Ontario's anti-racism strategic plan

At school, an Indigenous girl learns more about Europeans settling in Canada than the history of her nation and its relationship with this land since time immemorial.

A Black teenage boy is not provided all of his higher education options as he finishes high school.

A Muslim woman is frequently asked to pass through a separate security line when she travels.

Racism is real. Histories of slavery, colonization and institutions of our past continue to shape the present and create a further gap between racialized and Indigenous people and others. This is not acceptable.

The continuous growth of social movements calling for racial justice remind us that these calls are by no means new. They serve as further reminders that systemic racism is deeply entrenched into our day-to-day lives and that we must ensure that the institutions we rely on for critical public services are free of systemic racism.

For too long, government has heard the calls for change. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Black Lives Matter — Toronto, The Colour of Poverty — Colour of Change, the Anti-Black Racism Network, The Council of Agencies Serving South Asians, Urban Alliance on Race Relations, The National Council of Canadian Muslims, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and many other community voices have all shone a light on systemic racism. They are supported by decades of research, reports and recommendations that highlight the need to combat systemic racism in institutions, and continue to be bolstered by acts of racism in North America and beyond.

Race should never limit anyone’s social, economic and political opportunities.

Government has a leading role to play in eliminating systemic racism. We are responsible for ensuring people in Ontario benefit equally from public polices, programs and services.

Ontario’s anti-racism strategic plan is the province’s commitment to change the way we do things and break down barriers to advance racial equity. This means reviewing government policies, programs and services to find ways for everyone to have better opportunities and outcomes. It’s about making sure government is here to serve and support everyone.

Systemic racism brings an enormous socio-economic cost, and everyone will feel its impacts until we solve the problem at its roots. It is never too late to do the right thing. That is why we are acting now.

What is systemic racism?

Systemic racism occurs when an institution or set of institutions working together creates or maintains racial inequity. This can be unintentional, and doesn’t necessarily mean that people within an organization are racist.

It is often caused by hidden institutional biases in policies, practices and processes that privilege or disadvantage people based on race. It can be the result of doing things the way they’ve always been done, without considering how they impact particular groups differently.


Racialization refers to the “the process by which societies construct races as real, different and unequal in ways that matter to economic, political and social life” (Commission on Systemic Racism in the Ontario Criminal Justice System, 1995). Racial categories are not based on science or biology but on differences that society has chosen to emphasize, with significant consequences for people’s lives. People can be racialized not only based on skin colour but also other perceived characteristics such as their culture, language, customs, ancestry, country or place of origin, or religion as is the case with Islamophobia and antisemitism.

Anti-racism as an approach

Anti-racism is about taking proactive steps to fight racial inequity. It’s different from other approaches that focus on multiculturalism or diversity because it acknowledges that systemic racism exists and actively confronts the unequal power dynamic between groups and the structures that sustain it.

Anti-racism involves consistently assessing structures, policies and programs, and through monitoring outcomes, ensuring they are fair and equitable for everyone.

Our guiding principles

Ontario’s anti-racism strategic plan targets systemic racism by building an anti-racism approach into the way government develops policies, makes decisions, evaluates programs, and monitors outcomes. It calls for a proactive, collaborative effort from all government ministries and community partners to work toward racial equity.

The plan is comprised of initiatives under four categories: Policy, Research and Evaluation; Sustainability and Accountability; Public Education and Awareness and Community Collaboration. In addition, there are targeted population-specific strategies. All of these initiatives are informed by the following key guiding principles:

  1. Systemic focus: We are focusing on proactively removing systemic barriers and root causes of racial inequities in provincial institutions.
  2. Whole-of-government, collective impact approach: We recognize that working with ministries across government — not in silos — is required to address systemic racial inequities.
  3. Targeted universalism: We recognize everyone benefits from government’s targeted removal of systemic barriers faced by the most disadvantaged communities. Reducing barriers and disparities leads to a better Ontario for everyone.
  4. Distinctness and intersectionality of racisms: We acknowledge racism is experienced differently by various racialized groups, and within groups along intersectional lines, including gender identity, creed, class, sexual orientation, history of colonization, etc.
  5. Inclusive process: Indigenous and racialized people must be meaningfully engaged. Their perspectives and guidance inform the strategy and government decision-making.
  6. Transparent, evidence-based approach: Our approach is evidence-based and driven by measurable goals and outcomes that are tracked and publicly reported. This is consistent with Ontario’s Open Government principles.
  7. Sustainability: We are setting the foundation for long-term government anti-racism efforts.

Policy, research and evaluation

Develop a disaggregated race data collection framework and guidelines

To address racial inequities, we need better race-based disaggregated data — data that can be broken down so that we further understand whether specific segments of the population are experiencing adverse impacts of systemic racism.

We also need a standard framework and guidelines to ensure data is collected consistently. Reliable, usable and comparable disaggregated race-based data across government-funded programs will help us monitor the impact of its policies and programs on different segments of the population. It will help us identify institutional outcomes, patterns and potential biases.

Protecting everyone’s privacy is paramount, which is why the data collected will be collected and managed subject to strong legal privacy requirements and protections.

We will also work with Indigenous communities to understand and address how the principles of data governance, such as Ownership, Control, Access and Possession (OCAP®) are reflected in our work.

Based on what we heard during the Anti-Racism Directorate’s 10 community meetings, we will begin piloting the framework with the following ministries in 2017:

  • child welfare (Ministry of Children and Youth
  • justice (Ministry of the Attorney General and Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Ministry of Children and Youth Services)
  • education kindergarten to grade 12 (Ministry of Education)
  • health and mental health (Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care)

Race based data collection:

[C]ollecting and analyzing data that identifies people on the basis of race, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation and other Ontario Human Rights Code grounds… for a Code-consistent purpose is permitted, and is in accordance with Canada’s human rights legislative framework… [D]ata collection can play a useful and often essential role in creating strong human rights and human resources strategies for organizations in the public, private and non-profit sectors.

Ontario Human Rights Commission, 2009, Count Me In! Collecting human rights-based data

Develop an anti-racism impact assessment framework

Identifying patterns is the first step. We also need a method for applying an anti-racism perspective to decision-making at the early stages to prevent systemic racism from taking root.

We will create a proactive assessment framework to help anticipate and remove unconscious bias in proposed policies, programs and decisions. This will shine a light on the actual and potential outcomes, giving us an opportunity to improve the policy before it is implemented.

Based on what we heard during the Anti-Racism Directorate’s 10 community meetings, we will begin piloting the anti-racism impact assessment with the following ministries in Spring 2017:

  • child welfare (Ministry of Children and Youth
  • justice (Ministry of the Attorney General and Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Ministry of Children and Youth Services)
  • education K-12 (Ministry of Education)

Assessing the impact of policies and programs on Indigenous and racialized people is critical. As a commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous people, Ontario is also working towards greater inclusion of Indigenous voices in government decision-making and enabling culture-based, community led solutions as more effective approaches to program design, delivery and outcomes.

The most important action the government can take is to place anti-racism at the core of its agenda. Diversity is not enough.

Roy McMurtry and Alvin Curling, Roots Of Youth Violence Report

Building on the work we’re doing

We’re not starting from scratch. This plan builds on the work Ontario is doing to move towards racial equity.

  • The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services is working with the Anti-Racism Directorate to build an anti-racism perspective into the Strategy for a Safer Ontario. The strategy will review policing with a focus on interactions between police and Indigenous and racialized people, including people in crisis, and focus on modernizing the Police Services Act.
  • The Ministry of Education is leading an Indigenous Education Strategy to improve Indigenous students’ educational attainment from kindergarten to grade 12 and support their transition to postsecondary education, training or the workplace. The Ministry is also working with Indigenous partners to revise the Ontario curriculum to include mandatory learning on treaties, the history of residential schools and the legacy of colonialism.
  • The Ministry of the Attorney General appointed Justice Michael Tulloch to conduct an independent review of Ontario’s three independent police oversight bodies. The government has asked Justice Tulloch to provide recommendations on how to enhance the transparency and accountability of the oversight bodies, whether and how more information could be released regarding Special Investigations Unit investigations and whether police bodies should collect race or other demographic data.
  • The Ministry of Education has established an Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy that aims to help the education community identify and address discriminatory biases and systemic barriers in order to support the achievement and wellbeing of all students.
  • The Ministries of Education, Children and Youth Services, and Advanced Education and Skills Development are working to:
    • increase equitable access to post-secondary education by helping to remove and prevent discriminatory biases and systemic barriers to support student achievement/wellbeing
    • target gaps in student achievement from kindergarten to grade 12 through the Ontario Focused Intervention Partnership, which provides funding and support to school boards based on local needs.
  • The Ministry of Children and Youth Services provided funding to the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies, through the One Vision One Voice (OVOV) project, to work with Black community leaders to develop a more culturally appropriate practice framework to deliver child welfare services. The OVOV practice framework provides Children’s Aid Society staff and caregivers with tools to better meet the needs of Black children, youth and families that are based in anti-oppressive practice with a focus on anti-Black racism. The ministry will also support the implementation of the framework in Children’s Aid Societies across the province.

Sustainability and accountability

Anti-racism legislation

Ontario plans to introduce anti-racism legislation in Spring 2017 that would, if passed, ensure future sustainability and accountability of the government’s anti-racism work. It would provide a framework for government and organizations to identify and combat systemic racism.

The proposed legislation, if passed, would provide for the development of measurable targets, public reporting and mandated community engagement through renewable multi-year strategic plans. These plans would be assessed with public input at least every five years to remain relevant.

The proposed legislation would give the government the authority to mandate race data collection and implement the use of an anti-racism impact assessment process.

These proposed measures would help facilitate government’s ongoing commitment to supporting anti-racism efforts in its own institutions and, over time, across a range of organizations.

Publicly report on progress

We need to be transparent and share progress on our work and how it helps to improve outcomes. We will develop an annual progress report. The report will reflect the ongoing collaboration with Indigenous and racialized communities, ministry partners and government institutions, on the initiatives and targets in this plan.

I don’t think it’s sufficient to have to rely on political parties… to have racial justice. We either want Ontario to have racial justice or we don’t. If it’s not mandated, then it means nothing.

Anti-Racism Directorate public meeting, Mississauga — Sept 27, 2016

Building on the work we’re doing

  • The Ministry of Children and Youth Services has introduced legislation and other reforms to strengthen and modernize child and youth services. The ministry plans to require Children’s Aid Societies to report on the composition of boards and how they reflect the diversity of the communities they serve, and on activities to better serve diverse communities.
  • The Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee, which is independent of government, actively encourages applications from candidates whose appointments would serve to reflect the demographic diversity of Ontario communities in which they will preside.
  • The Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation has a mandate to strengthen relationships with Indigenous communities and institutions, improve socio-economic conditions, facilitate economic sustainability, resolve land claims and promote reconciliation. Since its establishment, The Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation has been working to build stronger relationships with First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples to improve socio-economic outcomes and support the overall goal of reconciliation.

Public education and awareness

Targeted public education and awareness

It’s important for government to confront individual biases and increase everyone’s awareness of systemic racism. We will conduct research and engage the public to understand what people know and how they have experienced or witnessed racism across different regions and demographic groups. Based on this, we will develop and lead targeted public education and awareness initiatives to increase awareness of systemic racism and how it impacts people.

People can also face racism due to their religion, as is the case with Islamophobia and antisemitism. As a society, we need to better understand the causes and impacts of racism to ensure our province continues to be a safe place for people of all races and religions.

The targeted public education and awareness initiatives will focus on anti-Black racism, anti-Indigenous racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia and other forms of racism against racialized groups such as Sikhs. To support these initiatives, we will develop a digital presence and other communications and outreach strategies.

How can we open up the conversation? Because, my Black boy who is four years old knows what racism is… That means they are not too young to have the conversation.

Anti-Racism Directorate public meeting, Toronto — July 14, 2016

Address Islamophobia

The need to target Islamophobia has become urgent. We will engage with communities and partner ministries to develop public education and awareness initiatives that aim to mitigate and prevent Islamophobia.

  • A research and consultation report: We will engage with community organizations and do research to better understand the causes and impacts of Islamophobic incidents and to inform future development of Islamophobia initiatives.
  • Public education for students on Islamophobia: Working with the Ministry of Education and school boards, we will strengthen and promote educational resources for K–12 students, which aim to mitigate and prevent Islamophobic behaviour.
  • Public reporting on crimes motivated by hate: We will work with the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services to explore the collection and publication of data from police services on reported incidents of Islamophobia and other forms of racial prejudice.

Building on the work we’re doing

  • The Ministry of Education directed provincially funded school boards to work closely with Indigenous partners to review team names, logos and mascots to raise awareness about the negative impact of stereotypes on individuals, schools and communities.
  • The Ministry of Education is funding resources, including training for teachers on Islamophobia to help teachers discuss geopolitical events, negative media narratives, and general stereotypes with their students. This project will be led by the National Council of Canadian Muslims, and include 20 half-day workshops for teachers, including presentations, webinars and print materials.
  • The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services is:
    • leading a Human Rights Plan to build staff capacity to support the human rights of those who have come in contact with the justice system. The plan helps embed human rights principles and Indigenous peoples’ perspectives into employment and service delivery, to build trust and confidence in public services.
    • preventing and responding to violence against Indigenous women by delivering mandatory Indigenous cultural awareness training for police, and new correctional, probation and parole officers.

Community collaboration

Establish the Minister’s anti-racism consultation group

Where policies are developed without the voices of Indigenous and racialized people, systemic barriers may result. This leads to disparity for some, and poor public policy and services for all.

We will establish a forum to give a diverse set of community and business representatives a voice to engage with government leaders and influence policies and programs. This group will be chaired by the Minister Responsible for Anti-Racism. As well, three groups will be focused to provide the Minister with ongoing advice on anti-Black racism, anti-Indigenous racism and Islamophobia. We will also continue to engage with Ontario’s Indigenous communities through existing leadership tables.

Hold an annual anti-racism conference

We cannot solve systemic racism alone, nor do we have all of the answers. We will hold an annual anti-racism conference starting in Fall 2017, bringing together researchers, community partners, experts and policy makers. The conference will help us to assess our anti-racism tools, strategies and frameworks, and provide the community experts and researchers an opportunity to share their perspectives and feedback.

Building on the work we’re doing

  • The Ministry of Housing will co-host a series of policy labs to learn from youth with lived experience of homelessness to inform next steps on addressing this issue. This diverse group of Indigenous, racialized and newcomer youth will help identify potential unique housing challenges for certain populations relating to race and discrimination.
  • The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport released a revised Sport Recognition Policy in August 2016 that requires Provincial Sport Organizations to have a harassment policy, an inclusion policy and a code of conduct that establishes a respectful environment that supports equal opportunities and prohibits discriminatory practices.
  • The Ministry of the Attorney General is developing cultural competency training in collaboration with Indigenous staff who work in the justice system to help increase knowledge of Indigenous people and their realities. The Elders’ Council is currently reviewing and providing advice on the curriculum.

Population-specific anti-racism initiatives

Research shows that Ontario’s Indigenous and Black populations are experiencing especially critical forms of systemic racism and inequitable outcomes. This was echoed at our community meetings. It is essential we address these disproportionalities, and the following three population-specific anti-racism initiatives are a start to this work.

Anti-Black Racism Strategy

The intergenerational impact of slavery and a long history of overt and ongoing systemic racism continues to shape poorer outcomes for Black people today. This is confirmed by numerous reports and years of research and consultation with community partners who have identified key areas of action to address anti-Black racism. At our community meetings, we also heard government must take steps to address anti-Black racism and improve outcomes for Black people in Ontario.

Ontario will develop an Anti-Black Racism Strategy which will be released in Fall 2017. This strategy will leverage partner ministries to identify baseline data and publicly report measures and targets that aim to reduce the:

  • over-representation of Black children and youth within the child welfare system
  • achievement gap between Black students and all students within the publicly-funded education system
  • disproportionate number of Black males involved in the youth justice and justice systems

Building brighter futures for Black youth

Black youth in Ontario continue to experience disproportionately negative outcomes, including unemployment, violence and a lack of opportunity. A targeted approach is urgently needed in order to change these consequences.

That’s why the Ministry of Children and Youth Services is introducing the Ontario Black Youth Action Plan (OBYAP). OBYAP will help Black children and youth access supports and opportunities close to home beginning summer 2017. The plan will provide opportunities for Black service providers, as well as community and youth leaders, to participate in, and co-create, programs supported by the provincial government.

Under OBYAP, the ministry will work with culturally focused service providers and their programs. The plan will increase access for Black children, youth and families to mental health supports, supportive adults and mentors, skills development programs, and family supports.

OBYAP — alongside other ministries’ systemic initiatives — will contribute to the goal of eliminating outcomes disparities in schooling, post-secondary education and employment within ten years.

The plan is focused in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area — with targeted investments for Windsor and Ottawa — and will address identified needs of Black children and youth in family wellbeing, skills and career development, youth emotional and social wellness and justice system prevention.

It will use a Collective Impact approach to align organizations and sectors towards shared outcomes.

OBYAP will provide supports to an estimated 10,000 Black children and youth per year, helping to eliminate suspensions, improve parenting skills, and increase applications to postsecondary education and employment opportunities.

The plan is the first big step towards changing the trajectory of the Black community, fostering and building a new generation of leaders in Ontario.

It is the Black community which is the focus. It is Blacks who are being shot, it is Black youth that are unemployed in excessive numbers, it is Black students who are being inappropriately streamed in schools, it is Black kids who are disproportionately dropping-out, it is housing communities with large concentrations of Black residents where the sense of vulnerability and disadvantage is most acute, it is Black employees, professional and non-professional, on whom the doors of upward equity slam shut. Just as the soothing balm of ‘multiculturalism’ cannot mask racism, so racism cannot mask its primary target… Government initiatives must come soon, and they must be pretty fundamental.

Stephen Lewis, Advisor on Race Relations, in his report to the Premier of Ontario, 1992

Indigenous-focused anti-racism strategy

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada calls on government to close the gaps in child welfare, education, health, employment and incarceration rates and report publicly on progress.

In response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the province released The Journey Together: Ontario’s Commitment to Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples in May 2016. It sets out Ontario’s commitment to address the ongoing impacts of Canada legacy of residential schools and other devastating colonial policies, remove barriers, support Indigenous culture and reconcile relationships with Indigenous peoples.

As part of its commitment, the Anti-Racism Directorate in partnership with the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation and other ministries will work with First Nation, Métis and Inuit leaders, elders, youth and communities to develop an Indigenous-focused anti-racism strategy. This strategy will combat racism experienced by Indigenous communities and people, and include, among other elements, a public education and awareness campaign, youth-leading-youth program and a professional training toolkit.

It was the government that created the residential school systems and it took away our ability to parent. It created an incredible amount of social dysfunction chaos, and it’s the province that manages, administers the child welfare program. It doesn’t acknowledge or recognize that it was done. It criminalizes the parents and takes away their children, but it doesn’t work to teach them the ability to parent. It doesn’t give them that opportunity. And that needs to change, too.

Anti-Racism Directorate public meeting, Thunder Bay — Nov 26, 2016

As part of the Indigenous-focused anti-racism strategy, the youth-leading-youth program will support Indigenous youth to lead and develop interactive workshops in schools and communities to build awareness among non-Indigenous youth on the impacts of racism, biases and stereotypes and the importance of respectful relationships and dialogue. The program will be informed and delivered by Indigenous youth across the province.

A second anti-racism program being supported by the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation is the development of a Professional Anti-Racism Training Toolkit to be used as the basis for self-awareness training within professional schools, organizations and post-secondary institutions across Ontario. The toolkit will focus on building self-reflection and recognizing biases that can impact how professionals provide their services to Indigenous peoples. The toolkit will be directly informed by Indigenous perspectives and will be relevant across professional sectors, including child welfare, justice, health, education and other social services.

As part of the Indigenous-focused anti-racism strategy, the province will also work with Indigenous people and communities through established tables to identify priorities to reduce disparities.

How many young Black people have been shot or stabbed and Indigenous people murdered or missing? We need to figure out how to tell them that their lives matter.

Anti-Racism Directorate public meeting, Mississauga — Sept 27, 2016

Ontario Public Service Anti-Racism Strategy

Over the course of our public meetings in 2016, we heard about the disparities that exist within the Ontario Public Service (OPS). We heard that Indigenous, Black and other racialized employees are facing barriers and do not feel represented.

As one of the province’s largest employers, the Ontario Public Service has a responsibility to lead by example and to make every effort to drive innovation and excellence in public policy development and service delivery. That is why we are implementing an OPS Anti-Racism Strategy.

A strategy for the OPS will be evidence-based and will be informed by engagement, demographic and program data. It will increase employee awareness and sensitivity to systemic racism. It also will develop and implement tools, tactics and targets to combat racism. Progress on the work will be tracked and measured.

Together, these actions will address systemic racism head-on. They will contribute to an inclusive, respectful and collaborative workplace — one in which every employee has a voice and is encouraged to contribute.

A lot went into government because they wanted to make a change. And they are afraid to speak out. They’re afraid that it’s going to be a career-limiting move, because what happens is that you become targeted. What happens is that you become marginalized. What happens is that you are characterized as the aggressor, as the problem.

Anti-Racism Directorate public meeting, Scarborough — Oct 5, 2016

Indigenous cultural competency training

The government is implementing mandatory Indigenous cultural competency and anti-racism training for every employee in the Ontario Public Service. The training will include topics such as terminology, diversity, aspects of colonial history such as residential schools and Indian hospitals, and contexts for understanding social disparities and inequities. It will also include a focus on violence against Indigenous women.

And the work continues

Ontario’s anti-racism strategic plan is the start of change. History that goes back hundreds of years resulted in systemic racism that impacts Indigenous and racialized people today, and change won’t happen overnight. The Plan is government’s roadmap to get to racial equity and better public services for all, and we’ll be tracking our progress every step of the way.

It reflects what we have heard and carves a foundational path for government action. In the next three years, we will deepen our understanding of systemic racism with race-based data and stronger community collaboration. We will develop tools and methods to intervene before unconscious biases influence government decision-making and impact the people of Ontario.

The plan reflects what we have heard and carves a foundational path for government action.

We will strive to embed anti-racism through legislation and remain accountable on all the initiatives in this plan. A Better Way Forward: Ontario’s anti-racism strategic plan is built on an evidence-based approach and signals the importance of a collective effort. To achieve better outcomes for all, we will work across government and its institutions, across sectors and individual communities.

This plan is the continuation of Ontario’s anti-racism approach.


Anti-Black racism
Anti-Black racism is prejudice, attitudes, beliefs, stereotyping and discrimination that is directed at people of African descent and is rooted in their unique history and experience of enslavement. Anti-Black racism is deeply entrenched in Canadian institutions, policies and practices, such that anti-Black racism is either functionally normalized or rendered invisible to the larger white society. Anti-Black racism is manifested in the legacy of the current social, economic, and political marginalization of African Canadians in society such as the lack of opportunities, lower socio-economic status, higher unemployment, significant poverty rates and overrepresentation in the criminal justice system. (African Canadian Legal Clinic).
Latent or overt hostility or hatred directed towards, or discrimination against individual Jewish people or the Jewish people for reasons connected to their religion, ethnicity, and their cultural, historical, intellectual and religious heritage. (Canadian Race Relations Foundation).
Collective impact
An approach to tackling deeply entrenched, complex social problems defined by collaboration across government and community. It is based on a recognition that achieving lasting social change such as eradicating racial inequities within any one system (e.g., child welfare, justice, education, etc.) requires addressing interlocking and interdependent systems beyond it.
Colonialism is a practice of domination, which involves the subjugation of one people to another. Settler colonialism — such as in the case of Canada — is the unique process where the colonizing population does not leave the territory, asserts ongoing sovereignty to the land, actively seeks to assimilate the Indigenous populations and extinguish their cultures, traditions and ties to the land.
Disaggregated data
In the context of race-based data, this means breaking down composite ("aggregate") categories such as “visible minority" into component parts, such as Black, Chinese, Arab etc.
Refers to the unequal outcomes of one group as compared to another.
Refers to the overrepresentation of a particular group of people in a particular program or system as compared to their representation in the general population.
It means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences. These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies. This can also include differences that are entirely personal, such as personality, style, and ability.
Hate crime
The Criminal Code of Canada says a hate crime is a crime committed against an entire group of people who are targeted for who they are. It includes promoting hatred against a group based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or any other similar factor.
Means ‘native to the area.’ Currently the preferred collective name for the original people within Canada and their descendants. This includes First Nations (status and non-status), Métis and Inuit.
Intergenerational trauma
Intergenerational trauma is usually seen within a family in which the parents or grandparents were traumatized, and each generation of that family continues to experience trauma in some form. Direct survivors of these experiences often transmit the trauma to later generations when they don’t recognize or have the opportunity to address their issues. Over the course of time these behaviours, often destructive, become normalized within the family and their community, leading to the next generation suffering the same problems. (Kevin Berube, Director of Mental Health and Addictions at Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre).
Acknowledges the ways in which people’s lives are shaped by their multiple and overlapping identities and social locations, which, together, can produce a unique and distinct experience for that individual or group, for example, creating additional barriers or opportunities. In the context of race, this means recognizing the ways in which peoples experiences of racism or privilege, including within any one racialized group, may differ and vary depending on the individual’s or group’s additional overlapping (or “intersecting”) social identities, such as ethnicity, Indigenous identification, experiences with colonialism, religion, gender, citizenship, socio-economic status or sexual orientation.
Includes racism, stereotypes, prejudice, fear or acts of hostility directed towards individual Muslims or followers of Islam in general. In addition to individual acts of intolerance and racial profiling, Islamophobia can lead to viewing and treating Muslims as a greater security threat on an institutional, systemic and societal level. (Ontario Human Rights Commission, Policy on Preventing Discrimination Based on Creed).
Refers to a long-term, structural process of systemic discrimination that creates a class of disadvantaged minorities. These groups become permanently confined to the margins of society; their status is continually reproduced because of the various dimensions of exclusion particularly in the labour market, but also from full and meaningful participation in society.
Is the existence and state recognition of multiple cultural traditions within a single country. In 1971, Canada was the first country in the world to adopt multiculturalism as an official policy. By so doing, Canada affirmed the value and dignity of all Canadian citizens respectful of their ethnic, linguistic and religious differences. The 1971 Multiculturalism Policy of Canada also confirmed the rights of Indigenous peoples and the status of Canada’s two official languages.
Is a term used to classify people into groups based principally on physical traits (phenotype) such as skin colour. Racial categories are not based on science or biology but on differences that society has chosen to emphasize, with significant consequences for people’s lives. Racial categories may vary over time and place, and can overlap with ethnic, cultural or religious groupings.
“A process of delineation of group boundaries and of allocation of persons within those boundaries by primary reference to (supposedly) inherent and/or biological (usually phenotypical) characteristics.” Miles, Robert. (1982). Racism and Migrant Labour: A Critical Text. London: Routledge.
Racial equity
Refers to the systemic fair treatment of all people that results in equitable opportunities and outcomes for everyone.
Racialized (person)
Often used to stand in for “visible minority,” this more fluid term acknowledges that race is a social construction that can change over time and place. It can be applied to people who have racial meanings attributed to them as a group in ways that negatively impact their social, political, and economic life, e.g., Black, Asian, Muslim and Roma.
Refers to ideas or practices that establish, maintain or perpetuate the racial superiority or dominance of one group over another.
Social inclusion
Is based on notions of belonging, acceptance and recognition and entails the realization of full and equal participation in economic, social, cultural and political institutions. It is about recognizing and valuing diversity; it is about engendering feelings of belonging by increasing social equality and the participation of diverse and disadvantaged populations.
Systemic racism
When institutions or systems create or maintain racial inequity, often as a result of hidden institutional biases in policies, practices and procedures that privilege some groups and disadvantage others.


Review of the Roots of Youth Violence report (2008)

Paying the Price: The Human Cost of Racial Profiling (Ontario Human Rights Commission, 2003)

Stephen Lewis Report on Race Relations in Ontario (1992)

The Report of the Commission on Systemic Racism in the Ontario Criminal Justice System (1995)

Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (1996)

Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Residential Schools Final Report (2015)

Policy and Guidelines on Racism and Racial Discrimination (Ontario Human Rights Commission, 2005, rev. 2009)

Policy on Preventing Discrimination Based on Creed (Ontario Human Rights Commission, 2015)

Sixth Periodic Report of Canada on the Implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (2016)

One Vision, One Voice (Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies, 2016)