Skip to main content

Key concepts

The concepts of equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI), and belonging, inform our conversations as we look to remove barriers, end discrimination and create better learning and working environments for everyone. While this language is widely used, the meaning of these concepts is not always agreed on.

Knowing that work under the EDI umbrella has not always led to accountable action and that our language will evolve over time, we offer the following descriptions as a starting place for UVic’s ongoing discussion and action tied to the Equity Action Plan (EAP).


“Inequity causes harm and we can’t be comfortable with another checkbox, for me equity is about uprooting systems of power and listening to the change that our community is telling us is long overdue.”

At UVic, advancing equity starts with recognizing the injustices that are created in and maintained by the systems and structures on our campus and their impacts on community members. Equity requires institutional action, including the direct allocation of resources and the creation of fair, accessible opportunities and supports that address the diverse needs of the campus community. The EAP will use creative solutions to redistribute power and eliminate intentional and unintentional barriers experienced by members of systemically and historically marginalized groups. 


“We need to know the diversity of our community to better serve them.”

Diversity is typically understood as the measurable representation or presence of differences in lived experience and intersections of identities (e.g. race, sexuality, age, gender, ability) within a group. At UVic, measuring diversity will help us better understand who makes up our campus community and who is missing or excluded. While we work to increase diversity, we understand that diversity without equity and inclusion is meaningless.


“Inclusion requires empathy and changing our ways of doing things so that no one feels the need to change who they are to be able to succeed here.”

At UVic, inclusion is the intentional and ongoing act of creating conditions where every community member can fulfill their potential and bring their authentic selves forward. Inclusion involves and benefits everyone. A measure of inclusion is whether systemically and historically marginalized individuals and groups share power in processes, activities and decisions.


“Only I get to determine if I belong here. It’s up to UVic to create the context for that connection to place and people to grow.” 

Belonging refers to an individual’s feeling of being safe and valued as one’s true self. Belonging is felt when there is a sense of agency, support, acceptance and being seen. At UVic, we hope that through our equity, diversity and inclusion work, we can ensure everyone experiences a sense of belonging, as being connected and respected parts of the university community.

Additional terms

Below is a list of terms in the EAP that, throughout engagement and drafting, community members sought clarity on. Like the key concepts above, these words hold various meanings. For the purpose of this plan, we offer these working descriptions that can be modified as our understanding evolves.


At UVic, we will strive to be accountable by practicing transparency and working to build relationships and trust. We understand that accountability must include a commitment to communication, to learning, to reflexivity, to receiving feedback and to action. As we go about advancing the goals of the Equity Action Plan, we must ensure our processes and our outcomes are considerate of equity.

We seek to be accountable to:

  • Broad impact/strategy - university activities work to advance the guiding statements set out by the UVic Strategic Plan (including the pledge to ʔetal nəwəl | ÁTOL,NEUEL) and the goals of the Equity Action Plan
  • UVic community – we work to dismantle barriers and build relationships with those most impacted by the actions set by the Equity Action Plan
  • Lateral/team - as we work to advance the Equity Action Plan, we are responsible to each other as a team of employees for applying our principles and values as consistently internally within our work with each other as they are externally, with the broader university community


Working together in strategic collaboration for mutually beneficial results. Co-construction prioritizes the involvement of the community or group most impacted and deepens relationships and understanding between all parties.

Cultural safety

Recognizing and challenging unequal power dynamics at all levels (individual, familial, community and societal). In a culturally safe environment, each person feels that their unique cultural background is respected, and they are free to be themselves without being judged, put on the spot or asked to speak for all members of their group. 

(Adapted from Pulling Together: A Guide for Curriculum Developers by Asma-na-hi Antoine, Rachel Mason, Roberta Mason, Sophia Palahicky and Carmen Rodriguez de France) 

Historically and systemically marginalized

Recognizing that various groups or individuals may have different relationships and preferences to commonly used terms such as: disadvantaged, disenfranchised or minoritized. In the EAP, “historically and systemically marginalized” is used to describe groups of people who face historic and/or ongoing barriers that contribute to inequities, which compound over time.

Some marginalized groups that have historically and systemically experienced these barriers include: Indigenous peoples, people of colour, women, gender non-binary individuals, LGBTQS2+ individuals, people with disabilities, immigrants and refugees, and people from lower socio-economic backgrounds and levels of education.

At UVic our current systems of policies, practices, culture, behaviours and beliefs reinforce these barriers throughout the institution.  

(Adapted from University of British Columbia's Equity and Inclusion Glossary of Terms and Beyond Inclusion: Equity in Public Engagement by Simon Fraser University’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue)

White supremacy

The idea (ideology) that white people and their ideas, thoughts, beliefs and actions are superior to people of colour and their ideas, thoughts, beliefs and actions. While most people associate white supremacy with extremist groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the neo-Nazis, white supremacy is ever present in our institutional and cultural assumptions that assign value, morality, goodness and humanity to the white group, while casting people and communities of colour as worthless (worth less), immoral, bad, inhuman and undeserving. Drawing from critical race theory, the term "white supremacy" also refers to a political or socio-economic system where white people enjoy structural advantages and rights that other racial and ethnic groups do not, both at a collective and individual level.

(Adapted from Racial Equity Tools Glossary)