Skyline of Vancouver, Canada

Cultural Diversity In Vancouver

Beautiful view of Vancouver skyline with Stanley Park at sunset, British Columbia, Canada
Beautiful view of Vancouver skyline with Stanley Park at sunset, British Columbia, Canada

Vancouver has consistently been at the top of the list of most livable cities in the world. It might be the most expensive place to live in Canada, but the lifestyle, educational and career opportunities, diversity of cultures, greenery, and more make up for the high bills you pay. 

Vancouver lies in the south-west corner of British Columbia, on the lower mainland region of North America. The city of Vancouver covers an area of 115 square kilometers of land. The collective Metro Vancouver takes up 2930 square kilometers of land. As a major city of Canada, Vancouver reported a population of 662248 people in the consensus of 2021. This huge count of the population has earned Vancouver a place as the third most populated metro city in Canada. 

One of the things that makes Vancouver more livable than other parts of the country is its climatic range. The city of Vancouver is considered warm when measured against the standards of temperature in other cities of Canada. While summers are usually dry, this Canadian city is one of the wettest parts of the country, with a lot of rainfall throughout the year.  

Vancouver culture displays mixed influences from European, Asian, and First Nation individuals. Cultural diversity in Vancouver is dense and encompasses a range of artwork, heritage, music, cuisines, religions, and more. All the cultural mesh gives it a truly international vibe.    

So, if you have your bags packed to move to the city of Vancouver, keep reading to know all the details about cultural diversity in Vancouver and what you can expect in terms of lifestyle. 

Vancouver Cultural Diversity And Inclusion

The history of the city is as rich as Vancouver culture. It dates back to the late 1820s when the Hudson Bay Company established Fort Langley, a trading post near the area. At that time, Native Americans, also called First Nations, were inhabiting most of the area of current Vancouver. 

In the 1850s, several Europeans were living near the area as well. Soon after, a new town called New Westminster was set up. In the succeeding 1860s, the gold rush brought in an onslaught of miners, mostly from the town of California. 

During the 1970s, a small portion of the area was named Granville. This small area was renamed Vancouver in April of 1886 in honor of the English navigator of the Royal Navy, George Vancouver. Since then, and before as well, the city of Vancouver has been a popular destination for tourists and immigrants alike. The most prominent group in the early days of Vancouver was from East Asia, prominently the Chinese people. 

One of the most densely populated cities of Canada, Vancouver has about :

  • 49.3 percent European
  • 32.1 percent South Asian
  • 20 percent East and Southeast Asian
  • 3.1 percent North American Aboriginal
  • 2 percent Latin, Central and South American
  • 1.7 percent African
  • 1.1 percent Oceania distribution of population.  

Cultural Diversity In Vancouver

Vancouver skyline in the evening
Photo Credit :123RF

Today, the testament of Vancouver cultural diversity and inclusion is that there is only a small portion of the population of the city, which comprises the First Nation people. Vancouver culture has grown to include an ethnically diverse group of immigrants as citizens and residents. 

The First Nation people are a part of the Coast-Salish group. They may not be in large numbers, but the Vancouver culture recognizes their roots, and their impact can be seen in the surroundings. The First Nation people’s history can be witnessed in the artifacts displayed at the UBC Museum of Anthropology, in Stanley Park totem poles at Brockton Point, the aboriginal art in the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast, the Vancouver Art Gallery, and several more display centers. 

One of the landmarks of cultural diversity in Vancouver is the Chinatown of the city. The Chinese inhabited neighborhoods nearby are the most brilliant show of how ethnically diverse Vancouver culture is. The Chinese came to the Canadian city sometime in the 1800s during the gold rush. They worked on the mines and on the railroads as the Canadian Pacific Railway was under construction. 

As more workers kept arriving with their families, the neighborhoods grew and began bustling with Chinese peeps. The Chinatown in Vancouver is ranked as the third-largest one in North America. Owing to its significance in the history of cultural diversity in Vancouver, Chinatown was named as a National Historic site in 2011.

Another area with a major Chinese population is the Golden Village in Richmond, where 54% of the population is from a Chinese background. In these areas, you will find Chinese-owned businesses, souvenirs, Chinese cuisines, nightlife, and more.  

From peaceful gardens to cherry blossom trees, the prominent hints of Japanese culture are another proof of cultural diversity in Vancouver. Japanese immigrants first began settling in Vancouver between 1877 and 1928 in small fishing villages. Since then, you can enjoy authentic Japanese culture in the communities of Vancouver, such as tea rituals, festivals, and restaurants. 

Indian and South Asian immigrants make up a large part of Vancouver culture. They first arrived in 1897, with the main attraction being the lumber industry of the city. But soon, more Indians, Sikhs, and South Asians started settling down with families, especially many people from Punjab. A complete Punjabi market exists today as a part of Vancouver culture, where you can find all sorts of Indian stuff such as gold bangles, spices, henna, bright silks, Indian cuisine, and more. This place is known as Little India. It covers six blocks on Main Street, starting from East 49thAvenue. 

Moreover, there were two Sikh temples built in Vancouver. One of them doesn’t exist today but the other, Fraser Mills Gur Sikh Temple, is one of the oldest in North America. 

Another symbol of cultural diversity in Vancouver is Little Italy. Italians first started arriving in Vancouver after World War II and largely settled in the Grandview neighborhood near Commercial Drive. Over the years, other ethnic groups settled in Little Italy as well and made it more diverse, but the name has still stuck to the place due to the variety of Italian culture ranging from cuisines and restaurants to artifacts and cafes. You can take a deep dive into the Italian Canadian culture at the Italian Culture Center close to Beaconsfield Park. 

Festivals

Festivals are the engine of any culture. They bring people together in harmony and generosity and keep the communities running on solid ground. Vancouver culture is brimming with festivals of diverse communities. You will get to be a part of festivals from around the globe in the city of Vancouver. 

Several East Indian festivals are a part of Vancouver culture. Diwali, the festival of lights, is one of the biggest festivals for Indians and is celebrated in October. People celebrate it with music, dance, fireworks, and lots of food. Other than that, Holi is celebrated with zeal in the city as well. Vaisakhi Festival, which marks the start of Punjabi New Year, occurs in April. More festivals include the Indian summer festival and Indian Music Festival. 

Chinese New Year is a big festival and a bright proof of cultural diversity in Vancouver. It is celebrated in the months of January and February. During the celebrations, parades are carried out across Chinatown, Chinese food is available in abundance, artifacts, dresses, and more can be bought off the stalls. 

European Festival is a part of Vancouver culture which is held to just enjoy the variety of cuisines, dance, music, and other fun stuff. The festival gives space to Canadian Europeans to display their culture with performances, arts, cuisine, heritage, etc. 

Italian day is another celebratory part of the cultural diversity in Vancouver. It is observed on the second Sunday of June. The festival usually involves a large number of sponsors, vendors, and over 300000 attendees. During the Italian day, the streets of Vancouver are converted to be on full display of the Italian culture and heritage. 

One more festival included in the Vancouver culture is the Coastal Dance Festival, which celebrates and presents music, dance, culture, and arts from the indigenous people of North America’s Northwest coast. Guests from areas like British Columbia, Alaska, Washington State, and from around the world are invited to be a part of the festival. 

There is the festival of Eid-ul Fitr and Eid-ul Adha, which is celebrated with zeal and zest among the Muslim community of Vancouver. Eid-ul Fitr marks the end of the Holy month of Ramazan for the Muslim community and is an auspicious occasion for them. 

Additionally, the Cherry blossom festival, International Jazz Festival, Christmas, St. Patrick’s Day parade, and Easter are also observed with solidarity as a part of cultural diversity in Vancouver. 

Strategies For A Multi Cultured City

As the population of the city is growing and Vancouver culture is becoming increasingly diverse, there must be some strategies put in place to guard the diversity and promote it further. 

Northshore Immigrant Inclusion Partnership (NSIIP) is a joint effort of communities to work for better outcomes for the new immigrant settlers in the city. It has received federal funding and works at a local and regional level. The coalition helps immigrants with housing, employment, representation, and more. 

The Immigrant Services Society of British Columbia works to improve the situation of immigrants responsible for cultural diversity in Vancouver. It helps the immigrant settlers with being and handling leadership positions in their communities, provides and discusses social media safety and privacy, and helps diverse communities forge their career paths.   

Vancouver Immigration Partnership (VIP) helps immigrants settle in Vancouver by providing knowledge, building strategies, giving access to amenities and services, promoting inter-cultural engagement, and more. 

The Mentorship Program, in association with the Immigrant Employment Council of BC, helps immigrants find and get jobs that match their skillsets and education. There is a Chinatown restoration program, which brings together members of the community to help preserve and restore the heritage of Chinese people in Chinatown.  

Several more initiatives and efforts are put in place to encourage Vancouver cultural diversity and inclusion.

To conclude, the decision to move to another country or city is one of the toughest you will ever take. There is the promise of a better life, but you have to leave behind your entire culture and heritage to move to a strange place. 

However, with high cultural diversity in Vancouver, you would mesh in extremely well. It would feel like home immediately. There are programs to support your immigrant life and a huge community to provide emotional and moral support. Other than enjoying bits of culture from back home, you will be able to give it your own unique twist. 

So, embrace this new experience of a diverse culture. Learn more about cultural diversity worldwide at Moovaz.

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