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You will find below two glossaries complete with their sources:
1) Regional Diversity Roundtable (Peel, ON, Canada)
2) Ontario Child Welfare Anti-Oppression Roundtable

We are indebted to both these organizations for their leadership, passion and sharing the helpful resources they have respectively compiled.

This glossary is provided to bring some clarity and common understanding to some of the terminologies used in the diversity/equity/anti-oppression field which you may encounter as you continue on the path of learning. Language is constantly evolving and also limiting, as such this glossary is meant to be a reference point. We would like to encourage you to engage with these terms, exploring the nuances they present, explore other sources to further enhance your understanding and add to the list as these meanings evolve.

This glossary is has been compiled from a variety of sources including:
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Diversity Manual. (2007)
Brown, Maureen. (2008). Diversity in Action Training Workbook, Regional Diversity Roundtable.
Lopes, Tina & Thomas, Barb. (2006). Dancing on Live Embers: Challenging Racism in Organizations.

Regional Diversity Roundtable

Prepared by Sume Ndumbe-Eyoh, Coordinator
May 2009

The glossary is a work in progress. Visit our website at http://www.regionaldiversityroundtable.org/?q=glossary for regular updates.

*Ableism (or Ablism)
Discrimination based on a person’s ability, coupled with a belief in the inherent superiority of those who do not have a permanent disability.

Work towards the elimination of discrimination based on disability
Access: the right, permission, liberty or ability to enter, approach, communicate with or pass to or from; freedom or ability to obtain, to make use of; the action of going to or reaching; and increase by addition. (American Heritage Dictionary 1995 & Webster’s Third International Dictionary 1995)

An Ally is someone who recognizes the unearned privilege they receive by being a member of a dominant group, and takes responsibility to bring change to such injustice. Allies include men who work to end sexism, white people who work to end racism, heterosexual people who work to end heterosexism, able-bodied people who work to end ableism, and so on.(Becoming an Ally http://www.becominganally.ca/index.htm)

Discrimination against Jews (Semitic peoples are descendants from Shem, son of Noah and include Jews and Arabs.) Anti-Semitism is used only in reference to Jews.

Bias An inclination or preference either for or against an individual or group that interferes with impartial judgment.

A person whose sexual orientation is directed towards men and women (Asking the Right Questions, CAMH, 2002)

(A word that does not exist but it is a term that is occasionally used) Discrimination against those who are not Christians, coupled with the belief of inherent superiority of those who are Christians.

Discrimination based on a person’s social class (e.g. education, income, occupation).

Refers to a learned system of shared meanings, values, beliefs and norms and is expressed in interpersonal interactions, customs, rituals, symbols, art and artifacts and social systems. While most people perceive culture in terms of ethnicity, culture is a concept that is applicable to any social group with commonalities; e.g. street youth, gays and lesbians, residents of Peel, etc.

Is a socialization process in which groups of individuals come in continuous and direct contact with each other, resulting in changes in the cultural patterns of either or both groups. In principle, acculturation is a neutral term, but in practice, changes tend to occur less in the dominant culture (Berry, 1997). Through acculturation, immigrants or Canadians of a specific ethnicity or cultural heritage may establish a culture that is quite distinct from that of their country of origin and the dominant culture.

Assimilation-from the Latin, assimilare, to make similar-is the process whereby certain groups in are encouraged or forced to give up their cultural way of life and accommodate as quickly as possible to values and culture of another group. It is an ethnocentric, one way process of cultural exchange, in that only one group
is expected to adapt, with the implied promise that group acceptance will be the social reward.

A term used by trans people to refer to non-trans people. The term was coined in the 1990s as a way of de-centering (at least linguistically) “non-trans” as the normative way of being and as a resistance “trans” as abnormal.

Cultural identity
Refers to the culture with which individuals choose to identify and live accordingly. A person can have many cultural identities that may change with the context or situation, and or environment they are in (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2001). For example, the cultural identity and expression of a young Asian Canadian lesbian may differ at a family Lunar New Year Celebration, at a Lesbian/Gay Pride Parade or at an Eco-tour in South America.

Cultural Competence
Is the ability to work effectively in situations involving people with different cultural backgrounds. Our ability to address the needs of different groups of people in accordance with the values, customs, beliefs, & languages of those groups. The ability to put knowledge and skill on culture into action.

Cultural diversity
Is the unique characteristics that all of us possess that distinguishes us as individuals and identify us as belonging to a group or groups. Diversity transcends concepts of race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, gender, religion, sexual orientation, disability and age. Diversity offers strength and richness to the whole. (Hasting Institute as cited in BC Ministry for Children and Family, 2000a).

Cultural diversity is fluid and dynamic. Each one of us may possess different sets of these characteristics throughout our life span and the meaning or significance of these characteristics is dependent on the historical, social, cultural, economic and political contexts we live in.

**Cultural resources
Refer to resources – tangible and intangible (print, audio, visual and human) that can be used to support a group of people that are living in a distinctive way.
*Discrimination: The unequal treatment of groups or individuals with a history of marginalization either by a person or a group or an institution which, through the denial of certain rights, results in inequality, subordination and/or deprivation of political, education, social, economic, and cultural rights.

Means a variety. It is used commonly and inaccurately, as a synonym for people of colour. It should not be used to refer to communities of People of Color alone.

Dominant Culture
Group that shapes and controls through social and economic, cultural, political and religious power. Usually refers to White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPs) but other groups can also be part of the dominant culture through power gained from e.g. facility with English, education, length of time in Canada etc.

*Employment Equity
Employment Equity is a process designed to result in:
Fair representation of historically disadvantaged groups throughout all
levels of an organization
Elimination of discriminatory barriers to employment
Remedying the effects of past discrimination through positive measures
There are four designated groups under the Employment Equity Act, Aboriginal people, women, visible minorities and people living with disabilities.

“The state, quality, or ideal of being just, impartial or fair” and “justice applied in circumstances covered by the law yet influenced by principles of fairness and justice” (American Heritage Dictionary, 1995).

Inequity vs. Inequality
Equity addresses the distribution of opportunities and resources within a community or society (City of Toronto Teaching Health Unit, 1992). It is concerned with conditions that are beyond individual’s control and create unfair differentials in social and economic conditions. (Wallerstein & Freudenberg, 1998)

If you live longer than I do or if you suffer from less sickness and disability, our health status is unequal. There is inequality between us, but not necessarily inequity. The difference may not result from our living conditions that may be essentially the same, but from accidents, genetics or lifestyle choices.

If, however, the differences in our health status result from different living conditions, mine being less satisfactory than yours, a question of inequity arises. I may have less access to nutritious food, difficulty in finding decent housing or high-quality health care sensitive to my particular health needs. My income may be lower, my work stressful and demoralizing, punctuated by frequent periods of prolonged unemployment. In this case, inequalities in health status are the result of inequities in life. (Draper as cited in Wallerstein & Freudenberg, 1998)

Refers to a sense of identity based on common socio-history, language and geographical, religious, racial and cultural heritage. Although everyone belongs to at least one ethnic group, the term “ethnic” in the dominant discourse usually refers to people of the non-dominant groups. In Canada, government documents and policies state that “ethnic” refers to the collectivities of every group including French, English and the Aboriginal peoples, but in practice, it usually refers to all the other Canadian communities outside of the above three groups.

Belief in the superiority of one’s race and culture. Webster’s Third New International Dictionary defines ethnocentrism “as a habitual disposition to judge foreign people or groups by the standards and practices of one’s culture or ethnic group” as well as “a tendency toward viewing alien cultures with disfavour and a resulting sense of inherent superiority.”
Ethnoracial: Pertaining to ethnicity and race. The term is often used as a synonym for “People of Colour”or racialized people. This is not a correct usage of the term; see ethnicity.

The feeling and experience of being disempowered, degraded or disenfranchised through intentional or systemic discrimination.

Is a boy/man whose primary sexual orientation is to other men (Asking the Right Questions, CAMH, 2002)

Gender Identity
Which does not always correspond to biological sex, is a person’s self image or belief about being male or female (Asking the Right Questions, CAMH, 2002)

Gender Roles
Are society’s arbitrary rules to define clothing, behaviour, thoughts, feelings, relationships etc., considered appropriate for members of each sex (Asking the Right Questions, CAMH, 2002)

A resource for everyday life, not the objective of living. Health is a positive concept emphasizing social and personal resources, as well as physical capacities. (WHO, 1986)

Health can also be defined as the ability of all people within the community to reach full mental, spiritual and physical potential by living in safety with vigor and purpose; meeting personal needs; meeting community responsibilities; adapting to change; and having trusting and caring relationships." (Mayor's Task Force on Lincoln General Sales Proceeds, 1998)

Heterosexual Privilege
The unrecognized and assumed privileges that people have if they are heterosexual. Examples of heterosexual privilege include: holding hands or kissing in public without fearing threat, not questioning the normalcy of your sexual orientation, raising children without fears of state intervention, not being asked when you knew you were straight or worries that your children will experience discrimination because of your heterosexuality. (adapted from Asking the Right Questions, CAMH, 2002)

Is the assumption that all people are or should be heterosexual, and that identifying as the heterosexual and having sexual or romantic attractions only to members of the opposite sex is good and acceptable. If these assumptions are made unconsciously, they are called default assumptions. An example is to ask a woman if she has a husband which reinforces the invisibility that lesbians, gay and bisexual people experience. Like other forms of discrimination, Heterosexism, Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, are often invisible and unnoticed to those who are not their targets (Asking the Right Questions, CAMH, 2002)

Irrational fear, hatred, prejudice or negative attitudes toward homosexuality and people who are gay, or lesbian. Homophobia can take overt and covert, as well as subtle and extreme forms. Homophobia includes behaviours such as jokes, name-calling, exclusion, gay bashing, etc. (Asking the Right Questions, CAMH, 2002)

A term to describe a person whose primary sexual orientation is to members of the same gender. Most people prefer to not use this label, preferring to use other terms, such as gay, lesbian etc. (Asking the Right Questions, CAMH, 2002)

Individuals who choose to leave their countries of origin to settle in other countries for personal, social or economic reasons.

Creating an environment in which people have both the feeling and reality of belonging and (thus) able to work to their full potential. (Ontario Inclusion Learning Network)


Is an integrated approach which starts from the premise that people live multiple, layered identities derived from social relations, history and the operation of structures of power. People are members of more than one community at the same time, and can simultaneously experience oppression and privilege (e.g. a woman may be a respected medical professional yet suffer domestic violence in her home) (Association of Women in Development, 2004). Intersectionality has its roots in Black feminist theory.

Is the term that has recently replaced “hermaphrodite.” Intersexed people posess some blend of male and female physical sex characteristics (Asking the Right Questions, CAMH, 2002)

Language barriers
Refers to the difficulties experienced by a person in information processing due to the lack of proficiency or functional level of a specific language. Language barriers differ from low literacy in that a person who is fluent in a language other than English and French experiences language barriers (both oral and text) in Canadian society.

Is a girl/woman whose sexual orientation is directed towards women (Asking the Right Questions, CAMH, 2002)

Lesbian Gay Bisexual Two-Spirited Transgendered Transexual Intersexed Questioning Queer.

The information processing skills necessary to use the printed materials commonly encountered at work, at home, and in the community. (Statistics Canada as cited in Toronto District Health Council, 1999)

The social process of becoming or being made marginal (especially as a group within the larger society); "the marginalization of the underclass"; "the marginalization of literature” (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/marginalisation)

According to the Government of Canada, “Canadian multiculturalism is fundamental to our belief that all citizens are equal. Multiculturalism ensures that all citizens can keep their identities, can take pride in their ancestry and have a sense of belonging. Acceptance gives Canadians a feeling of security and self-confidence, making them more open to, and accepting of, diverse cultures.”

Accepted, accustomed, taken for granted ways of thinking, doing and being

The unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power. Often refers specifically to abuse of power with a systemic and historical expression.


Is concerned with eradicating social injustice perpetuated by societal inequalities, particularly along the lines of race, gender, sexual orientation and identity, age, class, ability and religion.

People of Colour

A race with skin pigmentation different from the white race (especially Blacks)
(WordNet Dictionary http://www.hyperdictionary.com/search.aspx?define=people+of+color )

Power-over is the dominant form in our society. Often associated with violence or the threat of violence, power-over is the ability to force others to submit to your will, regardless of their wishes.

Power-from-within refers to the inner strength associated with courage, conviction, creativity and self-discipline. For some, power-within carries strong spiritual connotations.

Power-with is the result when we co-operate with others to achieve shared ends. It comes from our ability to listen to, empathise with and understand others, and to identify shared beliefs or interests.
Power-with is both the key to multiplying our individual strength, and the ultimate goal of reshaping society along fair and just lines.

A frame of mind that tends to pre-judge a person or group in a negative light. This negative judgment is usually made without adequate evidence. These negative attitudes are often not recognized as unsoundly based assumptions because of the frequency with which they are repeated. They become “common sense” notions that are widely accepted, and are used to justify acts of discrimination (http://www.recomnetwork.org/faq.shtml.)

Unearned power that gives certain groups economic, social and political advantages in society.


Traditionally, a derogatory and offensive term for LGBTQ people. Many LGBTQ people have reclaimed this word and use it proudly to describe their identity. Some transsexual and transgendered people identity as queers, others do not. (Asking the Right Questions, CAMH, 2002)

A socially constructed concept used to divide humans into categories according to a set of common visible traits (skin colour, shapes of eyes, nose or face). This biological category was developed based on 18th and 19th century Eurocentric ideology of superiority and was used to exert European dominance through slavery, colonialism and imperialism. Recent scientific evidence in genetic analysis shows that there is greater genetic variation within a racial group than across racial groups, thus refuting race as a biological category (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2001; American Academy of Pediatrics, 2000; McDade, 2001). While race does not produce racism, racism continues to reinforce the concept of race.

Use of race as a social convenience, depending on society’s whim at the time. Use of race as a primary explanation for an individual’s behavior.

The use of individual and institutional power to deny or grant people and groups of people rights, respect, representation and resources based on their skin color. Racism in action makes Whiteness a preferred way of being human.

Working towards the elimination of discrimination based on race. Working to eliminate racism and racialization.

To differentiate or categorize according to race or to impose a racial character or context on (WordNet Dictionary; http://www.hyperdictionary.com/)

Individual racism
is commonly referred to as individual expressions of negative attitudes or behaviors such as racial slurs, harassment, racial graffiti or aggressive acts. Most people recognize this form of racism but perceive it to be overt racial hatred acted out by bigoted social deviants. It is important for us to recognize that individual racism is deeply rooted in the individual’s system of beliefs, values and his/her ideology of racial superiority. (Henry & Tator, 2000)

Systemic racism
Is implicit and mostly invisible; it is embedded in the policies and practices of institutions and organizations. Systemic racism operates directly or indirectly to sustain the power structure and advantages enjoyed by the dominant groups. It results in the unequal distribution of economic, social and political resources and reward among different “racial” groups. It also denies People of Colour access to fully participate in society and creates barriers to education, employment, housing, and other services available to the dominant group (ibid.).

Cultural racism
is a system of values and ideologies that are based on racial differences, cultural superiority and inferiority. These values are produced, maintained and reproduced through powerful institutions like the media and popular culture such that the dominant ideologies become the “taken-for-grant” and norm for society. This form of racism is entrenched in society and it supports, allows and perpetuates individual and systemic racism.

People who flee their country because of a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group. A refugee either cannot return home, or is afraid to do so. (UNHCR)

Reverse discrimination
A term often used to put down efforts to create equity in service and employment for marginalized people, through positive action. It is a misnomer to term such equity efforts as ‘reversing’ discrimination because increasing access for marginalized groups does not produce systemic inequality for privileged groups. It does not ‘reverse’ broad social and historical power imbalances.

Social justice
A basic value and desired goal in democratic societies and includes equitable and fair access to societal institutions, laws, resources, opportunities, without arbitrary limitations based on observed, or interpretations of, differences in age, color, culture, physical or mental disability, education, gender, income, language, national origin, race, religion, or sexual orientation. (Dr. King Davis as cited in Martel & Rice, 1996)

A socially just society
Values human dignity, celebrates diversity, pursues a common purpose, embraces individual and collective rights and responsibilities, narrows the gaps between the advantaged and disadvantaged, provides equitable access to resources for health and well-being, eliminates systemic discrimination and accommodate different needs. (The Premier's Council of Ontario, 1995)

Social Location
An individual's social locations consists of her ascribed social identities (gender, race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, caste, kinship status, etc.) and social roles and relationships (occupation, political party membership, etc.). Partly in virtue of their different ascribed identities, individuals occupy different social roles that accord them different powers, duties, and role-given goals and interests. (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/feminism-epistemology/)

Social Relations
Social relations can refer to a multitude of social interactions, regulated by social norms, between two or more people, with each having a social position and performing a social role. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_relationship)

A term often used to describe people who are heterosexual. (Barbara M. Angela, Gloria Chaim, Doctor Farzana, Asking the Right Questions, CAMH, 2002)

Can be defined as an unvarying form or pattern; a fixed or conventional notion or conception, as of a person, group, idea, etc., held by a number of people, and allowing for no individuality, critical judgment… (Webster’s New World Dictionary). Stereotyping may happen as a result of our socialization or when the real environment becomes too complex for individuals to deal with, they reconstruct it into a simpler model in order to cope. Because stereotypes are built on specific attributions, individuals tend to pick out a sample that supports their prejudice and generalize it to be representative to the entire group. Stereotypes also help to justify the hostility of some individuals towards their vulnerable targets.

Prejudice or discrimination directed at women based on sex.

Sexual Orientation
Is how someone thinks of oneself in terms of one’s emotional, romantic or sexual attraction or affection for another person. (Asking the Right Questions, CAMH, 2002)

Sexual Minorities

Include people who identify as LGBTTTQQI (Asking the Right Questions, CAMH, 2002)


A person or someone who does not conform to society’s gender norms of masculine/feminine (Asking the Right Questions, CAMH, 2002)


A person who has an intense lifelong conviction of being the opposite sex to his or her birth-assigned sex. Specifically, a female-to male transsexual is assigned a female sex at birth, but feels like a male and identifies as a (transsexual) boy/man. A male-to-female transsexual is assigned a male sex at birth, but feels like a female and has the identity of a (transsexual) girl/woman. (Asking the Right Questions, CAMH, 2002)

An English term coined to reflect specific cultural words used by First Nation and other indigenous peoples for those in their cultures who are gay or lesbian, transgendered or transsexual, or have multiple gender identities. The term reflects an effort by First Nation and other indigenous communities to distinguish their concepts of gender and sexuality from those of Western LGBTTQQI communities. (Asking the Right Questions, CAMH, 2002)

Whiteness and White privilege
White privilege has been usefully described by Peg Mackintosh as “the invisible knapsack of unearned assets which White people can count on cashing in each day, but about which they are meant to remain oblivious.” These are benefits White people receive in a racist society at the expense of racialized people. (Lopes & Thomas, 2006)

“By whiteness I am referring to the civilization, language, culture and the skin color associated most often with European-ness. Racism is reflected in a hierarchy in which beauty, intelligence, worth and things associated with Whiteness are at the top.” (Lee, 1998).

References for Glossaryline

1. American Academy of Pediatrics. (2000). Race/ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status -- research exploring their effects on children's health: a subject review (RE9848). Pediatrics, 105(6), 1349-1351

2. American Heritage Dictionary (1995)

3. Association of Women in Development. ( 2004). Intersectionality: A Tool for Gender and Economic Justice. Women’s Rights and Economic Change, 9

4. Bishop, Ann. Becoming an Ally http://www.becominganally.ca/index.htm Retrieved November 21 2008.

5. Barbara M. Angela, Gloria Chaim, Doctor Farzana, Asking the Right Questions, Centre for Addition and Mental Health, 2002

6. Berry, J. W. (1997). Immigrant, acculturation, and adaptation. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 46(1), 5-68.

7. Brandt R. Joseph, Dismantling Racism: The Continuing Challenge to White America, 1991

8. Goldenberg I. Ira, Oppression and Social Intervention: The Human Condition and the Problem of Change, Nelson-Hall, Incorporated, 1978

9. Henry, F., & Tator, C. (2000). Racist discourse in Canada's English print media. Toronto: Canadian Race Relations Foundation.

10. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/marginalisation

11. Josephine P. H. Wong, Bismilla, Salena. Kwong Wendy, Burcher Betty, Access and Equity: A case Study on Toronto Publish Health’s Current Practice and Organizational Needs, Toronto Public Health, 2001

12. Kinnon, D. (1999). Canadian research on immigration and health (Available online: http://www.hc-sc.g.ca/iacb-dgiac/nhrodp/metropolis/ ISBN 0-662-28269-8). Ottawa: Health Canada, the Metropolis project

13. Martel, T., & Rice, J. (1996). What is social justice? Perspectives on Multiculturalism and Cultural Diversity, VI(2), Available online: http:// www.vcu.edu/safweb/counsel/MC/justice.html.

14. Mayor's Task Force on Lincoln General Sales Proceeds. (1998). Creating the healthiest community in the nation. Recommendations from Mayor's Task Force on Lincoln General Sales Proceeds. Lincoln, Nebraska.

15. McDade, W. A. (2001). The despair of health disparities. Virtual Mentor: Promoting the Ethics and Professionalism of Tomorrow's Physicians, 3(6), Available online: http://www.virtualmentor.org/ama/pub/category/5155.html…..

16. Online resource: http://www.recomnetwork.org/faq.shtml

17. The Premier's Council. (1995). Pursuing Equity - Phase One: Report of the Equity and Access Committee: The Premier's Council on Health, Well-being and Social Justice

18. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2001). Mental health: culture, race and ethnicity -- A supplement to Mental Health: A report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services

19. UNHRC. (2001a). Number of refugees, displaced rising as aid declines. UNHCR News (04 October 2001), Available online: http://www.unhcr.ch/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/home?page=search

20. Wallerstein, N. (1992). Powerlessness, empowerment, and health: Implications for health promotion programs. American Journal of Health Promotion, 6(3), 197-205.

21. Wallerstein, N., & Freudenberg, N. (1998). Linking health promotion and social justice: a rationale and two case stories. Health Education Research: Theory and Practice, 13(3), 451-457

22. Webster’s Third International Dictionary 1995

23. WordNet Dictionary; http://www.hyperdictionary.com/search.aspx?define=people+of+color)

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Ontario Child Welfare
Anti-Oppression Roundtable
Glossary of Termsline

Anti-oppression refers to engaging in work that critically examines how social structures and social institutions work to create and perpetuate the oppression and marginalization of those who have been identified as not belonging to the dominant group. By identifying these various forms of oppression, it is also crucial to recognize the power and privilege that manifests itself as a result of the oppression of others. A commitment to anti-oppression requires that we act by working towards achieving greater social justice and equality. Anti-oppression can also be understood as a framework that guides our day-to-day practice, our interactions with others, and how we give meaning to our life experiences.

Anti-racism refers to engaging in work that challenges our social structures and social institutions with the goal being to bring about systemic change with respect to racism and racial oppression. This work is intended to empower racialized individuals while also encouraging White people to become aware of and begin challenging the power and privileges afforded to them so that they may develop into Allies.

Becoming an Ally
Becoming an Ally is the process or transformation that a member of the dominant group engages in by acting against oppression and privilege at both the personal and structural levels. Becoming an Ally is inspired by the belief that eliminating oppression will benefit those who are the targets of oppression and create a more equal and equitable society.

Classism refers to the practice by the dominant group of assigning value to people based upon their perceived social class. Those who are perceived to be at a lower social class are marginalized and disadvantaged by the dominant group through the exploitation of labour and resources.

Collaborative Relationship
A collaborative relationship refers to a relationship between two or more people that is concerned with, and consciously aware of, the power dynamics between its members. Members collectively work together to create relationships based upon equality and social equity.

Occurs when a foreign country or power uses domination, violence and exploitation to take land and resources from an indigenous group of people. In doing so, the foreign power will often exploit any available human labour from the indigenous group. Colonialism draws upon racial and discriminatory ideologies to justify the oppression and marginalization of others.

Critical Deconstruction
Critical deconstruction involves thinking, reflecting and critically understanding how our knowledge, values, and experiences are constructed and shaped by social discourses and the dominant culture. Once we understand the impact this has we can begin to critically reconstruct the knowledge, values, and experiences we hold by challenging legitimacy of these social discourses and of the dominant culture.

Culture is the collective experiences, knowledge, traditions, values, and beliefs that a group of individuals share. Culture can be understood as being fluid and ever-evolving, changing as the people and the environment change. Culture can be shaped and evolved in many ways, including by language, religion, ethnicity, geography, gender, sexual orientation, family, politics, etc.

A discourse is the creation or production of knowledge and its meaning through language and social practices.

Discrimination refers to how members who are not considered part of the dominant group are the recipients of unequal treatment and differential allocation of society’s resources. Anti-oppression practice is concerned with how our social structures and social institutions work to disadvantage various groups of individuals based upon some shared characteristic that the group holds.

From an anti-oppressive perspective, diversity refers to how difference should be both embraced and celebrated. From this perspective diversity concerns itself with empowering those who hold personal characteristics that do not fit within that of the dominant group. Thus diversity can be understood as a continuous life-long process, rather than the more traditional definition which identifies diversity as a static state.

Dominant Group
The dominant group refers to a group of individuals who share certain characteristics that as a result of these characteristics are afforded specific forms of power and privileges, which are at the expense of the oppression of other groups of individuals. Characteristics of the dominant group include being White, male, middle to upper class, heterosexual, able-bodied, 18 to 65 years of age, Christian, English-speaking, university educated, and living within an urban community.

Equity is an individual’s or group’s right to an equitable share of society’s resources and input into the practices of our social structures and social institutions.

Harassment is the process by which power is exercised with the intended purpose of intimidating and threatening a person through persistent negative attitudes and behaviours.

Hegemony refers to the social, cultural, and religious traditions and knowledge that are constructed by the dominant group which work to help maintain the status quo.

Heterosexism refers to the practices carried out through social structures and social institutions that propose heterosexual individuals are inherently superior to individuals who do not identify as being heterosexual. Hidden within this practice is the assumption conveyed by the dominant group that everyone is heterosexual.

Internalized Oppression
Internalized oppression occurs when an individual or group of individuals accepts their social position as one that is deserved, natural, and inevitable. Individuals accept that they are in some way inferior when compared to those who are part of the dominant group.

The notion of intersectionality suggests that various forms of oppression intersect with each other to form new forms of oppression rather than various forms of oppression compounding each other. Each form of oppression is considered unique and none are perceived to be worse than another.

From an anti-oppressive perspective knowledge is believed to be an ever-evolving process that takes on new meaning when it is passed on from one person to the next. There is no absolute truth attached to knowledge, rather it is unique to each person.

Marginalization occurs when social structures and social institutions are used to disadvantage those who are not perceived as part of the dominant group. These individuals are often denied equitable access to resources and become vulnerable to further exploitation and social exclusion.

From an anti-oppressive perspective multiculturalism refers a society or environment consisting of various cultures that receive equal access to resources and that do not experience oppression from one another. Within such an environment various groups of people and the culture to which they identify with are embraced and celebrated rather than merely tolerated.

Oppression occurs when one socially defined group exerts power and dominance over another group so that it benefits the former and oppresses the latter. Social structures and social institutions are often the tools used to carry out this power and dominance of one group over another. Repeated acts of oppression can eventually become institutionalized or systemic, thus becoming hidden and seemingly ‘normal’.

People of Colour
An attempt made by racialized individuals to name or identify themselves as people with a positive identity rather than accepting an oppressive label given by the dominant group.

Power is the unearned and often hidden ability for individuals from the dominant group exert their influence over other individuals as a result of their social position. Power is often afforded to individuals through social structures and social institutions, which is also how power is often exercised and perpetuated as well.

Prejudices, which draw upon unfounded stereotypes, are attitudes held by the dominant and used to substantiate the inferiority or subordination of other individuals. They eventually become systemic and are perceived as normal and universally applicable to all those who fit within the defined group.

The term privilege refers to the unearned power and advantages that members of the dominant group receive as a direct result of the oppression and marginalization experienced by individuals who are not considered members of the dominant group.

Race is a social category created for the purpose of classifying individuals based upon physical features such as skin colour. The dominant group, with help from social structures and social institutions, uses race to identify and socially organize groups of individuals in a manner that oppresses any group of individuals who are not perceived to be White.

Racial Equality
It is the process of challenging our social structures and social institutions as well as the white privilege that works to create and perpetuate racial inequalities. Racial equality refers to not only more equitable distribution of resources but also of equitable distribution of power and influence.

Racial Profiling

It is the process of administration-of-justice officials identifying specific individuals as potential threatening, dangerous or criminal based solely on their race, ethnicity, nationality or religious affiliation. Racial profiling is often fueled by stereotypical and discriminatory views created by the dominant group.

Racialization is the process through which individuals are socialized to various groups of people on the basis of their physical characteristics. It is these physical characteristics that the dominant group uses to differentiate groups of individuals from themselves, while at the same time making their own physical characteristics invisible and normal.

The process of attributing value and normalcy to White people and to Whiteness, while at the same time devaluing and oppressing individuals and groups of individuals who are not White.

Reflexive Practice
Reflexive practice requires the worker to use critical thinking and reflection with respect to issues, knowledge and discourses that are often taken for granted. This form of practice also requires the worker to critically deconstruct and then reconstruct any feelings, perceptions, experiences that present themselves.

Religious Discrimination
Religious discrimination is the individual and systemic practices that marginalize and discriminate individuals as a result their religious beliefs. The dominant group is defined within Canada as those individuals who practice Christianity.

Sexism refers to both the individual and systemic practices found within our society that privilege and gives power to men while also working to disadvantage and oppress women. These practices are based upon notions of patriarchy and the absurd perception that men are superior to women.

Social Construction
A social construction is the creation of a social category that creates and works to perpetuate social, political, and economical inequalities to those groups of people not considered part of the dominant group.

Social Exclusion
Social exclusion occurs when an individual or group of people are marginalized, disempowered, disenfranchised, or denied equitable participation and access to resources by the dominant group based upon oppressive and discriminatory policies and practices carried out at a systemic level.

Social Location
How one is treated in society based on their position/location that includes the power and privilege associated with one’s economic status, race, education, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, marital status, religion, national origin, legal status.

Social Structures and Social Institutions
These terms refer to the various systems and bodies of government that hold a certain amount of power and use these powers to exert their undue influence upon society’s members. These social structures and institutions have been formed from, and are perpetuated from the perspective of the dominant group. The result is that these structures and institutions work to give power and privilege to members of the dominant group while also working to oppress and marginalize those not perceived as part of the dominant group. These systems include the education system, the legal system, government bodies, the media, etc.

Systemic Discrimination
Systemic discrimination is the unequal treatment of individuals and groups of people as a result of system-wide policies, procedures and practices created by our social structures and social institutions.

Systemic Racism
Systemic racism refers to the social structures and social institutions that create, tolerate, reproduce, and perpetuate the racial inequalities and racism that has oppressed and marginalized those not part of the dominant group.

White Privilege
White privilege refers to the many unearned assets or advantages that White people receive everyday as a result of the systemic oppression and marginalization experienced by individuals who have been defined as not belonging to the dominant group. These privileges that White individuals receive remain hidden or invisible so that it appears normal and continues on without being challenged.

Workplace Diversity
Workplace diversity is a lifelong and ever-evolving process that requires a commitment by the entire agency or organization to engage in work that creates a socially equitable and inclusive working environment free from all forms of oppression and discrimination. Internal and external working relationships should align themselves with aforementioned term collaborative relationships.

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Glossary of Terms draws upon the works of:

• Galabuzi, G.E. (2006). Canada’s Economic Apartheid: The Social Exclusion of Racialized Groups in the New Century. Toronto, ON: Canadian Scholars’ Press Inc.
• Henry, F. & Tator, C. (2006). The Colour of Democracy: Racism in Canadian Society (3rd Edition). Toronto, ON: Thomson Canada Limited.
• Lopes, T. & Thomas, B. (2006). Dancing on Live Embers: Challenging Racism in Organizations. Toronto, ON: Between the Lines.
• The Children’s Aid Society of Toronto (2005). “Anti-Oppression/Anti-Racism Policy”



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