This glossary is a non-exhaustive and an evolutive tool developed by La Centrale galerie Powerhouse that is meant to bring its community together and assure that the discussions initiated by and through its activities are supported by a shared understanding. Therefore, La Centrale invites you to submit words, definitions and/or modifications that appear relevant in the context of its activities and mandate to the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
We wish to acknowledge that La Centrale galerie Powerhouse is located on unceded indigenous land known by the names of Tiohtià:ke to the Haudenosaunee and Mooniyang to the Anishinaabeg. We recognize the Kanien’kehá:ka nation as the custodians of the lands and water. We wish to honour the past and its connections to the present and the future, and to respect our ongoing relationships with the many communities of Montreal.
This glossary is part of an ongoing process of recognition and awareness of the history and nefarious effects of colonialism, the structures from which continue to hold power in our society to this day.
Ally: An individual actively “disrupting oppressive spaces by educating others on the realities and histories of marginalized people.” It encompasses the concrete actions, be they collective, educative or relational, that one takes to show their support and fight alongside minorities and marginalized communities. [Ally Tool Kit]
Allochthon/Non-native: “Allochthon, noun and adjective, is originally a geological term which designates a structural formation which does not have an in situ origin. The term is the antonym of native. From the 1990s, the term allochthon was sometimes used in sociology or in political vocabulary to replace expressions of the type ‘resulting from immigration’ or ‘of foreign origin’. However, this use of the term is often frowned upon because of the discriminatory connotations associated with it. Depending on the country and territory, the definitions of the term Allochthon are adapted to the particular dynamics of groups in each geopolitical area. The concept thus often refers to a very narrow sense of the term. In Canada, for example, a distinction is sometimes made between people of Amerindian or Inuit origin, who are called Aboriginals, and people of other origins, called non-natives. This usage is often criticized because of the risk of confusion between this particular meaning and the primary meaning of the term, still in use.” [Translated from the Office québécois de la langue française]
Indigenous & Aboriginal: “These are umbrella terms to include First Nations, Métis, and Inuit in Canada. Both terms are used internationally to define the original habitants of colonized countries, with Indigenous being the most favoured term. However, it is always respectful to be specific about the Nation you are referring to; use the term that they use to self-identify.” [Ally Tool Kit]
AMAB and AFAB: These acronyms, which stand for “assigned male at birth” and “assigned female at birth” respectively, are often used by trans, intersex, non-binary and gender-non-conforming people when they need to describe what sex they were assigned at birth. While sex and gender are separate categories, they are often conflated to be the same thing, where AMAB people are assumed to be boys/men and AFAB people are assumed to be girls/women. “While AFAB or AMAB may be useful for describing different trans or non-binary experiences (like whether or not someone experiences/has experienced male privilege), they are generally not considered identities in and of themselves. Calling a transman “AFAB,” for example, erases his identity as [a] man. Instead, use a person’s requested pronouns and self-description.” [American Library Association]
Historical amnesia: The voluntary omission, erasure or denial of moments and aspects of history inconvenient for the politics of authority groups in place. It especially concerns the colonial violence inflicted on Indigenous peoples, people of colour, and social minority communities. It entails the creation and diffusion of a historically false narrative with intentional gaps, valorizing political and socio-cultural white supremacy and participating in the dehumanizing and infantilization of the aforementioned racialized groups by denying the violences enacted against people from racialized communities.
Self-determination: The process by which nations make their own political, economical, social, and cultural decisions without external pressures to be in total control of their own futures. This concept concerns mainly Indigenous communities and characterizes their everyday fight in reclaiming their basic rights and opposing the “Indian Act” still affecting their lives and activities. It can also refer to one’s capability and ability to make free choices regarding their actions and statements, without external control. [Indian Act vs Self-Determination]
BIPOC: Acronym used predominantly in North America referring to racialized individuals and communities standing for Black, Indigenous and People(s) of Colour. Other variations may include BIMPOC (Black, Indigenous, Multiracial, People(s) of Colour) BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnics, used primarily in the United Kingdom), among others. It is sometimes paired with terms related to gender and sexuality where the intersections of identities are important, such as QTIBIPOC (Queer, Trans, Intersex, Black, Indigenous, People(s) of Colour) or QTIBIMPOC (Queer, Trans, Intersex, Black, Indigenous, Multiracial, People(s) of Colour). [Simon Fraser University]
Two-spirit : “Two-Spirit is an umbrella term that includes gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans/gender non-conforming identities. It is also what the “2S” stands for in LGBTQ2S; it’s a person who identifies as having a spirit that is both masculine and feminine.” It is a term that was adopted by several communities in the early 1990s at a meeting in Winnipeg. “It is used by some Indigenous people to describe their sexual, gender and/or spiritual identity. Only Indigenous people can identify as being two-spirit, since being two-spirit came with a specific role within Indigenous communities. ” [Ally Tool Kit]
Ableism: “[Ableism] may be defined as a belief system, analogous to racism, sexism or ageism, that sees persons with disabilities as being less worthy of respect and consideration, less able to contribute and participate, or of less inherent value than others. Ableism may be conscious or unconscious, and may be embedded in institutions, systems or the broader culture of a society. It can limit the opportunities of persons with disabilities and reduce their inclusion in the life of their communities. Ableist attitudes are often based on the view that disability is an “anomaly to normalcy,” rather than an inherent and expected variation in the human condition. Ableism may also be expressed in ongoing paternalistic and patronizing behaviour toward people with disabilities.” [Ontario Human Rights Commission]
Cisgender: (sometimes cissexual, often abbreviated to simply ‘cis’) is a term for people whose gender identity matches their sex assigned at birth. For example, someone who identifies as a woman and was assigned female at birth is a cisgender woman.
Colonialism: The policy or practice of domination, subjugation of people, land, and/or resources forcibly acquired by a foreign state.
Colonization: The occupation and settlement of a foreign territory by a group or nation with the goal of exploiting its resources. This often also involves establishing control over, exploiting and/or committing genocide against peoples native to the region and those forcibly displaced in the colonial pursuit.
Anti-racist accomplice: Someone who “works within a system and ‘directly challenges institutionalized/systemic racism, colonization, and white supremacy by blocking or impeding racist people, policies and structures’.” [Ally Tool Kit]
Co-resistor: Someone who stands with oppressed minorities and communities, opposing oppressive forces while “establishing relationships and being deeply involved within a community that informs how one listens critically, understands an issue and influences the way they go about disrupting institutions and systemic systems.” [Ally Tool Kit]
Culture: “Refers to the knowledge, experience, beliefs, values, attitudes, meanings, hierarchies, religion, notions of time, roles, spatial relations, concepts of the universe, and material objects and possessions acquired by a group of people in the course of generations through individual and group striving. Culture is the knowledge shared by a group of people [and its communication]. It is the way of life of a group of people--the behaviors, beliefs, values, and symbols that they accept, generally without thinking about them, and that are passed along by communication and imitation from one generation to the next. Culture is a collective programming of the mind that distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another.” [Dismantling Racism Works]
Decolonization: Process by which a subjugated nation or country reclaims its independence from the colonizing state. It also defines a rejection of Euro-American essentialist norms and beliefs in favour of traditional Indigenous knowledge systems and their social and legal structures. Self-determination as well as cultural and territorial repatriation are key issues in a decolonizing process.
Equity: “The effort to provide different levels of support based on an individual’s or group’s needs in order to achieve fairness in outcomes. Working to achieve equity acknowledges unequal starting places and the need to correct the imbalance.” Often discussed in relation to equality, which refers to providing the same access to everyone, equity involves acknowledging the barriers faced by different people or groups and providing different levels of accomodation accordingly. [Center for Study of Social Policy]
Feminisms: If feminisms are movements and philosophical ideas that aim to define and promote political, economic, cultural, social and legal equality, many definitions and understandings of the term exist and are all valid. However, La Centrale excludes from this common understanding the views that intentionally exclude certain groups from their struggles, such as Trans-exclusive Radical Feminism (TERF) and Sexwork Exclusionary Radical Feminism (SWERF), and feminisms taking into account only white women (white feminism).
Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminisms (TERF): Feminisms that exclude trans women from women’s spaces and/or oppose transgender rights. Trans-exclusionary radical feminists may refer to themselves as “gender critical” rather than trans-exclusionary, and/or proclaim a need for spaces or services exclusively for AFAB (assigned-female at birth) people. [Ada X]
Sex Worker Exclusionary Radical Feminism (SWERF): Feminisms that oppose sex work in every situation, believing that it is ultimately oppressive. [Ada X]
White feminism : “Feminisms that focus solely on the oppression of white women while failing to address distinct forms of oppression faced by women [and people of colour]. White feminism involves the historical and continued centering of white experience and feelings.” [Ada X]
Gender fluidity: Adjective defining an individual whose gender identity is changing and/or unclassifiable. [translated from COCo]
Heteronormativity: «[A] system of norms and beliefs that reinforces the imposition of heterosexuality as the only legitimate sexuality or lifestyle,» or when a social organization recognizes heterosexuality as a standard and norm. [translated from COCo]
Homophobia: Prejudice, hatred and/or fear directed towards homosexuals or homosexual activities, values, practices, and behaviours. [COCo]
Inclusivity: The promotion and petition for the integration of people from traditionally underrepresented communities into activities, spaces, institutions, etc where they wish to participate. However, speaking on feminism in France, Amandine Gay has stated : «This «inclusive» feminism aims to make a place for the «Others», those who do not belong to the French, heteronormative and white norm. Inclusivity is therefore a notion that is almost the opposite of the original idea, since the interdependence of oppressions presupposes the absence of a hierarchy and therefore the absence of a centre whose role would be to include/integrate minorities.» [Amandine Gay, translated from the preface to Ne suis-je pas une femme: femmes noires et féminisme by bell hooks]
Gender Identity: Gender identity is self-determined, meaning that a person decides for themselves what their gender identity is. The term «describes the psychological recognition of oneself as being a member of a certain gender. Gender identity is determined by a person’s internal perceptions; it is separate from physical sex.» [TransWhat?]
Turtle Island: “This is the name given to North America by some Indigenous Peoples, such as the Iroquois, Anishinaabeg, and other Northeastern nations. The term originates from their various creation stories.” [Ally Tool Kit]
Intersectionality: A tool that highlights how different systems of oppression articulate, support and reinforce each other. In 1989, Kimberlé Crenshaw, inspired by a long African American feminist tradition, focuses on how the struggle of African American women placed them in a specific position: Black people are invisible in feminist issues and women are invisible in racial equality movements. This involves considering all aspects of a person’s identity (class, gender, disability, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, etc.). In this sense, intersectionality rejects the hierarchization of discriminatory systems and the homogenization and categorization of life experiences. [Translated from Ligue des Droits]
LGBTQQIP2SAA: An acronym which stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, queer, intersex, pansexual, two-spirit (2S), androgynous and asexual.
Non-binary: “Used to challenge the idea that there are only two genders (i.e., male and female). Non-binary folks [...] use this term to signal that their gender-identity and/or gender-expression does not align with a binary understanding of gender, regardless of the biological sex they were assigned at birth.” [Simon Fraser University]
Neocolonialism: Term that characterizes a situation of real, but not official, dependence. It defines the state of economic, cultural, social, political and scientific dependence of a colony, a territory, or a newly independent community on the colonial power. Despite its official independence, the former colonial state maintains a relationship of domination. [translated from : Perspective Monde - Université de Sherbrooke]
Neurodiversity: defines the range of differences in individuals’ behaviours and intellectual abilities. Often considered as characterizing individuals who might have difficulties with a normalized education, for example. It underlines the large spectrum of individuals and the risks and limitations of having standardized systems.
Neurotypical: characterizes individuals of typical developmental, intellectual, and emotional abilities. It encompasses those who do not display signs of nor have been diagnosed with autism, attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder, or other cognitive disabilities.
Patriarchy: A term that defines a system of social organization where men are granted a position of social, economic, political and legal power, and therefore hold a supreme and universal authority. This principle is based on the explicit exclusion of women and children, kept in a position of dependence. The notion of a patriarchal society is challenged and criticized in favour of the establishment of a fair and egalitarian mode of social organization.
White Privilege: Inherent advantages possessed by white individuals, or those who are assumed to be white (this is known as ‘white passing’.) Some advantages are more obvious than others but all are systematic and are attributed according to the individual’s skin colour. It does not mean that white people may not face other types of oppression, but that the colour of their skin does not present an additional barrier in the pursuit of their rights and freedoms.
Queer: The term queer is used to mean that a person does not identify with heteronormative and cisnormative postulates, that is, they may not consider themselves heterosexual or cisgender, which appears to be the norm in many societies. A person might use the term queer to talk about their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, while choosing not to define themselves according to labels or categories.
Racism: “Racism is prejudice plus power; anyone of any race can have/exhibit racial prejudice, but in North America, white people have the institutional power, therefore Racism is a systematized discrimination or antagonism directed against people of color based on the belief that whiteness is superior. It is insidious, systemic, devastating, and integral to understanding” the history of North America and the everyday experiences of people living on this continent. “Non-white folks can be agents of racism as well (particularly when acting as representatives of white-dominated systems, such as higher education) by perpetuating the notion of white superiority and using it to discriminate against other people of color.” [Simmons University]
Systemic racism: A system of racial oppression which supports prejudice towards a person or group of people because of their race (or perceived race) which are reinforced by systems of power which produce inequalities in working conditions and opportunities, access and quality of healthcare, legal systems and education. This term recognizes that racism is not exclusively an interpersonal occurrence that takes place at the individual level, but that it is an integral part of the social, cultural, economic and political institutions of society. [translated from Ligues des droits - Racisme and Outil d’éducation sur le racisme]
White supremacy: Ideology prevailing the supremacy of Caucasians’ cultural values and norms. This system is rooted and declined in the language, beliefs, structures and social institutions built by these societies. It is important to note, however, that many inequalities sustained by white supremacy are based on unconscious biases socially validated and approved and not on conscious behaviours and acts based on aversion and hostility for different cultures.
Transgender: Denoting someone whose gender identity does not correspond to the gender assigned at their birth.
Tokenism: Tokenism is the practice of making only symbolic efforts to be inclusive of underrepresented groups in order to avoid accusations of discrimination and to give the illusion of equity. This practice takes place mostly in specific social systems (work, school, television, cinema etc.) and has serious consequences for the person used as a token.
Institutional violence: «Any action committed in or by the institution or lack of attention that causes the person unnecessary physical, psychological suffering and/or hinders their further development.» Institutional violence is manifested by the use of displays of power in or by institutions that undermine the integrity of an individual or group of people. The institutions implied here are established social structures, whether physical (school) or conventional (social values and norms shared and implemented by socio-cultural, economic and political systems). This term defines the biases, abuses and failures of a society’s institutional system. [translated from Marielle Vicet - Violences Institutionnelles]