Human Rights and Equity Resources at UBCO

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This module provides information and resources on human rights, equity, anti-racism work, and related topics for students at UBC Okanagan. The contents may be useful for you in your personal lives; in your classroom experiences; and in research and learning throughout your studies at the university.

This learning module is divided into several sections:

Key Terms and Concepts: Vocabulary, concepts and frequently asked questions about human rights and equity issues on campus.

UBC Policies & Statements: List of key University policies & statements about human rights-related issues.

UBC Okanagan Resources: Where to go on campus for information about human rights and equity issues, or to get help with a human rights situation.

Community Resources: Groups in the community and around the province that can provide support and information. These groups may also have opportunities for volunteer work and service.

Research and Academic Information on Human Rights and Equity: Sources to learn more about human rights and equity issues, or do research for university course assignments.

How to get involved: Links to the UBC Equity Matters campaign, student groups, and ways to get involved with equity and human rights issues on campus.


The following definitions and FAQs are intended to be informational, rather than legal advice. For more information about any of these issues please contact UBC’s Equity Office.

13 grounds: The protected conditions under the B.C. Human Rights Code. Discriminating on any of the following 13 grounds, which the B.C. Human Rights Code declares prohibited grounds of discrimination, violates both the Human Rights Code and UBC's Policy on Discrimination and Harassment:

• Age • Ancestry • Colour • Family Status • Marital Status • Physical and Mental Disability • Place of Origin • Political Belief • Race • Religion • Sex (including gender and pregnancy) • Sexual orientation • Unrelated criminal conviction


Accommodation: An alteration to the "usual" way of doing things for the purpose of allowing someone to gain fair access. While the term is often used to describe changes that are made so that an individual with a disability can gain access (e.g., by modifying the physical environment), accommodations can be provided to remove barriers to access for any human rights-related reasons. For example, an accommodation for sex could include creating breast feeding friendly policies for the institution so a mother can continue to work while feeding her child. Academic accommodations allow students to overcome challenges that impede their academic success. Some examples of academic accommodations include:

• alternate format material (such as braille for students who are blind)

• private exam space for students with attention deficit disorder

• note-takers for students with temporary hand/wrist injuries

Employers, including institutions of learning, are expected by law to accommodate to the point of “undue hardship” where it becomes unreasonably difficult, risky or expensive to make the required accommodations.

Adapted from:;

Bias versus Stereotype: A bias is a personal preference, like or dislike, especially when the tendency interferes with the ability to be impartial, unprejudiced, or objective. On the other hand, a stereotype is a preconceived idea that attributes certain characteristics (in general) to all the members of class or set. If you think that all Asians are smart, or white men can't dance, that is a stereotype. But if you hire an Asian for a job that also has an equally qualified black applicant because you think blacks are not as smart as Asians, you are biased. When this bias finds expression in action (i.e., hiring one person over another in this example) that is discrimination, which is governed by a wide range of laws and procedures.


Disability: Inborn or assigned characteristics of an individual that may prevent full participation in educational, social, economic, political, religious, institutional or formal activities of a group, or that may require accommodation to enable full participation. Visible disabilities are readily apparent and consequent discrimination or stigma may be more predicable than with invisible disabilities which are not immediately apparent. Persons with disabilities form one of the designated groups in employment equity programs. An important aspect of this definition is voluntary self-identification.

Source: Canadian Race Relations Foundation Glossary,,com_glossary/Itemid,553/lang,english/

Discrimination: Unfair, differential treatment of individuals and groups based on prejudice, ignorance, fear or stereotypes. Discrimination is based on the erroneous assumption that a particular individual shares attributes, usually negative, stereotypically associated with a group to which he or she is perceived to belong. Discrimination can be intentional or unintentional, but is not permitted in either case. Discrimination imposes burdens on, or denies opportunities to, individuals or groups and is unfair because it is not based on actual academic or job performance, or any other form of competence.

Some common forms of discrimination include homophobia, racism, sexism, ableism and ageism.


Diversity: Diversity refers to the many ways in which “people see, categorize, understand, and go about improving the world.” Some aspects of diversity are gender, race, culture, religion, sexual orientation, physical ability, family status or socio-economic status, but there are many more. To value diversity and benefit from the strengths it offers means to take "individual difference into account, respecting the ways in which that difference manifests, and taking full advantage of the exchange of diverse perspectives and ideas that result in a robust and collegial environment."

Adapted from Valuing difference: A strategy for advancing equity and diversity at UBC. 2010.

Equality versus Equity: Equity at its heart is about fairness; it is about equal access – to education, to employment – and equal opportunity to succeed in these domains. Equity is not the same as formal equality. Formal equality implies sameness. Equity, on the other hand, assumes difference and takes difference into account to ensure a fair process and, ultimately, a fair (or equitable) outcome.

Adapted from Valuing difference: A strategy for advancing equity and diversity at UBC. 2010.

Harassment: Harassment is unwanted and unwelcome attention from a person who knows, or ought to know, that the behaviour is unwelcome. Harassment can range from written or spoken comments to unwanted jokes, gifts, and physical assault, and may be accompanied by threats or promises regarding work or study opportunities and conditions. Harassment can be either a single incident or a series of related incidents.

Under UBC’s Policy on Discrimination and Harassment, harassment is considered a form of discrimination that humiliates, intimidates, excludes and isolates an individual or group based on the BC Human Rights Code's thirteen grounds of prohibited discrimination.

Harassment can manifest as personal, criminal or discriminatory harassment. If the vexatious behavior or comments are criminal (e.g., violent, hate speech), the harassment can be dealt with through the RCMP or the B.C. Hate Crimes Unit. If the harassment is linked with one of the 13 grounds (see definition) then the behavior is covered by UBC’s Policy on Discrimination and Harassment (see Section 3). If the harassment is personal or falls into neither of these categories, it may be covered by UBC’s Respectful Environment Statement (see Section 3).

In all cases, please contact UBC’s Equity Office for information or a consultation.


Homophobia and Transphobia: Homophobia and transphobia involve harassing, prejudicial treatment of, or negative attitudes about, lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, trans-identified, transgender, transsexual, two-spirit and/or intersex (LGBQTTI) persons and those perceived to be of these sexual orientations or gender identities.

Homophobia and transphobia include a range of feelings and behaviours from discomfort andfear to disgust, hatred and violence. It manifests itself in four different ways. Personal homophobia (or internalized homophobia) consists of personal beliefs and prejudices. Interpersonal homophobia (harassment and individual discrimination) involves individual behaviours based on those personal beliefs. Institutional homophobia includes the ways that governments, organizations, some religions, businesses and other institutions discriminate against people on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Lastly, cultural homophobia (heterosexism) refers to societal values and “norms” that privilege heterosexuality over all other forms of gender expression and sexual orientation.


Human Rights: “Human rights affirm and protect the right of every individual to live and work without discrimination and harassment. Human Rights policies and legislation attempt to create a climate in which the dignity, worth and rights of all people are respected, regardless of age, ancestry, citizenship, colour, creed (faith), disability, ethnic origin, family status, gender, marital status, place of origin, race, sexual orientation or socio-economic status.”

Source: Canadian Race Relations Foundation Glossary,,com_glossary/Itemid,553/lang,english/

In the context of UBC, human rights are based on a number of philosophical principles: that all people are equally deserving of dignity and respect; that diversity enhances the richness of our society; that barriers to participation, which are often based in bias, fear or stereotypes, should be removed; and that each person should have the opportunity to reach full potential.

Human rights legislation is found at all levels of government and institutional functioning. For example, internationally we have the UN Declaration of Human Rights; nationally, the Canadian Human Rights Act; provincially, the B.C. Human Rights Code (see Section 6 for more details); and institutionally, UBC’s policies on discrimination, harassment and diversity (see Section 3 for UBC Policies and Statements).

Inclusive Language: Inclusive language refers to word choices (in speech, writing and visual representation) that reflect human diversity, avoid stereotyping or pigeon holing members of particular groups, and create space for everyone.

Adapted from Calgary Health Region, Inclusive Language:

LGBQTTI: An acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer, Trans (transgender, transsexual, trans-identified, genderqueer), Two-Spirit and Intersex. Other forms of the acronym are used, including LGBT and LGBTIQ.


Racism: Racism is the belief that one group or race is inherently superior to another. Racism appears in social structures and practices that limit, exclude, oppress and discriminate against target individuals and groups because of their ancestry, colour, place of origin, race or religion.

Racism may be found in the attitudes and behaviours of individuals and groups as well as in organizational and institutional structures that privilege or provide opportunities and special rights to the dominant group and disadvantage target individuals and groups. Racism can be overt or covert, intentional or unintentional. Whatever the form, racism harms.


Visible minority: According to the Employment Equity Act, visible minority is defined as "persons other than the Aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race and non-white in colour."



Religious Policy: Religious observance may preclude attending classes or examinations at certain times. Students who wish to have their exams accommodated for religious reasons must notify their instructors in writing at least two weeks in advance of the exam, and preferably earlier.

Policy on Discrimination and Harassment: The fundamental objectives of this University policy are to prevent discrimination and harassment on grounds protected by the B.C. Human Rights Code, and to provide procedures for handling complaints, remedying situations, and imposing discipline when such discrimination and harassment do occur.

Academic Accommodation for Students with Disabilities: The University of British Columbia recognizes its moral and legal duty to provide academic accommodation. The University must remove barriers and provide opportunities to students with a disability, enabling them to access University services, programs and facilities and to be welcomed as participating members of the University community. The University’s goal is to ensure fair and consistent treatment of all students, including students with a disability, in accordance with their distinct needs and in a manner consistent with academic principles.

Respectful Environment Statement: The best possible environment for working, learning and living is one in which respect, civility, diversity, opportunity and inclusion are valued. Everyone at the University of British Columbia is expected to conduct themselves in a manner that upholds these principles in all communications and interactions with fellow UBC community members and the public in all University-related settings.

Valuing Difference: A Strategy for Advancing Equity and Diversity at UBC: “UBC embraces equity and diversity as integral to our academic mission. We encourage and support participation of the widest range of perspectives in our exploration and exchange of knowledge and ideas. An essential component of academic excellence is a truly open and diverse community that actively fosters the inclusion of voices that have been underrepresented or excluded. Thus, UBC is committed to fostering a living, learning, and working environment to which all can contribute and within which all can thrive.”


The following offices and services provide support and information for UBC students facing a wide range of human rights and equity concerns on campus.

Aboriginal Programs and Services: Provide a range of support for Aboriginal students at UBC, including orientation, a student resource centre, and diverse activities. The Aboriginal Centre is a gathering place for students and offers programming, space to study or relax, and socializing.

International Programs and Services: Provides advising, transition services, and programs for international students. We are available to assist you with issues related to immigration, safety, health insurance, employment, and your transition to UBC.

Equity Office: Provides confidential consultations and case management procedures for human rights discrimination and harassment on campus.

Equity Representatives: Equity Reps answer questions about discrimination and harassment, listen to individual concerns, and provide referrals for support with human rights concerns.

Disability Resource Centre: Provides support for students with disabilities and academic accommodations, including exam accommodations.

Health & Wellness: Provides physical and mental health services, including nurses, doctors, counseling, drug and alcohol counseling, and other support.

Spiritual/Multi-Faith Space: This space is available for prayer and meditation. Through the website you can get connected with groups that meet in and use the space.

Collegia: Collegia offer students a place to hang out, eat lunch, spend time with classmates, and do school work. Each Collegium has a relaxing lounge-style atmosphere and is outfitted with comfortable furniture, individual and group work spaces, and kitchen facilities.

UBC Okanagan Student Union: First floor of UNC, The Student Union website contains many resources for students. Go here for contact info for the Board of Directors, Advocacy Reps, Student Clubs, and many more.

Pride Centre: UNC 132, The Pride Resource Centre was created by the Students’ Union in 2003 as a positive space for LGBTQ students, as well as their friends and allies, on campus. The purpose of the Pride Centre is to work toward the elimination of marginalization and exclusion on the basis of sexual affiliation or identification, to promote activities that further the social, emotional, and physical wellbeing of the LGBTQ community on campus, and to create a sense of community and solidarity amongst LGBTQ students and supporters. As well, the Centre’s goal is to create an inclusive and tolerant atmosphere in which the human rights and equality of all people are respected.

Women’s Resource Centre: UNC 132, The Women’s Resource Centre was founded in 2003 as a safe-space open to all women on campus. The mandate of the centre is to seek the full equality of women, to promote an awareness of women’s issues on campus and in the community, and to strive toward the elimination of all barriers to post-secondary education for women.


The following community resources can provide support for a wide range of interests and needs.

Organization Type of Support Phone Number Web Address
Kelowna Women’s Resource Centre Diverse support for women 250-762-2355
Elizabeth Fry Information about all forms of abuse and legal situations 250-763-4613
NOW Canada Society (New Opportunities for Women) Emergency housing, homeless shelter, other support for women 250-763-3876
Kelowna Women’s Shelter Counselling for women 250-763-1040 (24 hour)
Kelowna Women’s Shelter Emergency shelter for women 250-763-1040 (24 hour)
Crisis Line Crisis calls and referrals 250-763-9191 (24 hour)
John Howard Society Crime prevention, rehabilitation, reintegration and social justice. 250-763-1331
Legal Aid Family/criminal defense support 250-763-8613
Victim Services For plaintiffs in criminal cases, through RCMP 250-470-6242
Kelowna & District Society for People in Motion Assists individuals with a disability to participate fully in the community 250-861-3302
Lifestyle Equity Society Support services for adults with developmental disabilities and individuals with brain injuries 250-869-0186
Okanagan Rainbow Coalition Centre Focal point for the LGBT community in the Okanagan 250-860-8555 Toll free: 1-866-844-3444
Pride in the Okanagan Resources & events around the Okanagan
OK to Say Support for incidents of racism Crisis line: 250-763-9191
Ki-low-na Friendship Society Counselling services; promotes Aboriginal cultural distinctiveness 250-763-4905
Kelowna Community Resources Multiple services for immigrants, community, families, adoption, etc. 250-763-8008
Kelowna Immigrant Society An immigrant community service agency that assists immigrants in Kelowna and surrounding area. 250-763-0901

Updated June 29, 2010

Provincial Resources

BC Hate Crime Information: Toll-free 1-800-563-0808

BC Human Rights Coalition: 1-877-689-8474

BC Human Rights Tribunal: 1-888-440-8844 or (604) 775-2021 (TTY)

Disabilities Health Research Network: 250-807 8793


Anti-racism and Social Change Database:

The purpose of this database is to organize and categorize the resources that are readily available through the UBCO Library and on the 'net, in a meaningful way. This resource is only a partial list of all the available resources. Because the library is constantly acquiring new resources, the database will need to be constantly updated. Please help us to do so by making changes to the database or email the Equity Office with suggested changes/additions.

B.C. Human Rights Code:

The provincial code that governs human rights law in B.C. UBC’s Policy 3 on Discrimination and Harassment is based on the BCHRC.

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal:

The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal is an independent, quasi-judicial body created by the B.C. Human Rights Code. The Tribunal is responsible for accepting, screening, mediating and adjudicating human rights complaints. The website contains information about the complaint process and a searchable database of past decisions of the Tribunal.

Canadian Human Rights Act:

The purpose of the act is that “… all individuals should have an opportunity equal with other individuals to make for themselves the lives that they are able and wish to have and to have their needs accommodated, consistent with their duties and obligations as members of society, without being hindered in or prevented from doing so by discriminatory practices…” (from the Act).

Canadian Human Rights Commission:

Administers the Canadian Human Rights Act and is responsible for ensuring compliance with the Employment Equity Act

Canadian Race Relations Foundation:

“The Canadian Race Relations Foundation is Canada's leading agency dedicated to the elimination of racism in the country” (from the website). The website contains news, reports and resources.

rethinking global citizenship | from here

A Zine comprised of contributions from members of ENGL 525A/ ENGL437A/CULT 437A regarding global citizenship and cosmopolitan ethics.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

Adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 10, 1948, this declaration outlines “equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family” (from the Declaration).

Human Rights Glossary from the Canadian Race Relations Foundation:,com_glossary/Itemid,553/lang,english/

An extensive listing of human rights and race related terminology.

Inclusive Language: Inclusive language refers to word choices (in speech and writing) that reflect human diversity, avoid stereotyping or pigeon holing members of particular groups, and create space for everyone. The following websites offer samples of inclusive language guides from different institutions and geographic locations.

• UBC, “Inclusive Language Guidelines”:

• Calgary Health Region, Inclusive Language:

• University of Western Australia, “Using Inclusive Language”:

• University of Honolulu, “Do’s and Don’ts of Inclusive Language” (sic.):

• University of Tasmania, “Guide to Inclusive Language”:


Equity Matters:

This campus-wide campaign supports equity and human rights. The page contains links to events, learning opportunities, information about equity and human rights issues, and ways you can get involved.


• Be conscious of your own attitude and any stereotypes you may hold

• Get to know people before you judge them

• Learn more about the causes and types of discrimination

• Value and respect other experiences and viewpoints

• Try to promote greater insight and dialogue when discussing viewpoints as opposed to anger and defensiveness

• Speak up when someone speaks negatively or reinforces a stereotype

• Refuse to participate in or perpetuate discrimination

• Recognize barriers that prevent some people from having meaningful access

• Support initiatives that give voice to equity issues

• Get involved!


• Don’t ignore it! Do something about it! Discrimination does not go away on its own and it can hinder your ability to succeed.

• If it’s safe to do so, tell the person his/her comments or conduct is unwelcome and ask them to stop.

• Seek advice. Contact the Equity Office for support and assistance or talk to someone who will listen and offer constructive support and help.

• If the situation persists, get help from the Equity Office, your Department Head, a Dean or Campus Security.

• Keep a record of what happened and who you talked to.

HOW TO GET involved AT UBC

• Get involved with UBC Student Union Clubs that fit your area of interest or start a new club (

• Check with the Equity Matters campaign (weblink). They offer various programs, initiatives and events.

• Check the UBC online events calendar on a regular basis and attend events.

• Take a course that focuses on equity related issues.

• Ask what’s happening in your Faculty around equity issues and get involved.

• Learn about and share Equity issues that are related to your specific discipline.

• Take a positive approach and engage in human rights and equity forums.

• If you are unsure whether your behavior and/or words are welcome, ask.

• Support peers with leadership skills in Human Rights and Equity initiatives.

• Be careful not to minimize any experiences of discrimination or harassment; instead, listen, show support and help people connect with resources on and off campus.

• Volunteer for a community organization:

Through UBC:

In the community: