The Ontario Association of Art Galleries (OAAG) is operating as Galeries Ontario / Ontario Galleries (GOG).

CODE OF ETHICAL AND PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT Board of Directors – The Board of Directors is elected by the membership of the Association and is responsible for establishing policies that govern the Association, oversees that these policies are followed, and delegates responsibilities to the Executive Director and Committees.

Executive Director – The Executive Director is hired by the Board of Directors and is responsible for management of the day-to-day operations of the Association, hiring and supervision of the staff (paid and volunteer), development of programs, presentation of proposals for implementing policies, and plays an active role in the creation of new policies or alterations to existing policies and the carrying out of these policies.

Committees – Committee Chairpersons are appointed by the Board of Directors and all members of the Committees must be approved by the Board. The Committees are responsible for collectively carrying out the initiatives as set out by the Board within the terms of reference and within established budget guidelines and for making recommendations to the Board for implementation of these initiatives.

Special Interest Groups – Special Interest Groups do not have a mandate within the Association, but have aligned themselves with the Association for the purposes of convenience of meetings, etc. Special Interest Groups may not use the name of the Association to further their own interests and must adhere to all of the stipulations of this Code. Alignment with and usage of the name of the Association in connection with Special Interest Group activities must be cleared on every occasion by the secretariat and/or the Board of Directors.

Responsibility to the Association – All individuals involved with the Association (Board of Directors, Executive Director, Staff, Committee Members and Special Interest Groups) should act with the best interests of GOG foremost and in accordance with its bylaws, policies, purpose and goals. All individuals must carry out their own responsibilities, in relation to GOG, ethically and morally and without allowing their activities to serve their own end above the common good of the Association. As the history of GOG activities to date clearly indicates the drive towards, and effectiveness of, united action by its members, the most important element in the Association’s Code of Ethical Conduct must be the agreement by members that the common good of the whole takes precedence over the individual interest of the parts. It is recognized that members of the Board and Committees are usually employees of the Association’s member institutions and have loyalties to their own institutions, as well as to the guiding principles of GOG. These individuals should accept responsibility for loyalty to GOG without compromising their own principles. It is understood that individual member Galleries have their own constitutions and bylaws, and that this Code of Ethical Conduct cannot take precedence over them. Each member institution should establish its participation in GOG as a high priority in its own operation and should allow their employees a reasonable amount of time to dedicate to such involvement.

Board/Committee Membership – All members of the Board and Committees must be members of the Association. It is necessary that all Board and Committee members agree to acquaint themselves with the Association’s purposes, policies and practices and to accept a share of responsibility and workload that will be carried out conscientiously and diligently. Membership in GOG implies the provision of resources and assistance to other members, where possible and feasible, in the interests of mutual support.

Conflict of Interest – All individuals will refrain from any acts or activities that may be perceived as a conflict of interest whether personally, on behalf of his/her institution of employment, or in the interests of a 3rd party. In addition, all individuals have an obligation to reveal any potential conflicts of interest and to resolve such situations immediately. This conflict of interest extends to such areas as personal relationships, relationships to the funding bodies and acts resulting in personal gain.

Confidentiality – While individuals are involved with the Association and even after their length of service has terminated, it is expected that any information that is of a confidential nature will be kept confidential. Members shall also respect the confidentiality of other members’ operational information (especially financial), and will not use it without prior knowledge and permission of the other members in question.

Integrity/Professionalism – It is taken for granted that in the furnishing of information of any kind or participation in activities, members of GOG will act with integrity and professionalism not only towards their own institutions, but also toward GOG and its members institutions, professional colleagues and the general public. Before any member considers expansionary plans of any kind for his/her institution, due consideration for, and consultation with neighbouring institutions should be given in an effort to obtain their cooperation and good will. Any individual member or member institution proposing policy changes that might have repercussions throughout the whole art gallery community, or wishing to communicate with the rest of the membership, will advise and consult with the Board of Directors before taking this action. The influence of GOG as an organization will not be used without thorough investigation into all of the circumstances surrounding any request for support or assistance.

Discrimination – All individuals involved with GOG shall not knowingly engage in any practices that may be deemed discriminatory on the grounds of race, creed, colour, national origin, language, age, gender, sexual orientation, political affiliation, marital status, disability or family status. See Full Anti-Racism and Anti-Discrimination policy below.

Remuneration – Members of the Association are entitled to receive remuneration from GOG for services performed (i.e.: presenting lectures at seminars, authoring publications, etc.). Any individual receiving such payment has the option of waiving their fees or donating them back to the Association. However, payment is not extended to the Board of Directors and Committee members performing activities considered to be within ‘normal duties.’ GOG endorses the following Codes of Ethics, that are recommended for the guidance of the membership for their individual organizations:
  • The Canadian Art Museum Director’s Organization (CAMDO)
  • Canadian Museums Association (CMA)
  • Association of Cultural Executives (ACE)
  • Professional Practices in Art Museums by the American Art Museum Directors, 1971
Breach – Any breach of ethical conduct must be addressed openly by the Board of Directors and immediate action taken to resolve the situation. Depending on the situation, the Board of Directors may suspend or terminate an individual’s involvement with the Association. Any questions of conduct will be addressed with consideration and promptness.
GOG MEMBERSHIP POLICY The present membership consists of public institutions, organizations, and individuals in the following categories:
  • Art Gallery Member (Institutional)
  • Affiliate Gallery Member (Institutional)
  • Associate Organization Member (Institutional)
  • Business Member
  • Colleague Member
  • Friend Member
Application to Membership – Prospective members shall apply in writing to the Board, and supply sufficient information to allow the Board to determine the category of membership to which the applicant may be admitted. Members shall be admitted by resolution of the Board. [Bylaw 2.03] All applications for membership are processed by the GOG office, reviewed by the Membership Committee which makes its recommendations to the Board of Directors.

Fees – Each member shall pay the fees and levies set by the Board from time to time [Bylaw 2.04].

Voting Rights – Each member has one vote exercised by the member or by a designated representative. No member in arrears in payment of fees and levies set by the Board may vote at a members’ meeting. Certain voting rights may be reserved for GOG Art Gallery Members. Any three Art Gallery members may require, at a members’ meeting, that a resolution before that meeting may be ratified by a majority of votes cast by the Art Gallery members present at the members’ meeting before becoming effective. Any three Art Gallery members may require, at a members’ meeting, that a special resolution before that meeting be ratified by at least two-thirds of the votes cast by the Art Gallery members present at the members’ meeting before becoming effective [Bylaw 2.05].

Holding Office – As a member of GOG you are entitled to hold office on the Board of Directors within the guidelines of the GOG Bylaws [Bylaws 4.01 to 4.12]. The Board may establish Committees and fix the term of office and the terms of reference of the Committees. The members of these Committees need not be directors, but must be members of GOG [Bylaw 5.09]. Each ART GALLERY and AFFILIATE GALLERY member institution should establish its participation in GOG as a high priority in its own operation and recognize the leadership and commitment given to GOG by staff members through release time from their regular work.

Resignation – Members may resign by giving written notice to the Board to the attention of the President. A member who has resigned shall remain liable for payment of fees outstanding at the time written notice was given to the Board [Bylaw 2.06].

Termination – A member may be removed from membership by Board resolution if fees and levies payable by the members are more than 60 days in arrears. A member may be removed from membership by a members’ resolution passed by at least two-thirds of the votes cast, at a members’ meeting of which notice specifying the intention to pass the resolution was given [Bylaw 2.07].

Records – The GOG office is required to keep a register of members, that alphabetically lists all persons who are, or have been within ten years, members of GOG and the addresses of every such person while a member [Bylaw 7.02].

Art Gallery and Affiliate Gallery members are required to submit to the GOG office, their respective Annual Return forms as defined by GOG with current information pertaining to their institutions.
REIMBURSEMENT/REMUNERATION POLICY Reimbursement of Expenses Incurred

The Directors and Committee Members shall serve without remuneration provided that the Board may by resolution, from time to time, pay for out-of-pocket expenses out of the funds of GOG, to any Director or Committee Member who performs any special work or service for, or undertaken any special commission on behalf of GOG. However, payment is not extended to the Board of Directors and Committee Members performing activities considered to be within ‘normal duties.’ [Bylaw 4.08]

GOG shall reimburse according to the current schedule, reasonable living expenses (travel, meals, accommodation, conference fees, etc.) to Board Members who are conducting business on GOG’s behalf. Such expenditures should be economical in nature. Public transportation (i.e.: air, train, etc.) should be booked in sufficient time to take advantage of the lowest applicable economy rates. When traveling by automobile, the rate of reimbursement should be in line with the level of reimbursement in the current schedule (guided by the schedules used by the Ontario Arts Council and the Ministry of Culture and Communications).

Board and Committee Members may claim for travel expenses related to attending meetings at the office of the secretariat. Early in the year, after receiving a schedule of meetings, each Member should submit an estimate of their travel expenses for the entire year. It is noted however, that some Members may wish to request that their Institution absorb some of these travel expenses.

Board members’ attendance is required at GOG Annual and Fall General Meetings. Therefore GOG will cover their expenses for travel, accommodation and meals according to rates established in the GOG Expense Claim Form. Board members are not required to pay for lunches or other refreshments served at Annual and Fall General Meetings.

If a director is also participating in an GOG program scheduled to take place on the same day as an Annual or Fall General Meeting, any additional expenses incurred for that attendance will be covered by GOG, and the director will not be required to pay a registration fee for the program.

Directors who elect to attend a program (i.e.: a focus session) scheduled on the same day or successive days as an Annual or Fall General Meeting are required to pay the registration fee and may not charge GOG for additional expenses incurred by extending their stay. Anyone requiring reimbursement should submit an Expense Claim to the secretariat within one month. All expenses must be supported by receipts. GOG cannot assume any costs for Board or Committee Members to attend non-GOG conferences unless the individual has been designated by the Executive to attend.

Remuneration for Services Performed

GOG will recognize its own professional members as contributors to GOG activities. Members of the Association are entitled to receive remuneration from GOG for services performed (i.e.: presenting lectures at seminars, authoring publications, etc.). Any individual receiving such payment has the option of waiving their fees or donating them back to the Association. Honoraria in kind or cash should be paid for services rendered, regardless if a participant is a member or not.
POLICY ON GOG’S INTERVENTION, ENDORSEMENT OR ASSISTANCE TO INDIVIDUAL INSTITUTIONS The following procedures have been adopted for GOG Board Members and Staff to follow when an Institutional Member wishes to bring a concern specific to that Institution before the GOG Board for assistance or intervention.

1. When an individual staff member, usually the Director, of a member institution asks for professional advice regarding a matter concerning their particular institution, they may contact the Executive Director in confidence. Advice may be given with discretion, in an informal, confidential manner or the Executive Director may advise contact with other members who are willing and able to share some specific or relevant experience or expertise.

2. When staff of a member institution, usually the Director, want GOG to take some action on their institution’s behalf, their request must be addressed in writing to the President of GOG who will bring the matter before the Executive Committee. Written requests for GOG’s intervention:
  • a) should make it clear that there is a consensus between the staff and Board of the petitioning member institution on the matter of attention;
  • b) must include a clear, concise case history of the matter for attention;
  • c) should state clearly how they wish GOG to be involved.
3. Member galleries that have representatives on the GOG Board are free to enlist GOG help or intervention in the same manner as any other member. A request for GOG intervention or action may be presented by the Executive Committee to the GOG Board on their behalf. It is understood that Board members will declare any conflict of this kind if it arises and remove themselves from discussion or voting on any issue that directly affects them individually or their institution of employment.

4. A Board member may submit related material for GOG intervention or assistance to support their request. If they wish the secretariat to circulate such material on their behalf, a request to do so must be made through the President or the Executive Committee.

5. If GOG is called upon to offer an evaluation or endorsement for one of its member institutions, a letter stating the relevant facts may be drafted by the Executive Director for approval by the Executive Committee. If there is any question that the requested evaluation or endorsement may not reflect the professional opinion of a majority of Art Gallery Members in GOG, the Executive Committee must have approval from the whole Board.

GOG cannot directly support any request for funding from its member institutions to any government agency dispensing grants or subsidies for which other Art Gallery Members also compete.
POLICY ON CONFIDENTIALITY OF INFORMATION RECEIVED BY GOG In matters pertinent to the public gallery community or to the gallery membership in general, GOG staff and Board members will accept only those communications that they can fully disclose and discuss with the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors, and upon their discretion, the entire Board of Directors and any suitable advisors that they may wish to call upon.

Also refer to Confidentiality section in Code of Ethical and Professional Conduct.

1. Special Interest Groups (SIGs) function as specialized groups of common interest within the structure of Galeries Ontario / Ontario Galleries (GOG). All individuals involved with SIGs will act with the best interests of GOG foremost, and in accordance with GOG’s bylaws, policies, purposes, goals, and code of ethical conduct in a spirit of good faith and mutual respect.

2. SIGs have aligned themselves with GOG for the purposes of peer support, common goals and values, affirmation, and strength in association. They do not have an individual mandate within the Association, but exist in a symbiotic, mutually beneficial relationship within GOG. SIGs are working groups which help to identify and address issues related to areas of specialization within the public gallery professions.

3. Alignment with and usage of the name of GOG in connection with SIG activities must be approved in each instance by the Board of Directors on the advice and recommendation of the GOG secretariat.

3. Alignment with and usage of the name of GOG in connection with SIG activities must be approved in each instance by the Board of Directors on the advice and recommendation of the GOG secretariat.

5. SIGs will have a broad representation throughout the province, with primarily an Ontario perspective. They are open, democratic groups that are responsive to their membership. SIGs are a forum for the sharing of information and the discussion of issues within the membership and for the promotion of professional development.

6. SIGs further the mission of GOG by helping to promote and shape the public gallery professions and by acting as networking agents for information exchange. A SIG may also advise GOG on matters which concern its area of specialization, or related individuals or institutions.

7. GOG may call upon SIGs for advice on matters where GOG intends to make representation, formal or informal, to provincial, national, or international organization, or to any other individual, body, or government agency.

8. GOG may support advocacy efforts on behalf of the SIGs within its available resources, and when these efforts are in concurrence with the well-being of the general membership as a whole.


9. Each SIG shall report to the Board of GOG through the secretariat which will act as a liaison between the SIG and GOG. An alternative avenue of appeal may be made through the Policy Committee.

Formation – Membership

10. Each SIG member must be an individual member of GOG. There are three categories of GOG individual membership open to interested SIGs, two paid and one complimentary. They are:
  • Colleague(paid) – open to paid professionals working full time in Art Gallery or Affiliate Gallery member institution
  • Colleague (complimentary) – open to paid professionals working full time in Art Gallery or Affiliate Gallery member institutions paying annual fees in excess of $300.00, and who is named by the director as the member institution’s complimentary colleague
  • Friend (paid) – open to any interested individual, other than those qualified as colleagues, who supports the aims and objectives of GOG
The designated representative named to GOG by Art Gallery and Affiliate Gallery member institutions functions as the vital connection for the all-inclusive relationship between GOG and the gallery. Therefore, it is not advisable for the SIG member to also be the designated representative of an institution.

Each GOG/SIG member must indicate on the appropriate membership form their SIG of affiliation for administration and communication purposes.

Formation – Acceptance to Membership

11. A motion from the Membership Committee to the Board of Directors is required to accept a SIG or suspend a SIG. The secretariat will review SIG applications for completeness before presenting them to the Membership Committee for approval. The Membership Committee’s motion to accept a SIG will state that all conditions of membership are met. SIGs will be formally recognized within GOG through majority approval of the Board and ratification by the membership at a subsequent spring or fall General Meeting as appropriate.

A written request for constitution within GOG shall consist of the following:
  • a. a copy of the group’s current mandate or statement of purpose
  • b. a copy of the group’s current objectives and bylaws
  • c. names of the executive group (updated as necessary)
  • d. a list of current members, all of whom shall be GOG members in good standing
  • e. a projected budget, including goods and services in kind

12. GOG may promote membership in SIGs from time to time through information in DATELINE, including advertisements and a short article (up to 200 words). The publication deadline is the first of the month preceding the month of publication (i.e. September 1st for the October issue). Standard publication guidelines apply to all submissions, including those from SIGs: the final decision to publish and/or edit submissions resides with GOG. GOG acknowledges that the copyright resides with the SIG or with the author/originator, and all submissions must conform with copyright legislation. The editor must notify the writer of changes and get sign-off approval prior to printing.

13. GOG may assist with the distribution of recognized SIG newsletters in lieu of other institutional or volunteer administrative support as follows:
  • a. by providing mailing labels of the GOG/SIG members from GOG’s computer database at a possible nominal charge
  • b. by providing piggyback mailings of newsletters recognized by GOG with scheduled mailings of DATELINE, frequency to be mutually agreed upon, from time to time. A sufficient quantity of newsletters to distribute to the entire GOG/SIG database of members, plus approximately 20 copies for the GOG Resource Centre, must be provided by the SIG. Prior consultation with the secretariat regarding postal weight restrictions and mailing deadlines is necessary.
Copies of current mailing lists shall be kept at the GOG secretariat.

Membership Fees

14. SIGs may charge fees to offset expenses incurred in conducting normal business operations of the group such as production and mailing of newsletters, conference calls, administration costs, etc. Fees shall be collected by the SIG on its own behalf.

SIG Meetings

15. SIGs may wish to plan meetings in conjunction with GOG General Meetings to facilitate back to back attendance for a greater number of participants. GOG will help SIGs publicize their meetings to the entire GOG membership, provided notice is given in accordance with the publication/meeting schedule, usually 4 to 6 weeks. Meeting information should include group, date, time, venue, agenda, special speakers or topics, cost, and what the cost includes. Any fees charged will be administered by the SIG. SIG and GOG meetings should run consecutively, rather than concurrently, to accommodate mutual members. Early consultation with the secretariat about meeting plans is advised.

16. GOG may support SIGs through award recognition and will support SIG conferences, projects, and workshops whenever possible and as resources permit. Any SIG meeting costs incurred over and above those agreed upon by GOG shall be borne by the SIG.

Reporting Requirements

17. To maximize communications and coordinate efforts, copies of SIG minutes, newsletters, membership lists, plans for projects, budgets, and reports shall be filed with the secretariat two weeks prior to June 1st of each year for the GOG Annual General Meeting. Changes to the SIG executive committee, membership, or operations shall be reported to the secretariat regularly. A formal written report shall be made at the GOG Annual General Meeting.


18. In accordance with GOG’s bylaws, all proposals for independent fundraising activities and grant submissions by SIGs shall be tabled and approved by the GOG Board in advance of submission, in order to ensure maximum cooperation and minimum conflict or competition. GOG shall bear no financial liability for grants and projects undertaken by SIGs subsequent to GOG notification and approval, other than as stated above or as agreed later in writing.

Benefits of SIG Formation and Membership
  • Identification with the larger umbrella organization and subsequent visibility and credibility.
  • Increased communication and mutual affirmation.
  • Shared common goals and values.
  • Strength in association.
  • Access to professionals as they enter the field and join GOG.
  • Coordinated advocacy, communications, fundraising/grant applications.
  • A wide network of professional colleagues for consultation/assistance.
  • Direct communication with your provincial umbrella organization, GOG, and a stronger voice in its affairs.
  • atabase membership and mailing lists.
  • ccess to DATELINE to publicize activities and initiatives.
  • Piggyback mailing privileges.
  • Coordinated meetings to benefit members and attract new members.
  • Current record of reports and meetings/activities at the GOG secretariat.
  • Recognition through awards and endorsement of the parent organization, GOG.
  • Peer support and validation as professionals.

The following are guidelines based upon general consultations with experts in the field and are not meant to be definitive. Rather, they reflect the recent trend toward more realistic standards that are more attainable in North America, given our unique climate. Practicality and consistency are most important considerations. Standards at such institutions as the National Gallery may be more stringent and individual institutional demands should be considered when borrowing or lending works. In some cases, it may be possible to achieve more stringent standards in specific galleries or discreet spaces. Special environmentally controlled display cases may also be desirable to meet demands. These conditions must be maintained in both art exhibition and art storage areas.

Environmental Factors

1. Temperature

A range of 19°C to 22°C, depending upon the season is practical and economical. 19°C to 20°C in the winter is easier on most Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems, with 21°C to 22°C in summer. Daily fluctuations should not exceed plus or minus 1°C – 1.5°C. (While 19°C may be chilly for people, it is also desirable in order to attain more ideal levels of relative humidity.) Changes from season to season should be made as slowly and gradually as possible.

2. Relative Humidity

The more stable the relative humidity, the better for preservation of works of art. The optimum range year round is between 45% and 51%. A range in the low 40’s is more realistic since it is nearly mechanically impossible to achieve 50% in winter here. HVAC instruments have a control capacity of only 3% and are unable to detect finer percentages in fluctuations. Daily fluctuations should not exceed plus or minus 3%. The changeover rate of at most 5% per month is difficult to achieve and it may be necessary to aim for about 1% per day. Aim for 45% as acceptable.

3. Lighting

A relatively recent concept of “Lux Hours” permits exposure of works of art at higher levels of light for short periods of time, especially if works are infrequently displayed. As a guide to light intensity, the following maximum standards are acceptable for incandescent or U.V. filtered bulbs, or natural daylight.
  • maximum of 50 lux on sensitive objects (paper, textiles, etc.)
  • maximum of 150 lux on paintings and polychromes
  • maximum of 300 lux on insensitive objects (stone, bare metals)
  • maximum of 75 u watts/lumen ultraviolet radiation
Note may be made on labels that levels are increased at the request of the artists for contemporary work, if applicable.

4. Monitoring

Light and climate should be monitored with professionally recommended equipment and recorded in order to recognize daily or seasonal fluctuations, and to make adjustments as required. A list of equipment sources is attached.

5. Security

Theft and Vandalism

Suitable mechanical devices for prevention, electronic devices for detection, and central station monitoring for response. Controlled key access to security areas, and personal staff supervision during open hours.


Suitable safe practices for prevention, electronic devices for detection, safe (non-damaging) methods and devices for extinguishing and central station monitoring for counteraction.

6. Care and Handling

The improper physical handling of artworks leads to many usually avoidable mishaps. Objects should be moved or handled as infrequently as possible and in such manner as to prevent bumping and jostling. When works are being moved, undivided attention is required. Each task should be assigned to a specific individual (i.e. coordinator/router, supervisor, carrier(s), door opener/holder, etc.) Avoid haste. The hands of the mover(s) should be clean, or gloves worn. Be sensitive to the physical nature of objects.

7. Staff

A staff member whose major area of responsibility includes the maintenance of the aforementioned conditions, and whose training includes post-secondary museology training, or equivalent experience in the care and handling of works of art.


8. Air Cleaning

Level of dust removal – 95% of particles 1 micron in diameter; 50% of particles between 0.5 and 1 micron in diameter. Reference: Canadian Conservation Institute, Technical Bulletin #5
GALERIES ONTARIO / ONTARIO GALLERIES ANTI-RACISM, ACCESS AND EQUITY POLICY AND HUMAN RIGHTS COMPLAINTS PROCEDURE This policy, approved and adopted by Galeries Ontario / Ontario Galleries at the meeting of the Board of Directors.


The Province of Ontario is made up of people from diverse communities and equity-seeking groups. This includes but is not limited to Black, Indigenous, People of Colour and non-gender conforming individuals. 1 (superscript 1) Galeries Ontario / Ontario Galleries recognizes that the changing nature of the population and a history of systemic oppression has implications in terms of delivering and/or providing access to its services, programs and activities. We recognize that barriers to services exist for members of diverse communities and equity-seeking groups, and we are committed to acting as a positive force in eliminating these barriers. To achieve this, the Galeries Ontario / Ontario Galleries will:
  • Endeavour to ensure that diverse communities have equitable access to its services, resources and decision-making;
  • Be non-discriminatory, combat systemic oppression and promote the goals of anti-racism, access and equity;
  • Ensure its services, programs and decision-making reflect the community it serves;
  • Encourage our member organizations to effect the goals set out in this policy by adopting a similar policy based on the OHRC; and
  • Require our member organizations to maintain good standing through conduct that effects the goals set out in this [GOG’s] policy. If members do not comply, GOG is within its right to revoke membership.
Galeries Ontario / Ontario Galleries prohibits discrimination or harassment and protects the right to be free from hate activity based on age, ancestry, citizenship, creed (religion), colour, disability, ethnic origin, family status, gender identity, level of literacy, marital status, place of origin, membership in a union or staff association, political affiliation, race, receipt of public assistance, record of offences, sex, sexual orientation or any other personal characteristic by or within the organization.

[1] For the purposes of this policy, equity-seeking groups include Indigenous, Metis and Inuit people, women, people with disabilities, racial minorities, the socio-economically disadvantaged, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered persons and gender non-conforming persons.


To this end, it is imperative that we understand the definition of key equity terms that will enrich our capacity to prevent all forms of harassment and discrimination.


A set of practices and systems designed to eliminate racism. Racism includes racist ideologies, prejudiced attitudes, discriminatory behaviours, structural arrangements and institutionalized practices which are inherently systemic resulting in racial inequality as well as the fallacious notion that discriminatory relations between groups are morally and scientifically justifiable.

Systemic Racism

Systemic racism consists of organizational culture, policies, directives, practices or procedures that exclude, displace or marginalize some racialized groups or create unfair barriers for them to access valuable benefits and opportunities. This is often the result of institutional biases in organizational culture, policies, directives, practices, and procedures that may appear neutral but have the effect of privileging some groups and disadvantaging others.

Anti-Indigenous Racism

Anti-Indigenous racism is the ongoing race-based discrimination, negative stereotyping, and injustice experienced by Indigenous Peoples within Canada. It includes ideas and practices that establish, maintain and perpetuate power imbalances, systemic barriers, and inequitable outcomes that stem from the legacy of colonial policies and practices in Canada. Systemic anti-Indigenous racism is evident in discriminatory federal policies such as the Indian Act and the residential school system. It is also manifest in the overrepresentation of Indigenous peoples in the Canadian criminal justice and child welfare systems, as well as inequitable outcomes in education, wellbeing, and health. Individual lived experiences of anti-Indigenous racism can be seen in the rise in acts of hostility and violence directed at Indigenous people.

Anti-Black Racism

Anti-Black racism is prejudice, attitudes, beliefs, stereotyping and discrimination that is directed at people of African descent and is rooted in their unique history and experience of enslavement and its legacy. Anti-Black racism is deeply entrenched in Canadian institutions, policies and practices, to the extent that anti-Black racism is either functionally normalized or rendered invisible to the larger White society. Anti-Black racism is manifest in the current social, economic, and political marginalization of African Canadians, which includes unequal opportunities, lower socioeconomic status, higher unemployment, significant poverty rates and overrepresentation in the criminal justice and child welfare systems.

Sexual Orientation

“Sexual orientation” is not specifically defined in the Code. However, the OHRC recognizes that sexual orientation is more than simply a “status” that an individual possesses; it is an immutable personal characteristic that forms part of an individual’s core identity. Sexual orientation encompasses the range of human sexuality from gay and lesbian to bisexual and heterosexual orientations, including intimate emotional and romantic attachments and relationships. It is most commonly gay and lesbian people who make claims of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. However, the protection of the Code extends to all individuals who are denied equal treatment because of sexual orientation. The Code also prohibits discrimination because of gender identity, such as that faced by transsexual, transgender and intersex persons. These protections are extended on the basis of sex rather than sexual orientation, and are discussed in the OHRC’s Policy on discrimination and harassment because of gender identity.

Systemic Discrimination

Discrimination may also be institutional or systemic. Policies, practices, rules or requirements, decision-making processes and organizational culture may all have discriminatory effects on individuals based on sexual orientation. Organizational culture can be described as shared patterns of informal social behaviour which are the evidence of deeply held and possibly unconscious values, assumptions and behavioural norms. An organizational culture that is not inclusive can marginalize lesbian, bisexual or gay people and contribute to homophobia or heterosexism.


People who are not comfortable with, and who reject, in whole or in part, their birth assigned gender identities. This may include people who identify as transsexual and people who describe themselves as being on a gender spectrum or continuum rather than identifying with “male” or “female”. They may or may not undergo hormone treatment and/or surgical procedures. In order to break down employment barriers related to family status, employees, employers, and government must work together. The Commission believes that the government has an important role to play in ensure greater social supports for childcare, eldercare, and persons with disabilities and their families, and in developing minimum legislated standards that support the ability of caregivers to participate in the workplace.


Defining disability is a complex, evolving matter. The term “disability” covers a broad range and degree of conditions. A disability may have been present at birth, caused by an accident, or developed over time. Section 10 of the OHRC defines “disability” as:

1. any degree of physical disability, infirmity, malformation or disfigurement that is caused by bodily injury, birth defect or illness and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, includes diabetes mellitus, epilepsy, a brain injury, any degree of paralysis, amputation, lack of physical coordination, blindness or visual impediment, deafness or hearing impediment, muteness or speech impediment, or physical reliance on a guide dog or other animal or on a wheelchair or other remedial appliance or device,

2. a condition of mental impairment or a developmental disability,

3. a learning disability, or a dysfunction in one or more of the processes involved in understanding or using symbols or spoken language,

4. a mental disorder, or

5. an injury or disability for which benefits were claimed or received under the insurance plan established under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997.


The ability of or extents to which communities or residents can attain needed services and achieve full participation in the planning, development, administration and delivery of those services. Access includes client access and organizational access.


Practices designed to remove systemic barriers to equality of outcome by identifying and eliminating discriminatory policies and practices.


The act of treating a person unequally by imposing unequal burdens or denying benefits, rather than treating a person fairly on the basis of individual merit. Discrimination is usually based upon personal prejudices and stereotypical assumptions related to at least one of the grounds set out in this Policy. It is not necessary to have an intent to discriminate under the Code. Workplace rules, policies, procedures, requirements, qualifications or factors may not be directly or intentionally discriminatory but are likely systemic and will likely have an adverse effect. This may create barriers to achievement and opportunity. Please see an expanded definition in the Ontario Human Rights Code here with examples here: http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/iii-principles-and-concepts/2-what-discrimination


A course of conduct of comments or actions that are unwelcome or should be known to be unwelcome. A person has the right to be free of humiliating or annoying behaviour that is based on one or more grounds in the Code.

From the OHRC: Harassment: means a course of comments or actions that are known, or ought reasonably to be known, to be unwelcome. It can involve words or actions that are known or should be known to be offensive, embarrassing, humiliating, demeaning or unwelcome, based on a ground of discrimination identified by this policy. Harassment can occur based on any of the grounds of discrimination.

Examples of harassment include:
  • Epithets, remarks, jokes or innuendos related to a person’s race, gender identity, gender expression, sex, disability, sexual orientation, creed, age, or any other ground
  • Posting or circulating offensive pictures, graffiti or materials, whether in print form or via e-mail or other electronic means
  • Singling out a person for humiliating or demeaning “teasing” or jokes because they are a member of a Code-protected group
  • Comments ridiculing a person because of characteristics that are related to a ground of discrimination. For example, this could include comments about a person’s dress, speech or other practices that may be related to their sex, race, gender identity or creed.


Galeries Ontario / Ontario Galleries is committed to achieving representation of the diversity of the Ontario community on its Board of Directors by ensuring that it has an equitable and transparent nominations process, that this process is communicated to all members, and that members are committed to outreach beyond the current membership if necessary to achieve this goal. Galeries Ontario / Ontario Galleries, through the standing nominations committee, will continue to encourage and seek nominations to the Board of Directors from its general membership and the visual arts community. The call for nominations is announced in an open forum during GOG’s annual general meeting followed by elections.


Galeries Ontario / Ontario Galleries is committed to achieving representation of equity seeking groups on its staff by ensuring that members of equity seeking communities have equitable access to employment. This includes recruitment, selection, staff development, performance evaluation, retention, promotion, termination. Any prejudicial concerns regarding hiring, termination, or staff development will be dealt with as outlined in section C of this policy. Galeries Ontario / Ontario Galleries is committed to maintaining an environment where all individuals are treated with dignity and respect and are free from all forms of discriminatory treatment, behaviour or practice. Discrimination, harassment, violence, and any other form of discriminatory practices will not be tolerated by Galeries Ontario / Ontario Galleries. Discrimination does not have to be intentional. It can result from practices or policies that appear to be neutral but, in reality, have a negative effect on groups or individuals based on race, religion, gender, and so on. Galeries Ontario / Ontario Galleries will ensure that any complaints are swiftly processed as outlined in section C of this policy.


Galeries Ontario / Ontario Galleries is committed to ensuring that its services and programs are accessible to diverse communities. This involves review of current outreach, communications, program planning and evaluation, to ensure goals are being met. Every effort will be made towards ensuring wheelchair accessibility within the administrative offices and to the resource centre. GOG programming, general meetings, and workshops will be held in accessible spaces where possible and disseminated information regarding these events will include accessibility information. In addition, Galeries Ontario / Ontario Galleries will take into consideration provision of services to disadvantaged individuals, low-income persons, families in poverty, and equity-seeking communities. Programs and workshops are organized by Galeries Ontario / Ontario Galleries on a cost-recovery basis. Whenever possible, substantially-reduced registration fees for students and those claiming special circumstances are offered.

Training and Education

Galeries Ontario / Ontario Galleries is committed to ensuring that those involved in the delivery of services and programs have the knowledge, understanding and skills to work with and provide services to members of diverse communities, particularly equity-seeking communities. All full-time employees of Galeries Ontario / Ontario Galleries will be given an introductory package with this policy and asked to sign a letter of compliance to this policy.

Information and Communications

Galeries Ontario / Ontario Galleries is committed to ensuring that all of its communications, including information on its services and programs, are accessible to diverse communities. Galeries Ontario / Ontario Gallerieswill disseminate information on its programming and services in a manner that will reach the largest numbers as well as making the information available on its website. GOG will also investigate the feasibility of producing its texts in both official languages and do so where possible.



Complainant: the individual alleging the discriminatory treatment or behaviour Respondent: the individual against whom the allegation of discrimination is made. Employee: for the purpose of this policy, the term employee includes employees, volunteers, contractors and consultants working with Galeries Ontario / Ontario Galleries.

Avenues of Complaint

Complaints will be dealt with by the Executive Director. Where appropriate, the Executive Director will consult with the President of the Board of Directors and the Personnel Committee. All situations in which the Executive Director has been named in a complaint will be dealt with directly by the President of the Board of Directors in consultation with the Personnel Committee.

Right to Complain

Individuals have the right to complain about situations they believe to be discriminatory or harassing in nature. This policy prohibits reprisals against employees because they have complained or have provided information regarding a complaint. Alleged reprisals are subject to the same complaints procedures and penalties as complaints of discrimination.

Reporting a Complaint

Although individuals may first choose to make a verbal complaint, a written summary of the incident will be required. Complaints should be reported as soon as possible. If the complaint is delayed beyond three months, the complainant should outline the reason for the delay in reporting the incident(s). A letter of complaint should contain a brief account of the offensive incident(s), when it occurred, the person(s) involved and the names of witnesses, if any. The letter should be signed and dated by the complainant.


Within three working days of receiving a complaint, the Executive Director and/or President of the Board of Directors must initiate the investigation process. As soon as possible after receiving the complaint, the Executive Director will notify the individual(s) being named in the complaint. All individuals named in the complaint have a right to reply to the allegations against them. Individuals named in the complaint as witnesses will be interviewed.

Settlement and Mediation

With the consent of the complainant and the respondent, the investigator may attempt to mediate a settlement of a complaint at any point prior to or during an investigation. Every effort will be made to reach a settlement satisfactory to the complainant and the respondent.


All individuals involved with a complaint must ensure the matter remains confidential. The investigator will release information only on a need-to-know basis. Whenever possible, investigation reports are presented in a summary format without the names of witnesses.

Findings and Recommendations

Once the investigation is complete, the investigator will prepare a written report summarizing investigation findings.

Final Decision

The individual(s) who filed the complaint and those named in the complaint have the right to review and comment on the investigation findings with the Executive Director or the President of the Board of Directors.


A response to a founded complaint could include remedial action ranging from:
  • requiring the respondent to provide a verbal of written apology;
  • giving a verbal or written reprimand with a copy to the respondent’s personnel file;
  • dismissal of the respondent. If the findings do not support the complaint, Galeries Ontario / Ontario Galleries might:
  • make a recommendation for training or better communications; or
  • recommend that no further action is necessary.

It may be that no action is taken against the respondent, but there might be a need for some management or systemic activity. A person who is found to have made a frivolous or vexatious complaint may be subject to disciplinary action.


Complaints should be reported within three months of the incident. If the report is made after three months, an explanation of the delay should accompany the complaint. Complaints will be dealt with in a timely manner.


When remedial action requires discipline of an employee, a record of the disciplinary action will be placed on an individual’s personnel file. All other records of the investigation will be kept separate and apart from the personnel file.

Ontario Human Rights Commission

This internal procedure is available to individuals to resolve complaints of discrimination. Parties also have recourse to the Ontario Human Rights Commission, however, once a grievance is filed with OHRC, the internal procedure is not an option.


1. Truth and Reconciliation: Commission of Canada. (2015). Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action.

2. Saad, Layla, F. (2020). Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor. Illinois: Sourcebooks.