Key Concepts & Terms

Allyship is a life-long process of building supportive associations and relationships based on trust, consistency and accountability with marginalized individuals and groups. An ally actively promotes and aspires to advance a culture of inclusion through intentional, positive and conscious efforts. The works and efforts must be recognized by those with whom you are seeking to ally.


Anti-racism is the practice of identifying, challenging, preventing, eliminating and changing the values, structures, policies, programs, practices and behaviours that perpetuate racism. It is more than just being “not racist”.

An anti-racist is someone who is supporting an antiracist policy through actions or expressing antiracist ideas. This includes the expression of ideas that racial groups are equals and none needs developing, and supporting policies that reduce racial inequity.

(Source: Ibram X. Kendi, How To Be An Antiracist, Random House, 2019.)

BIPOC/IBPOC are acronyms for black, Indigenous, and people of colour. The acronym builds on the centuries-old “people of colour” found in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1796. Letters for black and indigenous were included to be more inclusive and to recognize that the history of black and Indigenous people requires distinction from people of colour.


Bystander Effect or Bystander Apathy describes the inhibiting influence of the presence of others on a person’s willingness to help someone in need. The presence of others tends to diffuse individual sense of responsibility to intervene.

Calling In is when there is an opportunity to explore deeper and find a mutual understanding across difference allows us to learn more and encourage shifts in behaviour.

Calling Out is appropriate when we need to interrupt to prevent further harm to let someone know that their words or actions are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

Colonialism is a policy and practice of control by one people or power over other peoples or areas with the aim of economic exploitation, social dominance and assimilation often resulting in the marginalization of the original group, a loss of self-determination and the destruction of their culture, practices, and social order.

Conflict Engagement refers to any activities meant to address conflict. Approaches that view conflict as something negative, unwanted, and harmful can lead to ignoring the reality of conflict and its root causes. Instead, Conflict Engagement aims to reframe our approach to conflict in a more positive way. Conflict Engagement sees conflict as arising from failures to communicate authentically and productively, or from situations where systems and structures fail to support individuals. Learn More

Constructive Feedback is providing useful, specific, issue-focused comments and suggestions based on observed behaviours that contribute to a positive outcome, a better process, or improved behaviours. Feedback should be authentic and honest but also sensitive and should provide encouragement, support, corrective measures and direction to the person receiving the feedback.

Cultural Humility is a process of self-reflection to understand personal and systemic biases and to develop and maintain respectful processes and relationships based on mutual trust. Cultural humility involves humbly acknowledging oneself as a learner when it comes to understanding another’s experience.

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Cultural Safety is an outcome based on respectful engagement that recognizes and strives to address power imbalances inherent in the healthcare system. It results in an environment free of racism and discrimination, where people feel safe when receiving health care

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Diversity refers to differences in the lived experiences and perspectives of people. Each person’s unique combination of differences contributes to their experiences in ways that can be both positive and negative. Diversity is not a spectrum or a measure. One person cannot be more diverse than another. Diversity is created when people who are different from one another come together, and includes everyone in the room.


Emotional Intelligence is the capacity to be aware of, control, and express emotions to reduce stress and to handle interpersonal relationships empathically and effectively. Emotional intelligence is comprised of self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. Learn More

Equity, in the university context, requires the creation of opportunities for historically, persistently, or systemically marginalized populations of students, staff, and faculty to have equal access to education, programs, and growth opportunities that are capable of closing achievement gaps. This requires recognizing that not everyone is starting from the same place or history, and that deliberate measures to remove barriers to opportunities may be needed to ensure fair processes and outcomes”.


Inclusion is an active, intentional, and continuous process to address inequities in power and privilege, and build a respectful and diverse community that ensures welcoming spaces and opportunities to flourish for all.


Inclusive Excellence (IE) is a systems-wide approach to equity, diversity and inclusion. IE states that true excellence in an institution is unattainable without inclusion – and in fact, diversity and inclusion are fundamental to excellence. It moves away from historical approaches to diversity that focused on numbers and representation. Instead, IE helps us think about the institution as a vibrant community that can create excellence by embedding diversity throughout the institution.

The Inclusive Excellence (IE) model is grounded in work from the American Association of Colleges & Universities (AAC&U).30 Universities Canada adopted Inclusive Excellence principles in 2017. IE appears as a key strategy in Shaping UBC’s Next Century: 2018-2028 Strategic Plan


Intersectionality recognizes that social identities or categorizations (such as race, class, disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity) create overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.
The term was coined by lawyer, civil rights advocate, and critical race theory scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw to describe the “various ways in which race and gender intersect in shaping structural and political aspects of violence against women of color”.

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Race refers to the categories into which society places individuals on the basis of physical characteristics (such as skin color, hair type, facial form and eye shape). Though many believe that race is determined by biology, it is now widely accepted that this classification system was in fact created for social and political reasons. There are actually more genetic and biological differences within the racial groups defined by society than between different groups.

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Racism is the belief that a group of people are inferior based on the colour of their skin or due to the inferiority of their culture or spirituality. It leads to discriminatory behaviours and policies that oppress, ignore or treat racialized groups as ‘less than’ non-racialized groups.

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Systemic racism or institutional racism refers to the ways that whiteness and white superiority become embedded in the policies and processes of an institution, resulting in a system that advantages white people and disadvantages People of Colour.


Unconscious biases are social stereotypes about certain groups of people (positive or negative) that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness. Everyone holds unconscious beliefs about various social and identity groups, and these biases stem from one’s tendency to organize social worlds by categorizing.


Upstander or Active Bystander is someone who not only witnesses a situation but recognizes injustice and speaks up or steps in to disrupt, intervene, or provide support to the targeted person. Learn More

Upstander/Bystander Engagement provides tools and strategies to help people move from being passive bystanders to being empowered and active upstanders and allies who contribute to a change in the social acceptability of harassment, abuse, and racism. Upstander engagement teaches people how to intervene and take responsibility for calling in racist and other inappropriate behaviour. Learn More