Inclusive language guidelines


The glossary of terms below is a point of reference but is not meant to be exhaustive or definitive. Language evolves and appropriate terminology changes as Canadian culture and society shifts. As much as using the ‘right’ terms or words is something we all work towards, it is equally important to foster a climate of open, effective communication and demonstrate a willingness to learn.

Whenever possible, the preferred terms or phrases of the person or group of people should be respected, and the difference between respectful and appropriate language by those belonging to a group (in-group) and those who don’t belong (out-group) respected. As language is constantly evolving, it may be necessary to seek advice or more information for situations that are unclear.

Generally, descriptors that refer to personal attributes such as race, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age, for example, tend to over-emphasize and draw undue attention to the distinguishing attribute. Avoid the use of such descriptors unless they are relevant and valid.