Employment Equity

Glossary of Terms 

Some of the following definitions were adapted from: The 519’s Glossary of Terms: facilitating shared understandings around equity, diversity, inclusion and awareness, Aboriginal Self-Identification Project Final Report, the Policy and guidelines on racism and racial discrimination and the Policy on preventing discrimination because of gender identity and gender expression.

Bisexual - A person who is emotionally, physically, spiritually and/or sexually attracted to people of more than one gender, though not necessarily at the same time.

First Nation - This term became common use in the 1970s to replace the word “Indian.” Although the term First Nation is widely used, no legal definition exists. The term has also been adopted to replace the word “Band” in the naming of communities. Many people today prefer to be called “First Nations” or “First Nations People” instead of “Indians.” The term First Nation includes all Aboriginal people who are not Inuit or Métis, regardless of their legal status under the Indian Act.

Gay – A person whose enduring physical, romantic and/or emotional attractions are to people of the same gender. The word can refer to men or women, although some women prefer “lesbian.” Sometimes used as an umbrella term for the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, Queer) community.

Gender Identity: Refers to each person’s internal and individual experience of gender. It is a person’s sense of being a woman, a man, both, neither, or anywhere along the gender spectrum. A person’s gender identity may be the same as or different from their birth-assigned sex. For most people, their sex and gender identity align. For some, it does not. A person may be born male but identify as a woman, or born female but identify as a man. Other people may identify outside the categories of woman/man, or may see their gender identity as fluid and moving between different genders at different times in their life.

Genderqueer/Gender Non-conforming/Gender Variant - Individuals who do not follow gender stereotypes based on the sex they were assigned at birth. They may identify and express themselves as “feminine men” or “masculine women” or as androgynous, outside of the categories “boy/man” and “girl/woman.” People who are gender non-conforming may or may not identify as trans. 

Heterosexual - A person who has romantic or sexual attractions to people of another gender.

Inuit - the Aboriginal Peoples of Arctic Canada who live primarily in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and northern parts of Labrador and Québec. The word Inuit means “people” in the Inuit language – Inuktitut. The singular of Inuit is Inuk. Their traditional languages, customs and cultures are distinctly different from those of the First Nations and Métis. 

Lesbian - A woman who is emotionally, physically, spiritually and/or sexually attracted to women.

Métis - The Métis are a distinct Aboriginal people with a unique culture, language, and heritage. Their ancestral homeland includes Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, and the Northwest Territories. The term is used broadly to describe people with mixed First Nations and European ancestry who identify themselves as Métis, distinct from First Nations people, Inuit or non-Aboriginal people

Non-Status - Refers to people who identify as First Nations but are not recognized on the Indian Register maintained by the federal government of Canada.

Queer - Formerly derogatory slang term used to identify LGBT people. Some members of the LGBT community have embraced and reinvented this term as a positive and proud political identifier when speaking among and about themselves.

Racialized – According to the Ontario Human Rights Commission (2005), “When it is necessary to describe people collectively, the term “racialized person” or “racialized group” is preferred over "racial minority,” “visible minority," “person of colour" or “non-White” as it expresses race as a social construct rather than as a description based on perceived biological traits. Furthermore, these other terms treat “White” as the norm to which racialized persons are to be compared and have a tendency to group all racialized persons in one category, as if they are all the same” (p.12).

Status Indian - Refers to individuals who are eligible to have their names included on the Indian Register maintained by the federal government of Canada.

Trans - Umbrella term that describes people with diverse gender identities and gender expressions that do not conform to stereotypical ideas about what it means to be a girl/woman or boy/man in society. “Trans” can mean transcending beyond, existing between, or crossing over the gender spectrum. It includes but is not limited to people who identify as transgender, transsexual, cross dressers or gender non-conforming (gender variant or gender queer). Trans identities include people whose gender identity is different from the gender associated with their birth-assigned sex. Trans people may or may not undergo medically sup­portive treatments, such as hormone therapy and a range of surgical procedures, to align their bodies with their internally felt gender identity.

Transitioning - Refers to a host of activities that some trans people may pursue to affirm their gender identity. This may include changes to their name, sex designation, dress, the use of specific pronouns, and possibly medically supportive treatments such as hormone therapy, sex-reassignment surgery or other procedures. There is no checklist or average time for a transition process, and no universal goal or endpoint. Each person will decide what meets their needs.

Two-Spirit - term used by Aboriginal people to describe from a cultural perspective people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans or intersex. It is used to capture a concept that exists in many different Indigenous cultures and languages. For some, the term Two-Spirit describes a societal and spiritual role that people played within traditional societies, such as: mediators, keepers of certain ceremonies, transcending accepted roles of men and women, and filling a role as an established middle gender.


519 Community Centre, Glossary of Terms

A Profile of Aboriginal Peoples in Ontario[BS1] 

Council of Ontario Universities, Aboriginal Self-Identification Project Final Report

Ontario Human Rights Commission, Glossary of Human Rights Terms

Ontario Human Rights Commission, Policy and guidelines on racism and racial discrimination

Ontario Human Rights Commission, Policy on preventing discrimination because of gender identity and gender expression

Statistics Canada, Visible Minority and Population Group Reference Guide, National Household Survey, 2011

Employment Equity Questionnaires from McMaster University, York University, Wilfred Laurier University, Queens University, and Trent University