The definition of diversity is, basically, being different.
We are all different. No two people are the same. What is common among all people is that none of us are exactly alike.
Sometimes, people are harassed, alienated, discriminated against and/or become targets of physical violence because of something that is unique about them.
- Some people are scared of other people or things that are different than them, were raised to believe they are superior, and/or are ignorant of the experiences of those around them. In all cases, when someone acts on these fears or beliefs, they are hurting someone else.
- In Canada, diversity and multiculturalism is valued. While there are still groups of people who face oppression and violence, great strides have been made to remedy and eliminate old, discriminatory attitudes of the past. For example, while employment equity has greatly improved, social attitudes still prevent many groups of people from being accepted everywhere.
- We all have different backgrounds, histories, beliefs and biases and we can all benefit from each other’s unique experiences.
Canadians are not of any one cultural background or heritage. Rather, Canadians today reflect a vast diversity of cultural heritages and backgrounds. This multicultural diversity is a result of centuries of immigration where uniqueness was encouraged and no one way to live is enforced.
GLBTQ stands for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Two-Spirited, Questioning and Queer. It replaces outdated terms like homosexual and is more inclusive of different peoples’ experiences and lives. These terms are used to identify the diverse experiences of people with different sexual orientations.
Discrimination is any act, thought, motivation, distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on another person’s gender, race, color, descent, sexual preference, nationality, age, ability (both physical and mental), social class, origins, etc.
In Canada, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is in place to try to prevent people from being discriminated against. The charter dictates that no one should be treated differently based on race, national or ethnic origin, sex, sexual orientation, level of ability or age.
If anyone commits a crime against someone because of their race, national or ethnic origin, sex, sexual orientation, level of ability or age, it is considered a hate crime. A person can be punished more severely for hate crimes. Some examples of hate crimes are hate propaganda (promoting violence towards minorities through media), encouraging hatred against a group of people, assault based on prejudice and any act of vandalism on the property belonging to a cultural or religious group for the sake of discrimination.
What you can do
Feeling confused? Think you may have been discriminated against?
- Tell someone you trust and can confide in for help and advice.
- Know your rights – check the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Human Rights Act and your school/work/community center policies.
- Any act of discrimination should be reported. If you are continually harassed and/or feel that you are in danger, contact your local police service.
You can also contact the Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868. It’s a toll-free, bilingual and anonymous phone line where you can speak to someone if you’re having problems or feel like you’re being discriminated against.