Language evolves, and language around equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) evolves at a more rapid pace than many other social phenomena. While there are different ways under different perspectives to identify and qualify language, the intent is to use language – first and foremost – based on respect and doing no harm. This list is not exhaustive.

2SLGBTQIA+: is an acronym for Two Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and/or Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, and the countless affirmative ways in which people choose to self-identify.

Ableism: discrimination and social prejudice against people with disabilities or who are perceived to be disabled.

Accessibility: is the practice of making information, activities, and/or environments sensible, meaningful, and usable for as many people as possible.

Ageism: discrimination or prejudice on the grounds of a person’s age.

Agender: is an adjective that can describe a person who does not identify as any gender.

Aromantic: A person who experiences little or no romantic attraction to others and/or has a lack of interest in romantic relationships/behavior

Asexual: someone who does not experience sexual attraction for other individuals. It can be a spectrum where some asexual individuals can experience desire for varying types of physical intimacy.

Belonging: an individual’s sense of acceptance. When people feel a sense of belonging, they feel empowered. They can bring their full selves to the organization, meaning they can be authentic, included, creative and engaged.

Bisexual: sexually or romantically attracted to both men and women, or to more than one sex or gender

Cisgender: denoting or relating to a person whose gender identity corresponds with the sex registered for them at birth.

Decolonization: decolonization is reversing the results of colonization and reclaiming Indigenous ways of being, bringing back and restoring Indigenous culture, sovereignty, spiritual practices and knowledge.

Discrimination: discrimination is the deliberate treatment of a person in an unreasonable or prejudiced manner on the basis of their personal characteristic(s).

Diversity: a range of human differences such as race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, social class, education, and religion.

Diversity of Thought: diversity of thought is shaped by our culture, background, experiences, personalities, the way we think, age, and education. All these traits that make us human bring a unique perspective to the workplace and the decision-making process.

Employee resource groups: are voluntary, employee-led groups aiming to foster a diverse, inclusive workplace aligned with the organizations they serve. Usually led and participated in by employees who share a characteristic, whether it’s gender, ethnicity, religious affiliation, lifestyle, or interest. The groups exist to provide support and help in personal or career development and to create a safe space where employees can bring their whole selves to the table. Allies may also be invited to join the ERG to support their colleagues

Equality: achieving parity in status, rights, and opportunities (e.g. each individual is given the same resources and benefits regardless of circumstances).

Equity: achieving parity in policy, process and outcomes for historically and/or currently underrepresented and/or marginalized people and groups (e. g. treating people differently according to their different needs to level opportunities).

Equity Deserving Communities: refers to individuals who have traditionally not had access to economic and social opportunities because of discrimination or other societal barriers. Consider gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, disabilities, immigration background and/or low-income status that may qualify an individual as being part of a previously excluded population.

Ethnicity: refers to shared cultural experiences, religious beliefs, customs, dialect or origin. In comparison, race is a concept of identifying individuals based on their physical distinctions.

Gay: a person who is attracted to people of the same sex

Gender: can reflect socially constructed roles and behaviors. It reflects how a person self-identifies. It is not limited to a binary and can change (e.g. gender-queer, non-binary, man, transgender, and woman).

Gender fluid: refers to change over time in a person’s gender expression or gender identity, or both

Gender Identity: a personal conception of oneself as male, female, both, or neither.

Harassment: any undesirable and unpleasant conduct or action that may hurt or embarrass an individual, be it physical, verbal, written, or otherwise. Harassment can sometimes manifest in the form of discrimination or abuse. In most cases, the act of harassment continues after the first time of its occurrence.

Homophobia: irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuals or homosexual behaviour. There are many levels and forms of homophobia, including cultural/institutional, interpersonal, and internalized homophobia.

Inclusion: the practice of creating a sense of belonging, the feeling of being respected and valued by everyone, and where a person can be as they are and are not required to change to be included.

Inclusive Language: language that does not exclude or stereotype based on individual characteristics such as race, sexual orientation, age, ability, or gender identity.

Indigenization: moves to meaningfully change practices and structures so that power, dominance and control are rebalanced and returned to the Indigenous peoples. Indigenous ways of knowing and doing are embraced, presented, and adopted as being equal to Western ways of knowing and doing.

Intersectionality: this term, coined by professor Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989, refers to the multitude of diverse identities that intersect for individuals and groups. For instance, an immigrant woman with a disability will need to be considered for all of the intersections they identify and live with (i.e. immigrant, woman, diverse abilities). By adopting an intersectional approach, we can see this person for their whole self.

Lesbian: a woman who is attracted to other women

Misogyny: the hatred of, aversion to, or prejudice against women. It is a form of sexism that leads to the belief or attitude that masculinity, and specifically maleness, is not only desired, but more powerful and naturally dominant over femininity, and specifically femaleness.

Neurodivergent: having cognitive functions different from what is considered neurotypical (e.g. ADHD, Autism, Dyslexia).

Othering/Otherizing: viewing, labelling or treating an individual or group as different (i.e. “us vs. them”).

Pansexual: a person who is attracted to people regardless of their sex or gender.

People with disabilities: people with long-term physical, mental, or sensory impairments can hinder participation in society on an equal basis as others.

Pronoun: a word used as a substitute for a noun. Gender-neutral pronouns include They/Them/Their (use this when unaware of a person’s pronouns).

Queer: a sexual or gender identity that does not correspond to established ideas of sexuality and gender, especially heterosexual norms.

Race: a concept of identifying individuals based on their physical distinctions. In comparison, ethnicity refers to shared cultural experiences, religious beliefs, customs, dialects, or origin.

Racism: can be described as inappropriate conduct, attitude or behaviour directed towards a specific person(s) based on their membership in particular racial or ethnic groups.

Reconciliation: the ongoing process through which Indigenous peoples and the Crown work cooperatively to establish and maintain a mutually respectful framework for living together, with a view to fostering strong, healthy, and sustainable Indigenous nations within a strong Canada

Sex: attempts to describe the physical and physiological characteristics chosen to assign humans as male, female, or intersex. It is commonly assigned based on characteristics such as sexual and reproductive anatomy and genetic makeup.

Sexual/Romantic Orientation: a person’s experiences of sexual and romantic attraction to other people, or to no one.

Straight (Heterosexual): a person who is attracted to people of the opposite sex.

Traditional Sexism: the belief that male gender identities and masculine gender expressions are superior to female and/or feminine ones.

Transgender: someone whose gender identity or gender expression does not correspond with their sex assigned at birth

Transmisogyny: transphobia directed at trans women and transfeminine folk that reinforces male power and privilege

Transphobia: the fear and dislike of, and discrimination against, transgender people or anyone who does not fit into the male/female gender binary.

Two-spirit: refers to a person who identifies as having both a masculine and a feminine spirit, and is used by some Indigenous people to describe their sexual, gender and/or spiritual identity. As an umbrella term it may encompass same-sex attraction and a wide variety of gender variance, including people who might be described in Western culture as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, genderqueer, cross-dressers or who have multiple gender identities. Two-spirit can also include relationships that could be considered poly. The creation of the term “two-spirit” is attributed to Elder Myra Laramee.