The Canadian Race Relations Foundation maintains a glossary with definitions of key concepts relevant to race relations, the promotion of Canadian identity, belonging and the mutuality of citizenship rights and responsibilities.

Here are some selected definitions from the CRRF and other noted sources.

Anti-Black RacismPolicies and practices rooted in Canadian institutions such as, education, health care, and justice that mirror and reinforce beliefs, attitudes, prejudice, stereotyping and/or discrimination towards people of African descent.
Anti-RacismAn active and consistent process of change to eliminate individual, institutional and systemic racism.
Black (various sources)

A person having dark pigmentation of the skin.
In Canada, Black Canadian is a designation for people of African or Caribbean ancestry, who are citizens or permanent residents of Canada. In the Canadian Census Black is a self-identification choice and is included in the population group Visible Minority. 
Black Canadians who are of Caribbean origin sometimes reject the term African-Canadian as an erasure of the uniquely Caribbean aspects of their heritage. The plural form Blacks is also used to refer to Black people as a group or community.


The BC Black History Awareness Society appreciates that there are differing opinions concerning the term Black, as well as a wide range of identities, including African-Canadian, People of African Descent, Caribbean-Canadian and others. The Black population in Canada is diverse; from Statistics Canada (2021 census) we know that more than 1.5 million people, including 61,755 here in BC self-identified as Black, come from 170 countries, represent more than 200 ethnic or cultural origins and speak more than 100 languages.

A multitude of organizations across Canada have embraced the term Black, including Black Artists Network Dialogue, Black Business and Professional Association, Black Entrepreneurship Program, Black Health Alliance, Black Youth Helpline, Federation of Black Canadians, Black Lives Matter and many, many others. The term is often employed as an inclusive, self-identifying choice as well as to provide a broad-based representation of the population which these organizations and ours serve.

Some members of the community consider the use of Black as a collective term to be a vestige of oppression; while for others the word has been used in literature to include the entire diasporic community (e.g., W.E. B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folks) and in culture to reflect dignity and self-esteem (e.g., Nina Simone, To Be Young Gifted and Black). 

Colonialism (CRRF)The policy or practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another country, occupying it with settlers, and exploiting it economically. In the late 15th century, the British and French explored, fought over, and colonized places within North America which constitutes present day Canada.  See Settler Colonialism.
Colonialism (National Geographic)Colonialism is defined as “control by one power over a dependent area or people.” It occurs when one nation subjugates another, conquering its population and exploiting it, often while forcing its own language and cultural values upon its people. By 1914, a large majority of the world's nations had been colonized by Europeans at some point.

The concept of colonialism is closely linked to that of imperialism, which is the policy or ethos of using power and influence to control another nation or people that underlies colonialism.  National Geographic
DiscriminationThe denial of equal treatment and opportunity to individuals or groups because of personal characteristics and membership in specific groups, with respect to education, accommodation, health care, employment, access to services, goods, and facilities. This behaviour results from distinguishing people on that basis without regard to individual merit, resulting in unequal outcomes for persons who are perceived as different. Differential treatment that may occur on the basis of any of the protected grounds enumerated in human rights law.
EthnicityA group that shares similar cultural affinities that could include shared origins, language or dialects, culture, or traditions.
Individual RacismIndividual Racism is structured by an ideology (set of ideas, values and beliefs) that frames one's negative attitudes towards others; and is reflected in the willful, conscious/unconscious, direct/indirect, or intentional/unintentional words or actions of individuals. There are three types of racism: Individual, Institutional, and Structural. See Systemic Racism on how these connect, relate and overlap.
Intersectionality (British Columbia’s Office of the Human Rights Commission)The interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.

Kimberlé Crenshaw, lawyer, activist and scholar in relationship to Black women and the law in the United States. “The legal system fails Black women because it did not acknowledge, or address, systemic inequalities linked to the intersections of racism and sexism.” Olena Hankivsky, a professor at Simon Fraser University’s School of Public Policy, notes, “according to an intersectionality perspective, inequities are never the result of single, distinct factors. Rather, they are the outcome of intersections of different social locations, power relations and experiences.” British Columbia’s Office of the Human Rights Commission. Disaggregated Data Report Pg. 46
Institutional RacismInstitutional Racism exists in organizations or institutions where the established rules, policies, and regulations are both informed by, and inform, the norms, values, and principles of institutions. These in turn, systematically produce differential treatment of, or discriminatory practices towards various groups based on race. It is enacted by individuals within organizations, who because of their socialization, training and allegiance to the organization abide by and enforce these rules, policies and regulations. It essentially maintains a system of social control that favours the dominant groups in society (status quo).  There are three types of racism: Individual, Institutional, and Structural. See Systemic Racism on how these connect, relate and overlap.
People of African Descent (United Nations: Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights)People of African descent live in many countries of the world, either dispersed among the local population or in communities. The largest concentration can be found in Latin America and the Caribbean where estimates reach 150 million.

Whether descendants of those Africans that were displaced to the Americas during the transatlantic slave trade many generations back, or more recent migrants who have journeyed to the Americas, Europe, Asia and within Africa itself, people of African descent throughout the world make up some of the most marginalised groups.

They are a specific victim group who continue to suffer discrimination as the historic legacy of the transatlantic slave trade. Even Afro-descendants who are not directly descended from slaves face the racism and discrimination that still persists today, generations after the slave trade ended.   OHCHR
People of ColourA term which applies to non-White racial or ethnic groups; generally used by racialized peoples as an alternative to the term “visible minority.” The word is not used to refer to Aboriginal peoples, as they are considered distinct societies under the Canadian Constitution. When including Indigenous peoples, it is correct to say “people of colour and Aboriginal / Indigenous peoples.”

A state of mind; a set of attitudes held, consciously or unconsciously, often in the absence of legitimate or sufficient evidence.

A prejudiced person is considered irrational and very resistant to change, because concrete evidence that contradicts the prejudice is usually dismissed as exceptional. Frequently prejudices are not recognized as false or unsound assumptions or stereotypes, and, through repetition, become accepted as common sense notions.

The terms “racism” and “prejudice” are sometimes used interchangeably but they are not the same. A primary difference between the two is that racism relies on a level of institutional power in order to impose its dominance.

RaceModern scholarship views racial categories as socially constructed, that is, race is not intrinsic to human beings but rather an identity created, often by socially dominant groups, to establish meaning in a social context. This often involves the subjugation of groups defined as racially inferior, as in the one-drop rule used in the 19th-century United States to exclude those with any amount of African ancestry from the dominant racial grouping, defined as “white”. Such racial identities reflect the cultural attitudes of imperial powers dominant during the age of European colonial expansion. This view rejects the notion that race is biologically defined.
Racial DiscriminationThe term "racial discrimination" shall mean any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.
United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner
RacializationThe ongoing processes of constructing and imposing racial categories and characteristics on a given person or community.
RacismRacism is a belief that one group is superior to others performed through any individual action, or institutional practice which treats people differently because of their colour or ethnicity. This distinction is often used to justify discrimination. There are three types of racism: Institutional, Systemic, and Individual.
RacistRefers to an individual, institution, or organization whose beliefs and/or actions imply (intentionally or unintentionally) that certain races have distinctive negative or inferior characteristics. Also refers to racial discrimination inherent in the policies, practices and procedures of institutions, corporations, and organizations which, though applied to everyone equally and may seem fair, result in exclusion or act as barriers to the advancement of marginalized groups.
Settler/Settler ColonialismWithin the context of race relations, the term refers to the non-indigenous population of a country. Settler colonialism functions through the replacement of indigenous populations with an invasive settler society that, over time, develops a distinctive identity and sovereignty. In Canada and in other countries, the ascendancy of settler culture has resulted in the demotion and displacement of indigenous communities, resulting in benefits that are unearned.  See Colonialism.
Structural or Societal RacismStructural or Societal Racism pertains to the ideologies upon which society is structured. These ideologies are inscribed through rules, policies and laws; and represents the ways in which the deep rooted inequities of society produce differentiation, categorization, and stratification of society's members based on race. Participation in economic, political, social, cultural, judicial and educational institutions also structure this stratification (Carl James, 2010).
There are three types of racism: Individual, Institutional, and Structural. See Systemic Racism on how these connect, relate and overlap.

Carl E. James holds the Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community and Diaspora in the Faculty of Education at York University and is the Senior Advisor on Equity and Representation at York University, as part of the Division of Equity, People and Culture.
Systemic RacismThis is an interlocking and reciprocal relationship between the individual, institutional and structural levels which function as a system of racism. These various levels of racism operate together in a lockstep model and function together as whole system. These levels are:
Individual (within interactions between people)
Institutional (within institutions and systems of power)
Structural or societal (among institutional and across society)
Visible Minority (CRRF)Canadian Race Relations Definition: Term used to describe people who are not white. Although it is a legal term widely used in human rights legislation and various policies, currently the terms racialized minority or people of colour are preferred by people labelled as ‘visible minorities’.
Visible Minority (Statistics Canada)Statistics Canada Defintion: Visible minority refers to whether a person belongs to a visible minority group as defined by the Employment Equity Act and, if so, the visible minority group to which the person belongs. The Employment Equity Act defines visible minorities as "persons, other than Aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour". The visible minority population consists mainly of the following groups: South Asian, Chinese, Black, Filipino, Latin American, Arab, Southeast Asian, West Asian, Korean and Japanese.

Person refers to an individual and is the unit of analysis for most social statistics programmes.

Statistics Canada

The BC Government has published Addressing Racism: Working Glossary