Glossary of Terms


Language, particularly in relation to protected groups, involves social constructs which evolve over time.  The terms and definitions used in this glossary are not meant to label individuals but are meant to be helpful functional descriptors.  They are not standardized and may be used differently by different people.

Aboriginal persons

Aboriginal/indigenous persons are those who identify themselves as Metis, Inuit, First Nations. Native or North American Indian (inclusive of North, Central America and the Caribbean).  First Nations or North American Indian include status, treaty or registered Indians, as well as non- status and non-registered Indians.

Racially visible persons

Racialized persons are people (other than Aboriginal/indigenous peoples) who are non-white in colour and non-Caucasian in race, regardless of their place of birth or citizenship.

Examples of racially visible groups:

  • Black
  • Non-white Latin, South, Central American or Caribbean
  • East Asian (e.g., Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese, Korean)
  • South Asian (e.g., Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan)
  • Southeast Asian (e.g., Malaysian, Cambodian, Filipino/a, Laotian, Thai, Vietnamese)
  • West Asian and Arab (e.g., Iranian, Lebanese, Egyptian, Armenian, Palestinian, Syrian,  Afghani, Iraqi, Israeli,)
  • Multiracial

Persons with a disability

Persons with a disability are persons who have a chronic, long-term or recurring physical, sensory, mental, intellectual or learning impairment, that in interaction with a barrier, hinders that person’s full and effective participation in society.  This includes, but isn’t limited to, persons whose functional limitations due to their impairment have been accommodated in their current job or workplace by the use of technical aids, changes to equipment or other working arrangements.

Examples of disabilities:

  • Mobility, coordination or dexterity impairment (e.g. difficulty walking)
  • Visual impairment
  • Hearing impairment
  • Non-visible physical impairment (e.g. hemophilia) Developmental disability (e.g. Down Syndrome)
  • Learning disability (e.g. dyslexia)
  • Mental disability (e.g. severe depression, bipolar disorder, substance abuse disorder)

Sexual Orientation

Sexual orientation refers to how a person characterizes their emotional, romantic or sexual attraction to others. Some people experience their sexual orientation as an unchanging, lifelong part of their nature, and others experience it in a more fluid way that changes over time or across situations.

Gender Identity and Expression

Gender identity refers to one’s internal and individual experience of gender.  It is their sense of being a woman, man, both, neither or anywhere along or outside of the gender spectrum.  A person’s gender identity may be the same as, or different from, the gender typically associated with their sex assigned at birth.

Gender expression refers to how a person expresses their gender through behavior and outward appearance such as dress, hair, make-up, body language and voice.  A person’s name and pronoun are also common ways of expressing gender identity. Gender expression and gender identity are not always, and do not have to be, congruent or matched.