These definitions of key terms are from The Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF) Glossary of Terms and The SAGE handbook of prejudice, stereotyping and discrimination. Find more definitions in the handbooks and dictionaries from the Reference Material section of this guide.

“Modern 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 view rejects the notion that race is biologically defined” - CRRF


“Racism 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.” - CRRF

“Racism is a form of intergroup reaction (including thoughts, feelings, and behaviors) that systematically advantages one's own group and/or disadvantages another group defined by racial difference. Racism occurs at different social levels-culturally, institutionally, and individually.” - SAGE

Anti-Black Racism

“Policies 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.” - CRRF

Systemic Racism

“This 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), and Structural or societal (among institutional and across society).” - CRRF

Individual Racism

“Individual 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.” – CRRF

“Individual racism is closely affiliated with racial prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination.” -  SAGE
Institutional Racism

“Institutional 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.” - CRRF

“Institutional racism can develop from intentional biases (e.g., limiting immigration on the basis of assumptions about the inferiority of other groups) or motivations to provide resources to one's own group (e.g., attempts to limit another group's voting power). However, it does not require individuals’ intention to discriminate, the active support of individuals, or even the awareness of discrimination.” - SAGE

Structural/Societal Racism

“Structural 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.” - CRRF


“The 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.” - CRRF


“An active and consistent process of change to eliminate individual, institutional and systemic racism.” - CRRF


“Strategies, theories, and actions that challenge social and historical inequalities/injustices that have become part of our systems and institutions and allow certain groups to dominate over others.” - 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.” - CRRF

White Privilege

“The inherent advantages possessed by a white person on the basis of their race in a society characterized by racial inequality and injustice. This concept does not imply that a white person has not worked for their accomplishments but rather, that they have not faced barriers encountered by others.” - CRRF

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