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Glossary

Arab
Refers to a nation or people from Arabic-speaking country. Not synonymous with Muslim. When referring to events in a specific country, name the country, rather than generalizing with "Arab." Do not imply in headlines or text that “Arab” equals Muslim, holy war, or terrorist.


Assimilation
Becoming assimilated occurs when a person, or group of people, take on the dominant characteristics of the larger group so that they are no longer readily distinguishable from the larger group. Some people may not fully assimilate but, instead, give up certain aspects of their culture for the dominant one while retaining other aspects. Assimilation is easiest amongst groups that already share similar characteristics.


Boat people
Refugees from Vietnam who fled in boats beginning in 1978. About half of the boat people were ethnic Chinese, the majority of whom worked in small business and trade in Vietnam.


Camp
When Japanese Canadians refer to “Camp” they mean the camps – also called relocation, detention, internment, or concentration camps – into which they were forced to relocate during World War II.


Canadian Multiculturalism Act was passed in 1988 and legally established Canada’s multicultural policy. It:

  • officially recognizes the importance of Canada’s multicultural heritage and states that the heritage must be preserved and promoted
  • recognizes the rights of Aboriginal peoples in Canada
  • states that while English and French remain the only official languages of Canada; other languages can be spoken
  • states that all Canadian citizens have equal rights, regardless of any differences they might have and regardless of skin colour, religion, country of birth, ethnic background, etc.
  • recognizes the right of ethnic, linguistic, and religious minorities to keep their cultures, languages, and religious practices

Chinatown
Any one of several Chinese communities in Canada.


Chinese, Chinese Canadian
Use Chinese when referring to anyone of Chinese ancestry, but use Chinese Canadian when specifically referring to those of Chinese ancestry who are Canadian citizens.


Chinese Immigration Act (also known as the Chinese Exclusion Act)
In 1923, the Canadian government banned Chinese immigration by passing the Chinese Immigration Act. The act excluded almost all Chinese immigrants from coming to Canada. The limited groups that could enter were diplomats, children born in Canada to parents of Chinese race or descent, merchants, and students. The Chinese living in Canada were denied many of their civil liberties while this act was in effect. For example, Chinese Canadians did not gain the right to vote in Federal elections until after the Act was repealed in 1947.


Citizenship
A citizen is a person who is allowed to become an official member of a country. If you are born in Canada you are a Canadian citizen. If you are coming to live in Canada from another country, you have to pass a test to become a citizen. Many newcomers to Canada wish to become citizens. This is a goal of many immigrants because it means they become full members and participants in Canadian society and can take full advantage of the rights available to them.


Culture
Culture is a learned way of life shared by a group of people and is often passed down from generation to generation. Culture includes belief systems, values, social relationships, institutions, organizations, and material goods.


Cultural Retention
The decision to keep one’s culture as separate and distinct from the rest of society is known as cultural retention. Today, the Hutterites are an example of a group that has retained their culture.


Discrimination
The Canadian Human Rights Commission defines discrimination as: “treating people differently, negatively, or adversely because of their race, age, religion, sex, etc., that is because of a prohibited ground of discrimination. As used in human rights laws, discrimination means making a distinction between certain individuals or groups based on a prohibited ground of discrimination.”
(Discrimination, as defined by the Canadian Human Rights Commission)

Prohibited grounds of discrimination include:

  • race
  • national or ethnic origin
  • colour
  • religion
  • age
  • sex (including pregnancy and childbearing)
  • sexual orientation
  • marital status
  • family status
  • physical or mental disability (including dependence on alcohol or drugs)
  • pardoned criminal conviction

(Grounds of Discrimination, as defined by the Canadian Human Rights Commission)

Under Canadian law, discrimination is illegal. Discrimination can occur in many different settings and places, including schools or businesses. One place where it is particularly important for discrimination to be eliminated is in the workplace. Employers are not permitted to fire (or not hire) staff based on the grounds listed above. (There are several permissible exceptions to this rule; for example, bars and restaurants can discriminate on the basis of age as they cannot hire people under the age of eighteen to serve alcohol.) This is important because people are supposed to be hired based on their qualifications (such as schooling or experience) and not because of their skin or hair colour or sexual orientation.


Dominion Land Act
An act passed by the federal government in 1872 in order to encourage settlement. Under the terms of this act, the government provided 160 acres (65 hectares) of free land to each head of a family or twenty-one year-old male if he paid a $10 registration fee, lived on the land for three years, farmed 30 acres (12 hectares), and built a permanent dwelling such as a house.


Eskimos
In 1977, the Inuit Circumpolar Conference was held in Barrow, Alaska, and officially adopted the name “Inuit”, meaning “the people” as a replacement for the name “Eskimo”, meaning “eaters of raw meat”.


Eurasian
Person of mixed white and Asian heritage. Not derogatory.


Ethnic Cleansing
The systematic elimination of an ethnic group or groups from a region or society, as by deportation, forced emigration, or genocide.


Ethnic Violence
Violence whose victim is chosen based on his/her ethnic affiliation; a hate crime based on racism.


Famous 5
The Famous 5 are not the NWO or a bunch of comic book superheroes. They can be compared to a wrestling team or superheroes though because they did fight the government to get better rights for women.

Together, Emily Murphy, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Louise McKinney, Irene Parlby, and Nellie McClung achieved the recognition of women as persons under the British North America Act in 1929 so that women could be appointed to the Senate. They also worked in their own ways to improve women’s lives in Alberta, across Canada, and the world. These Alberta women became known as the Famous 5.


Filipino, Filipina
Use “Filipino” in reference to males or mixed groups and “Filipina” in reference to females.


Group of Blood at Fort Whoop-Up, Alberta First Nations in 1820

First Nations
Native Canadians have adopted the term First Nation: “This is a term that came into common usage in the 1970s to replace the word ‘Indian,’ which many people found offensive. Although the term First Nation is widely used, no legal definition of it exists. Among its uses, the term ‘First Nations peoples’ refers to the Indian people in Canada, both Status and Non-Status. Many Indian people have also adopted the term ‘First nation’ to replace the word ‘band’ in the name of their community.” (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada)


Genocide
The systematic and planned extermination of an entire national, racial, political, or ethnic group.


Head Tax
During the year 1885 there were many Chinese people trying to get into Canada. The government passed a law called the Chinese Immigration Act. The act stated that any person of Chinese origin who wanted to enter Canada was required to pay the Federal Government a $500/person fee that was called the “head tax.” The tax was so expensive that, in many cases, only one family member could afford the trip to Canada, leaving their wives and children behind. From 1885-1923 the federal government collected an estimated $123-million from this tax. The Chinese Immigration Act of 1923 halted Chinese immigration altogether until 1947.


Human Rights
Human rights are freedoms that are enjoyed by all people, simply because they are human. Human rights are supposed to apply equally to all people regardless or characteristics such as age, race, or gender. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights extends these rights to all people around the world. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects these rights in Canada and the Human Rights, Citizenship, and Multiculturalism Act protects them in Alberta. When people’s human rights are infringed, it is often because of inaccurate or untrue views held by other people; these views can be said to be prejudiced.


Homophobia
Fear, hatred, or dislike of homosexuality and lesbian and gay people.


Homosexual
Medical/clinical term for lesbians and gays (adj.). Of or relating to sexual and affectional attraction to a member of the same sex (n.). A person who is attracted to members of the same sex. Gay or lesbian is the preferred term in all contexts, except clinical.


Immigration
An immigrant is a person who comes into a country or region to live. They have left their original or native home to start a new life somewhere else. Immigration, then, is the act of leaving one's home country to start a new life in another country or area.


Indian, Indians
A person living in or from India. Do not use East Indian or Asian Indian, instead use Indian Canadian.


Internment
Venice School Teacherage Internment means that people are physically confined to an area or have limited rights during wartime, with the idea that if they are confined they do not pose a threat to national security. On 10 June 1940, Italy declared war on Canada. This was an event that would have a tremendous impact on the lives of many Italian-Canadian citizens. Almost immediately, hundreds of Italian Canadians were ordered to be interned – identified by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as enemy aliens. The government also called for the registration of all persons of Italian birth and authorized the confiscation of the properties of so-called enemy aliens. Although the majority of those interned were from the areas of highest concentrations of Italian-Canadians (Montreal, Toronto, and other centres in Ontario), there were also documented cases from western Canada.

Venice School pupils

In Western cities, such as Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary, and Vancouver, Italian-Canadians may not have experienced the same degree of hostility as their counterparts in Toronto and Montreal, but they were subjected to the close scrutiny of the RCMP to whom they had to report on a monthly basis. Some people were taken to work camps. Relief payments were suspended and, in some cases, travel restrictions were imposed. Activities such as the teaching of the Italian language and the meetings of Italian Societies were declared illegal.


Japanese, Japanese Canadian
Use Japanese when referring to anyone of Japanese ancestry, but use Japanese Canadian when specifically referring to those of Japanese ancestry who are Canadian citizens.


Korean, Korean Canadian
Use Korean when referring to anyone of Korean ancestry, but use Korean Canadian when specifically referring to those of Korean ancestry who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents.


Multiculturalism
Canadian multiculturalism is fundamental to our belief that all citizens are equal. Multiculturalism ensures that all citizens can keep their identities, can take pride in their ancestry, and can have a sense of belonging. Acceptance gives Canadians a feeling of security and self-confidence, making them more open to, and accepting of, diverse cultures. The Canadian experience has shown that multiculturalism encourages racial and ethnic harmony and cross-cultural understanding and discourages ghettoization, hatred, discrimination, and violence.

Through multiculturalism, Canada recognizes the potential of all Canadians, encouraging them to integrate into their society and take an active part in its social, cultural, economic, and political affairs.


Muslims
People of Islamic faith. Not all Arabs are Muslims; not all Muslims are Arabs. Not all Muslims in Canada are Arab or black.


NGO (Non-Governmental Organization)
Private organizations that pursue activities to relieve suffering, promote the interests of the poor, protect the environment, provide basic social services, or undertake community development; in wider usage, the term can be applied to any non-profit organization which is independent from government. It is typically value-based organizations and depends, in whole or in part, on charitable donations and voluntary service: for example, organizations like Amnesty International and Doctors Without Borders.


Prejudice
The Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission defines prejudice as “an opinion or judgement, frequently unfavourable, based on irrelevant considerations, inadequate knowledge, or inaccurate stereotyping.

Often learned at an early age, prejudice is irrational and not based on reality. Prejudicial behaviour causes pain and discomfort, impedes productivity in school and in the workplace, and denies Albertans who are the recipients of such behaviour the right to live, work, and play with dignity and respect.

Sometimes people are not aware of their own prejudices because they do not know their assumptions are based on inaccurate information. Consequently, they are also unaware that their prejudicial behaviour causes others pain.”

“Prejudice is dangerous because it often leads to discriminatory acts which are prohibited under the Human Rights, Citizenship, and Multiculturalism Act.”
(Stereotyping, Prejudice and Discrimination — information sheets produced by the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission)


Racially diverse
A group of people from different parts of the world. Not synonymous with racially mixed.


Racially mixed
A person whose ancestors came from different parts of the world. Not synonymous with racially diverse.


Racism
The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others. Also refers to discrimination or prejudice based on race.


Refugee
A person admitted to Canada from abroad due to that person's well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.


Responsibilities
As a citizen you have rights, but along with these rights come responsibilities. These responsibilities include:

  • obeying Canada’s laws
  • expressing opinions freely while respecting the rights and freedoms of others
  • helping others in the community
  • caring for and protecting Canada’s heritage and environment
  • eliminating discrimination and injustice

Canadian citizens have an additional responsibility: to vote in elections.


Rights
Canadian citizens enjoy certain rights based on Canada’s tradition of democracy and respect for human dignity and freedom. These rights are found in Canada’s Human Rights Codes and in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.


Settlers
While some cultural groups, such as the Ukrainians, tended to settle in large groups with each other, many families simply came on their own, settling nearby others of similar nationality or ethnic background. For some, such as the British and Americans, adjusting to their new homeland was not difficult, as they spoke the language and possessed a general knowledge of Canadian land features and farming methods. However, the transition was difficult indeed for those who could not speak English and knew little of their new homeland. Arriving, most often, only with what they could carry with them from their homelands, it was a challenge for many to provide adequate food, shelter, and clothing for their families until they managed to establish their homesteads and begin cultivating the land. This was very hard work and some people died trying.


Thai
Term used in reference to people from Thailand. This group should be distinguished from the Tai who come from Taiwan.

Sources

Alberta Heritage Alphabet

Diversity Watch C Glossary


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