atheists reject theism and supernatural explanations for the origin and nature of the universe, instead relying on empirical evidence, reason, and critical inquiry to understand the natural world. Atheism encompasses a range of perspectives, from explicit disbelief in gods to a lack of belief due to insufficient evidence or skepticism about religious claims.
 Belief System
A belief system is a set of interconnected beliefs, values, principles, and assumptions that shape an individual's understanding of reality, morality, and the universe. It provides a framework for interpreting and making sense of the world, guiding behavior, and informing decision-making. Belief systems may be influenced by religious teachings, cultural traditions, philosophical insights, and personal experiences, shaping individuals' perceptions, attitudes, and actions.
Conversion is the process of adopting or embracing a new religious or spiritual belief system, often involving a profound change in one's worldview, values, and practices. Individuals may undergo conversion through personal revelation, spiritual experiences, religious instruction, or encounters with religious communities or teachings that resonate with their beliefs and aspirations. Conversion reflects a journey of transformation, self-discovery, and commitment to a new path of faith and understanding.
Faith is a deeply held belief or trust in something transcendent or sacred, often rooted in religious teachings, personal experiences, or philosophical convictions. It involves a profound sense of commitment, devotion, and loyalty to spiritual principles, practices, or traditions. Faith provides individuals with a sense of purpose, meaning, and direction in life, guiding their actions, choices, and relationships.
Interfaith refers to dialogue, collaboration, and cooperation between individuals or communities from different religious or spiritual traditions. It promotes understanding, respect, and appreciation for diverse perspectives, fostering relationships based on shared values and common humanity. Interfaith initiatives encourage meaningful engagement, bridge-building, and mutual learning across religious and cultural boundaries, promoting peace, justice, and reconciliation in diverse societies.
Monotheism is a belief system that asserts the existence of a single, supreme deity or divine being. Followers of monotheistic religions, such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, worship and adhere to the teachings of one God. Monotheism emphasizes the unity, omnipotence, and sovereignty of the divine, and it often involves devotion, prayer, and adherence to religious laws and commandments centered around the worship of one God.
Polytheism is a belief system that recognizes and worships multiple gods or deities. In polytheistic traditions, such as Hinduism, Shintoism, ancient Greek religion, and Wicca, worshippers honor and venerate various gods and goddesses, each associated with specific domains, powers, and attributes. Polytheism celebrates diversity and plurality within the divine realm, acknowledging the multifaceted nature of existence and the interconnectedness of different aspects of life.
Religion is a structured system of beliefs, rituals, symbols, and practices that guide individuals or communities in their understanding of the sacred or divine. It often involves organized institutions, doctrines, scriptures, moral codes, and rituals that shape individuals' worldviews and provide frameworks for ethical living and spiritual growth. Religion serves as a source of community, identity, and moral guidance, fostering rituals and traditions that mark significant life events and passages.
Rituals are symbolic actions, ceremonies, or practices performed within religious or spiritual contexts to express devotion, reverence, or connection to the sacred. They often involve prescribed gestures, prayers, chants, offerings, and rites of passage that mark significant moments in individuals' lives or in the life of a community. Rituals provide a tangible expression of faith, fostering a sense of continuity, belonging, and transcendence among believers.
Spirituality refers to the inner journey of seeking meaning, purpose, and connection to something greater than oneself. It encompasses beliefs, values, experiences, and practices that nurture the human spirit and foster a sense of interconnectedness with the universe, nature, or a higher power. Spirituality encompasses many expressions, including prayer, meditation, contemplation, mindfulness, and acts of compassion and service.
Other "Isms"
Capitalism is an economic system characterized by private ownership of capital and the pursuit of profit as the primary driver of economic activity. In capitalist societies, the means of production, distribution, and exchange are predominantly owned and controlled by private individuals and corporations. This ownership structure creates distinct social classes based on one's relationship to capital, leading to unequal access to resources, opportunities, and social privileges.


Critics argue that capitalism can exacerbate income inequality, exploit labor, and degrade the environment. They contend that the pursuit of profit may prioritize short-term gains over long-term sustainability and social well-being. Additionally, capitalism is criticized for perpetuating systemic injustices and disparities, particularly for marginalized communities and vulnerable populations. Despite these criticisms, capitalism remains the dominant economic system globally, shaping markets, trade relations, and socioeconomic structures.

Classism refers to prejudice, discrimination, or systemic oppression based on social class or economic status. In capitalist societies, classism often manifests as unequal access to resources, opportunities, and social privileges based on one's position within the socioeconomic hierarchy. Those in positions of wealth and power may enjoy advantages and opportunities that are denied to those in lower socioeconomic classes, leading to social stratification and inequality.
Multiculturalism projects an ideal vision of society where diverse cultural identities coexist harmoniously within a unified national framework. It’s aim is to represent an acknowledgment of the rich tapestry of human experience and a commitment to fostering inclusion and acceptance across racial, ethnic, and religious lines.


However, beneath the surface of multiculturalism lies a complex interplay of power dynamics, historical injustices, and structural inequalities. Multiculturalism, in some instances, operates within the framework of settler-colonialism, a system built upon the dispossession and marginalization of Indigenous peoples and fails to address the systemic injustices faced by Indigenous communities, perpetuating the erasure of Indigenous knowledge, sovereignty, and land rights.


Moreover, despite its purported ideals of inclusivity and equality, multiculturalism can inadvertently uphold racism by reinforcing hierarchies of power and privilege. In many multicultural societies, racially marginalized communities continue to face systemic barriers to opportunities in education, employment, and social mobility. Multicultural policies, while intended to promote diversity, may inadvertently tokenize cultural identities, essentialize racial differences, and perpetuate stereotypes, further entrenching racial inequalities and exacerbating social divisions.