Glossary

Aboriginal – When using the term Aboriginal, we are referring to three groups of peoples in what is now called Canada: First Nations, Inuit, and Métis.

Class – or Social Class – Refers to the hierarchical distinctions (or stratification) between individuals or groups in societies or cultures. Usually individuals are grouped into classes based on their economic positions and similar political and economic interests within the stratification system. In societies where class exists, one’s class is determined largely by:

Collaboration – To work together in co-operation with others towards a common goal (either as an individual or as a group).

Colonialism – A process by which a foreign power dominates and exploits an indigenous group  or country by appropriating its land, extracting its wealth, and using the group for cheap labour. Colonialism originally referred to a specific era of European expansion into overseas territories between  the 16th and 21st centuries during which European states established settlements in distant territories and achieved economic, military, political, and cultural hegemony in much of Asia, Africa, and the Americas. In Canada we still live with ongoing practices, impacts and repercussions of colonialism.

Community – A group of people who form relationships over time by interacting regularly around shared experiences that are of interest to all of them.

Community Action – When an individual or group who collectively organizes and works together towards a common goal of positive social change within a community.

Culture – The aspects of individual and group identities that can include language; race; religion; traditions, ethnicity; experience of migration/immigration; social class structure; social norms; behavioural patterns; political affiliations; family influences; attitudes to different age groups; attitudes toward sexual orientation; experience or absence of experience with discrimination; experience of fighting discrimination and other injustices; and the loss of cultural traits. An ethnocultural group is a group whose members share a belief that they have a common heritage, culture, racial background, and/or traditions.

Discrimination – Unfavourable treatment (and/or denial of equal treatment) – whether intentional or not – of individuals or groups because of their race, gender, religion, ethnicity, disability, socio–economic status, ancestry, place of origin, colour, citizenship, sexual orientation, age, status or marital status.

Discrimination may arise as a result of direct differential treatment or it may result from the unequal effect of treating individuals and groups in the same way. Either way, if the effect of the behaviour on the individual is to withhold or limit full, equal, and meaningful access to goods, services, facilities, employment, housing, etc., which are available to other members of society, then this is discrimination.

Discrimination can take many forms. For example, “Apartments were no longer vacant or rents were outrageously high, when persons of visible minorities went to inquire about them” and “Job vacancies were suddenly filled or we were fired for very vague reasons.”

Debrief – A debrief is the process of a facilitator asking participants questions after completing an activity or exercise to help reflect on what happened and to deepen the learning that took place as a result. Often, a debrief can take longer than the activity itself and the questions follow the sequencing of

“What?” (What happened during the activity or exercise); “So what?” (What does this mean to you, or the group); and “Now what?” (Based on this realization what can the group or individual do next time).

Empowerment – To give someone power or authority, or to help someone discover the power and authority they have in their lives.

Energizer – An activity used to activate or invigorate the group. It is a good idea to use energizers periodically throughout a workshop or program as a break that gives the group new energy.

Ethnocentrism – The tendency to judge all other cultures by the norms and standards of one’s own culture. It can be the feeling that your own cultural traditions and values are somehow better than others, or the assumption that what is true of your culture is also true of others. Eurocentrism refers to a complex system of beliefs that upholds the supremacy of Europe’s cultural values, ideas, and peoples.

Ethnocide is the act or attempt to systematically destroy another people’s ethnicity or culture. The federal government’s policy of residential schools, resulting in the legalized “kidnapping” of Aboriginal children so that they could be educated as “Europeanized” Canadians during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, is an example of ethnocide.

Facilitation – The coordination of an activity or exercise so that all group members are encouraged to participate and engage in a meaningful way.

Framework – A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality.

For example, working using an anti–oppressive framework could mean you value equity.

Fundraising – The process of soliciting and gathering money or other gifts in-kind, by requesting donations from individuals, businesses, charitable foundations, or governmental agencies.

Gender – A societal construct referring to roles, characteristics, behaviours, appearances, and identities that develop through cultural interpretations of genetic sex. Gender is also one’s sense of being woman, man, girl, boy, androgynous, or something else entirely, or of being perceived as woman, man, etc.

Gender does not exist as extreme polar opposites, but rather as a continuum.

Heteronormativity – The social enforcement of heterosexual relations to the occlusion of all other possibilities for sexual desire and expression.

Identity – What, how, and who one perceives oneself to be, a multi–faceted self-concept that evolves throughout life.

Facets of identity can include personal experiences, socio–economic status, gender identity, race, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, cultural practices, and much more.

Indigenous – Often used to describe particular ethnic groups originating and remaining in a particular region. The United Nations uses the idea of “indigenous groups” to obtain rights for Aboriginal and other groups whose situation has suffered from invading foreign settlers and colonists.

In-kind contributions – Refers to non-cash contributions to a project which can be given a measurable cash value. In-kind contributions should be shown in the budget as program expenses for which no donor funding is required. They show the level of your organization’s commitment compared to the total project budget. In-kind contributions are often included in a budget based on the contribution’s current fair market value. For example, if your organization gets an in-kind contribution of space to run your program, you would report this in your budget as the normal rent charged for the facility.

Interlocking Oppression – A concept describing the way that many kinds of oppression are linked together and inseparable. Systems of oppression come into existence in and through one another; they are not separate and distinct. This means that class exploitation could not be accomplished without gender and racial hierarchies and that imperialism would not be possible without class exploitation, sexism, heterosexism, and so on.

Internalized Oppression – Internalized oppression happens when members of an oppressed group are emotionally, physically, and spiritually discriminated against to the point that they may believe that their oppression is deserved, it is their lot in life, it is natural and right, or that it doesn’t even exist. The oppression begins to feel comfortable.

Intersectionality – Often used in reference to interlocking oppression. A theoretical concept that examines the ways that various socially and culturally constructed identity categories interact to produce, maintain and perpetuate inequality in society. Intersectionality holds that race/ethnicity, gender, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, class, or disability based oppressions do not act independently of one another; instead, these forms of oppression interrelate, creating a system of oppression that reflects the “intersection” of multiple forms of discrimination.

Consider an analogy to traffic in an intersection, coming and going in all four directions. Discrimination, like traffic through an intersection, may flow in one direction, and it may flow in another. If an accident happens in an intersection, it can be caused by cars travelling from any number of directions and, sometimes, from all of them. Similarly, if a Black woman is harmed because she is in an intersection, her injury could result from sex discrimination or race discrimination […] But it is not always easy to reconstruct an accident: Sometimes the skid marks and the injuries simply indicate that they occurred simultaneously, frustrating efforts to determine which driver caused the harm.

Oppression – Prolonged cruel, unjust or discriminatory treatment, sometimes unconscious, sometimes covert. A constant state of denying to others fair and equal treatment and fair and equal opportunities.

The constellation of structural economic, political, and psycho-social relations that systematically confine or reduce the life-choices of a social group, often through presenting members of the oppressed social group with a set of “double binds”: that is, choices between equally problematic outcomes.

Outreach – An effort by individuals in an organization or group to connect its ideas or practices to the efforts of other organizations, groups, specific audiences or the general public. Outreach often takes on an educational component (for example, the dissemination of ideas), but it is increasingly common for organizations to conceive of their outreach strategy as a two-way street in which outreach is framed as engagement rather than solely dissemination or education. Outreach strategies are linked to the mission of the organization and define targets, goals, and milestones.

Power – The definition of power is not widely agreed on! There are different ideas of where power originates, either from within yourself (referring to forcefulness or specific capacity, faculty, or aptitude that makes one able to act effectively) or from outside yourself, what society gives to you. Some theorists also define power as getting someone else to do what you want them to do (power-over) whereas others define it more broadly as the ability or capacity to act (power-to).

Many definitions of power come from the power-over-perspective. For example, a person, group, or nation having great influence or control over others as a result of having the ability or official capacity to exercise political, social, or economic control or authority.

Prejudice – A body of unfounded opinions or attitudes relating to an individual or group that represents this group in a specific light. It is an opinion or judgment (usually negative) based on irrelevant considerations or inadequate knowledge. Prejudice often leads to discrimination.

Privilege – Special rights, advantages, or immunity granted to, or assumed by, certain groups and considered by them as their right. For example in Canada, privilege is often granted to those who are white, to those who are heterosexual, and above all, to those who are white, heterosexual, and male.

Unearned advantages that are conferred systematically to members of a social group, in virtue of their group–membership.

Privilege is “an invisible package of unearned assets” that members of privileged groups “can count on cashing in every day,” but about which they “are meant to remain oblivious.”

Race – All human beings belong to one species: Homo Sapiens. The concept of race stems from the idea that the human species can be naturally subdivided into biologically distinct groups. Race has been used to describe people who were classified together on the basis of genetic or physical similarities — such as skin colour, shape of eyes, hair texture — and were also frequently thought to share cultural and social traits. In practice, however, scientists have found it impossible to separate humans into clearly defined races and most scientists today reject the concept of biological race. Nevertheless, race persists as a powerful social, cultural, and historical concept used to categorize people based on perceived differences in physical appearance, and behaviour.

According to the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, “The term is also used to designate social categories into which societies divide people according to such characteristics. Race is often confused with ethnicity. Various types of broad-based groups (for example, racial, ethnic, religious and regional groups) are rarely mutually exclusive, and the degree of discrimination against any one or more varies from place to place, and over time.

Some have felt that it is necessary to put the word in quotations in order to make it clear that these are social distinctions being referred to rather than biological ones, and to distance themselves from the original meaning of the term. Racialization (as defined by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation) is the process through which groups come to be designated as different, and on that basis subjected to differential and unequal treatment. In the present context, racialized groups include those who may experience differential treatment on the basis of race, ethnicity, language, economics, religion, culture, politics, etc.

Racism – Refers to a set of beliefs that assert the superiority of one racial group over another at the individual, as well as institutional, level. Individuals or groups of people exercise power through racism that abuses or disadvantages others on the basis of skin colour and racial or ethnic heritage. It also refers to discriminatory practices that protect and maintain the advantageous position of the dominant group(s).

The term racism is useful as a shorthand way of categorizing the systematic mistreatment experienced by people of colour, but should not mislead us into supposing that human beings belong to biologically different species.

Racism not only influences individual attitudes, it plays a key role in shaping state policies and institutional arrangements in the economy, in the political system, and in civil society. From this point of view, racism is about power and the unequal distribution of opportunities and resources. Systemic racism is institutionalized discrimination. For example, hiring and promotion procedures or entrance requirements may have the effect of excluding various racial groups and supporting members of the dominant group.

Resources – May refer to a source of supply or support, available funds, materials or ability to meet and handle situations.

Examples of resources would include funding, materials, staff, volunteers, and office supplies.

Safer Space – Safety refers to being free from the fear or threat of harm (physical, emotional, or mental) and from danger, risk, or injury. Safe space is a term used to indicate that a workshop or program is a space where participants will feel safe. A safe space is a place where anyone can relax and be fully self-expressed, without fear of being made to feel uncomfortable, unwelcome, or unsafe on account of biological sex, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, cultural background, age, or physical or mental ability; a place where the rules guard each person’s self-respect and dignity and strongly encourage everyone to respect others.

Based on our experience working with diverse groups we know that sometimes people do not feel safe or comfortable because of differences in experience and how each person experiences privilege and oppression. The term safer space acknowledges that it is not possible that all the participants feel completely safe or comfortable all the time. It also acknowledges that for learning to occur, occasionally constructive criticism and concepts that challenge how participants originally understood an issue are needed. Safer space means acknowledging that 100% safety is not possible at all times. As a facilitator you are not making any false promises, you ensure that active steps are continually taken to ensure that the space is as safe as possible and address issues that make group members feel unsafe, if and when they come up.

Sex – Also assigned sex, born with at birth or biological sex – A classification based on reproductive physiology and identified in four main ways, including: 1) primary sex characteristics (vulva, labia, clitoris, and vagina for females; penis and scrotum for males); 2) genetic sex or chromosomes (XX for females; XY for males); 3) gonads (ovaries for females; testes for males); and 4) secondary sex characteristics, or physical characteristics that are not present at birth and that develop during puberty as a result of hormones released by the gonads and the adrenal gland, including facial and chest hair (males), breasts (females), and pubic hair (everyone). Sex can be seen on a continuum, with most individuals concentrated near the ends.

Social location – A term that refers to someone’s experiences of power and privilege that takes into account their ability, ethnicity, race, religious affiliations, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, gender identity, and more.

Socio–economic Status – An individual or group position within a hierarchical social structure. Socio-economic status depends on a combination of variables, including occupation, education, income, wealth, and place of residence.

These include the socio–economic status of ones parents, as well as someone as an adult. Socio-economic status is assessed relative to others and is typically broken into three categories, high SES, middle SES, and low SES to describe the three areas a family or an individual may fall into.

Social Justice – The concept of social justice is not widely agreed on, but may hold some or all of the following beliefs:

Stereotypes – Generally, stereotyping refers to mental images that organize and simplify the world into categories on the basis of common properties. When used in reference to race, the word stereotyping means forming an instant or fixed understanding of a group of people. For example, “Asians are smart” or “Blacks are good athletes”. While stereotyping is a basic cognitive strategy used to reduce the amount of diversity to manageable proportions and/or to simplify decision-making; often, stereotyping gives rise to discrimination and racist behavior.