Glossary of Terms

ally: someone from a privileged group who is aware of how oppression works and struggles alongside members of an oppressed group to take action to end oppression.

cultural safety: the recognition that one needs to be aware of and challenge unequal power relations at the level of individual, family, community, and society. In a culturally safe learning 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.

decolonization: the process of deconstructing colonial ideologies of the superiority and privilege of Western thought and approaches. Decolonization involves valuing and revitalizing Indigenous knowledge and approaches, and weeding out Western biases or assumptions that have impacted Indigenous ways of being

First Nations: the accepted term for people who are Indigenous and who do not identify as Inuit or Métis. Today there are around 630 First Nations in Canada.

holism/wholistic view: An Indigenous worldview that sees the whole person (physical, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual) as interconnected to land and in relationship to others (family, communities, nations)

Indigenization the collaborative process of naturalizing Indigenous intent, interactions, and processes and making them evident to transform spaces, places, and hearts. In the context of post-secondary education, this involves including Indigenous perspectives and approaches.

Inuit (singular Inuk): an Indigenous group living in the Arctic regions of Canada, Greenland, Alaska, and Russia. Historically they were referred to in Canada as “Eskimos” or “Esquimaux,” but this term is neither accurate nor respectful and should not be used.

learning spirit: the entity that guides learning (beyond family, community, and Elders). It is an Indigenous concept that spirits travel with individuals and guide them, offering, guidance, inspiration, and the unrealized potential to be who we are.

Métis: a distinct Indigenous group with formal recognition equal to that of the First Nations and Inuit. Their ancestors were French and Scottish men who migrated to Canada in the 17th and 18th centuries to work in the fur trade and who had children with First Nations women and then formed new communities. The families and their descendants were most often referred to as Métis (from the French for “to mix”).

microaggressions: brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioural, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative slights, invalidations, and insults to an individual or group because of their marginalized status in society.

reconciliation: addressing past wrongs done to Indigenous Peoples, making amends, and improving relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to create a better future for all.

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Pulling Together: A Guide for Front-Line Staff, Student Services, and Advisors by Ian Cull, Robert L. A. Hancock, Stephanie McKeown, Michelle Pidgeon, and Adrienne Vedan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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