Distinguishing race and ethnicity
The terms “race” and “ethnicity” are often used interchangeably or as a single, conflated construct — “race/ethnicity.” However, race and ethnicity are distinct social constructs, and the measurement and reporting of racial and ethnic health inequalities should reflect these differences.
Race is a social construct used to judge and categorize people based on perceived differences in physical appearance in ways that create and maintain power differentials within social hierarchies. There is no scientifically supported biological basis for discrete racial groups.
Racialization is the process by which people are judged and categorized into races primarily using differences in physical appearance. In this process, societies construct races as “real,” different and unequal in ways that pertain to economic, political and social life.
Ethnicity is a multi-dimensional concept referring to community belonging and a shared cultural group membership. It is related to socio-demographic characteristics, including language, religion, geographic origin, nationality, cultural traditions, ancestry and migration history, among others.
A glossary of key concepts and relevant terminology is in Appendix B.
 As cited (p. 5) in Canadian Institute for Health Information. (2022). Guidance on the use of standards for race-based and Indigenous identity data collection and health reporting in Canada. https://www.cihi.ca/en/race-based-and-indigenous-identity-data