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The definition of diversity is, basically, being different.

Everyone is different. No two people are the same. What is common among all people is that no one is exactly alike.

Sometimes, people are harassed, alienated, discriminated against and/or become targets of physical and emotional 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.

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. Each province and territory has different laws in place to protect people who have experienced some form of discrimination.

In Canada, diversity and multiculturalism is generally valued. While there are still groups of people who have to deal with violence and unfair treatment, certain steps have been taken to ensure that discriminatory attitudes aren’t tolerated. For example, employment equity has greatly improved; yet, social attitudes still prevent certain 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.



Racism generally means the “hatred” or “fear” of another race. This means that sometimes some people will exclude people from activities or events simply because they are of another race. In some cases, they will be treated very unfairly (e.g.missing out on opportunities).


Ageism refers to the unfair treatment people receive because of their age. Elderly people, for example, might be treated like children (babied) because of their old age, and often their children won’t want them to do things on their own. Younger people, like teenagers, are discriminated against because of their age in many cases – like being watched in a clothing store because the sales associate believes the teenager may steal something.


GLBTQ stands for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, two-spirited, questioning and queer.

  • To be gay means to be attracted to and/or have romantic feelings for someone of the same sex.
  • Lesbian is the term used to describe women who are attracted to other women.
  • Bisexual refers to people who are attracted to both genders.
  • To be transgender is to be at odds with the gender assigned at birth based on the biological sex.
  • To be questioning means a person is unsure and/or questioning their sexual orientation/identity and/or gender.
  • Queer can be used to describe anyone who is not “straight” or heterosexual.


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 discrimination and any act of vandalism on the property belonging to a cultural or religious group for the sake of discrimination. Section 718.2 of the Criminal Code allows a judge to impose longer sentences for crimes motivated by hate (Criminal Code).

The Canadian Human Rights Act (passed in 1977) ensures that everyone is allowed to the same freedoms and opportunities and protects them from discrimination in any form, regardless of the time or place.

What You Can Do


  • If someone comes out to you, do not rush the process of understanding and accepting the person who comes out to you. Allow the person to talk about their feelings. 
  • Be supportive. Be there for those who might be having a harder time fitting into the community.
  • Tell friends that discriminatory jokes are not acceptable.
  • Take a personal stand and vow to never engage in discriminatory behavior.
  • Tell someone you trust and can confide in for help and advice.
  • Remember that there is always support available to you – no matter what issue you are facing.


  • Be aware of your own prejudices.
  • Educate yourself and others; get to know different people and accept them for who they are and the choices they make.
  • If someone comes out to you, remember that they are still who they were the day before; now you just know more about their personal life.
  • If you or a young person is continually harassed and/or feel as though they might be in danger, talk to your local police service.


  • If you’re still figuring out who you are, remember that it is quite natural to be confused about your sexuality when growing up, so take your time.
  • Take steps to file claims or formal complaints about incidents of discrimination (to your principal, the police etc.).
  • Don't speak negatively about others; everyone is unique in their own way.  

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.