Council and staff recognize and value the contributions of the diverse communities that make Vancouver one of the most liveable cities in the world.
We observe many special days that are significant to our ethnic and cultural communities, such as Black History Month, and Diwali.
Observances can include public ceremonies, as well as proclamations from the Mayor.
Days and events that the City observes include:
- Black History Month (February)
- International Women's Day (8 March)
- International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (21 March)
- Vancouver Pride (July/August)
- Diwali (November)
- International Day of Persons with Disabilities (3 December)
February: Black History Month
Black History Month is an opportunity to share the history, contributions, and culture of Black Canadians.
Visit the event calendar for a list of special events taking place:
Here in British Columbia, there is a significant Black history going back to Canada’s colonial origins. In 1858, nearly 800 free Black people left the oppressive racial conditions of San Francisco for a new life on Vancouver Island.
Though still faced with intense discrimination, these pioneers enriched the political, religious and economic life of the colony.
Many from that initial group have contributed notably to BC life:
- Mifflin Gibbs became a prominent politician
- Charles and Nancy Alexande initiated the Shady Creek Methodist Church
- John Deas established a salmon cannery
In late 2011, Council passed a motion designating Black History Month as a Civic Special Event with funding.
8 March: International Women's Day
Every year on 8 March, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements.
A global web of rich and diverse local activity connects women from all around the world, ranging from political rallies, business conferences, government activities and networking events through to local women's craft markets, theatric performances, fashion parades and more.
The City celebrates this day, and honours local women, with the Remarkable Women program, which highlights the important roles women in our communities play.
21 March: International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
In 1966, the United Nations declared 21 March “International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.”
This day marks an event that took place in Sharpeville, South Africa, on March 21, 1960, when 69 demonstrators were killed by police during a protest against apartheid.
The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed in cities around the world, including Vancouver.
July-August: Vancouver Pride
Each year in late July/early August, members of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transsexual, and Queer (LGBTQ) community - and their friends and allies - join together to celebrate their lives, families, and progress in the areas of equality and tolerance.
Each year, the Mayor proclaims this week "Pride Week" during an event for the community at City Hall. Council also has a significant presence in the annual Pride parade, an event that attracts over 600,000 people.
November: Diwali - Festival of Lights
Vancouver is home to the second-largest South Asian community in Canada.
Diwali, known as the Festival of Lights, is a unifying event in many communities across South Asia.
For all, it is a time of renewed spirit, celebrated with family and the community through joyous music, dance, crafts, stories, and delectable sweets.
To express their happiness during Diwali, people:
- Light clay lamps called diyas, and set off firecrackers
- Display colourful floor mosaics or rangoli
- Decorate their homes, and partake in sumptuous feasts
The City of Vancouver co-sponsors the annual Vancouver Celebrates Diwali festival. Check our event calendar for upcoming Diwali celebrations in your area.
3 December: International Day of Persons with Disabilities
Each year on 3 December, Vancouver joins cities around the world to celebrate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
Join the annual celebration and participate in activities like wheelchair square dancing and adaptive yoga.
Each year the City hosts special guest speakers and live music.