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Terms and Definitions
United Way uses surveys to gather valuable information for evaluating its programs. The following definitions may aid you in filling out your surveys.


  • Boy/man: A gender identity born out of the gender binary. Boys/men have diverse gender expressions.
  • Girl/woman: A gender identity born out of the gender binary. Girls/women have diverse gender expressions.
  • Cisgender: The state of identifying with the sex and/or gender assigned to one at birth.
  • Intersex: A blanket term adopted by those whose biology or physiology diverges from the male/female binary.
  • Non-binary: The state of not identifying with either of the binary sex and/or gender options, i.e., male/female or man/woman.
  • Non-conforming: Another term describing the state of not identifying with either of the binary sex and/or gender options, i.e., male/female or man/woman.
  • Transgender: The state of not connecting to or identifying with the sex and/or gender assigned to one at birth.
  • Two-spirit: An identity used by many Indigenous folks that describes their gender and/or sexuality, and role within community. People who are not indigenous to Turtle Island are not invited to use this term.
  • Questioning/exploring: A term adopted by those who haven’t (yet) arrived at a label to adequately describe their gendered self. A person can be questioning/ exploring for the short or long-term, temporarily, or permanently.


  • Autism Spectrum Disorder: e.g., Asperger’s syndrome, Rett syndrome, childhood degenerative disorder, Kanner’s syndrome, pervasive developmental disorder
  • Functional/Mobility Impairment: e.g., paraplegia, quadriplegia, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury, spina bifida, multiple sclerosis
  • Medical Disability: e.g., epilepsy, chronic pain, heart condition • Mental Health Disability: e.g., depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, substance abuse, anorexia
  • Learning Disability: e.g., dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, dyspraxia, auditory processing disorder, non-verbal learning disability

Citizenship & Immigration

  • Immigration status: refers to whether the person is a non-immigrant, an immigrant, or a non-permanent resident.
  • Non-immigrant: persons who are ‘Canadian citizens by birth’
  • Immigrant: includes persons who are, or who have ever been, landed immigrants or permanent residents. Such persons have been granted the right to live in Canada permanently by immigration authorities. Immigrants who have obtained Canadian citizenship by naturalization are included in this category.
    • Permanent resident (FKA “landed immigrant”): A person who has legally immigrated to Canada but is not yet a Canadian citizen.
  • Non-permanent residents: persons from another country who have a work or study permit or are refugee claimants, and their family members share the same permit and live in Canada with them.

Indigenous Identity

  • First Nation is a term used to identify Indigenous peoples of what we now know as Canada who are neither Métis nor Inuit. First Nations people include Status and Non-Status. There are more than 630 First Nation communities in Canada, which represent more than 50 Nations.
  • Inuit: The name “Inuit” comes directly from the Inuktitut language and is the preferred term of the Indigenous peoples of the Arctic.
  • Métis: The Métis National Council General Assembly adopted the following “National Definition” in 2002: “Métis” means a person who self-identifies as Métis, is distinct from other Aboriginal peoples, is of historic Métis Nation Ancestry and who is accepted by the Métis Nation.”

Language Proficiency Levels

  • 0 – Beginner: You have no knowledge of the language, or you may know some common words and phrases, such as: greetings, giving your name, saying how you feel and numbers.
  • 1 – Elementary: You can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. You can introduce yourself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where you live, people you know and things you have. You can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.
  • 2 – Intermediate: You can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. You can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken. You can produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest. You can also describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes & ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.
  • 3 – Proficient: You can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read. You can summarize information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation. You can express yourself spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in more complex situations.

Terms & Definitions Translated Versions:

Last updated on August 30, 2023

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