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Black People In Vancouver

Updated on July 1, 2014

Where are the Black People In Vancouver?

As a black Canadian with my roots only known to me in Canada I am struggling living here in Vancouver as a minority female. I have a Nova Scotian background but grew up in Toronto, Ontario which is very multicultural compared to Vancouver. Growing up in Toronto I have many friends from different backgrounds but had a strong connection with people from Caribbean roots and embraced that culture for the most part. I love the food, the cultural events, getting my hair done, having hair products that worked well with my hair type and I guess for the most part identifying with someone of the same race as me. There are other characteristics that separate as well as unite black people apart from their race, such as religion, language and nationality.

Living in Vancouver for the last 9 years has become quite a culture shock for me. I get very depressed at times knowing that there are very little black people here and therefore very little cultural similarities ie. food, music, beauty salons, cultural events to embrace. So I wonder where are all the black people in Vancouver? How come there are so few of them? Where do black people go to get their hair done? Where do black people go for Caribbean food? Where do black people go for social gatherings? In Toronto this is easy to answer but I am hoping some other black people here in Vancouver could answer this question since there isn't much information on the Internet to refer to.

And excuse me for using the term "black people" which is basically a loose term. We come in all different shades, and from all different backgrounds but as a person of "dark skin" aka person of color there are still some other characteristics that bind us and connect us and amongst ourselves we can comfortably refer to ourselves as "black people" without incident.

I have always wondered where black people in Vancouver go to listen to R&B music, Reggae, Soca, Calypso, Soul Music? What dating sites exist to meet other black singles in Vancouver? This has been quite the challenge for me over the years and so far the only place I know to go clubbing is a place called Republic on Granville street which has Reggae nights on Sundays. I also heard that the Calabash Bistro which sells West Indian food also plays some old school, R&B, hip hop and reggae tunes on certain days of the week and has featured artists and poets monthly. I haven't been there yet so I am not sure how it is. As far as dating sites are concerned I have had very little luck finding black men in Vancouver who are interested in getting to know me, so I date outside of my race which I am ok with but it is not the same, as there are sometimes racial sensitivities that I often have to deal with.

Vancouver surprisingly has a Caribbean festival . I try to go every year even though I find it to be lame. I go because that might be the only time I will possibly see at least 100 black people at one time. You might be lucky enough to fully interact with some black folks on the Caribbean boat cruises held here during that time as well. Coming from Toronto which unites over 1 million people of mostly Caribbean decent at that Caribbean festival, it is hard to compare.

Check out how we roll in Toronto. ( see video below) and check out others on YouTube. The one below is the PG version lol!

Caribana Toronto

Where Do Black People Go In Vancouver To Get Hair Products?

I have yet to find many places to get black hair products in Vancouver. There is one place called Abantu on Kingsway that sells black hair products and also some of the hair salons would carry a small selection as well. I sometimes go across the border to Bellingham which is about 45 minutes away from Vancouver and usually has a larger variety at an affordable price. I will often buy my hair products online as well and pick them up across the border since many items do not ship to Canada. I never have any problems or pay any duty when I come back into Canada so it is kind of worth it making the trip also kind of fun being in America for the day. There are some black hair salons on Commercial drive such as Afro Hair Studio but since many of these black hair salons have a limited clientèle they tend to charge more, so I just do my hair myself. They might be worth checking out though. Let me know what you think.

Where Do You Get Caribbean Food In Vancouver

There are a few places to get Caribbean food in the Greater Vancouver area. The North Shore and Commercial drive are fairly popular for Caribbean food and a few places in Surrey. The Reef on Commercial drive is one of the more popular places to get West Indian food and it taste pretty good and they provide good service, but I don't think it is people of Caribbean decent who run the establishment. There are 4 locations across BC. Riddim and Spice probably has the most authentic Jamaican food on commercial and there is another place called Calabash bistro which is near Gastown.

Are There any Black Churches In Vancouver?

If you are looking for a black church in Vancouver you might want to check out the Calvary Worship in New Westminster which has a primarily black congregation.

Calvary Worship Centre On YouTube

R&B, Hip Hop, Reggae Radio Stations In Vancouver

To my knowledge there is none except the Beat 94.5 which is the closest your going to get to an Urban radio station in Vancouver. I personally listen to streaming radio on 181.fm and my Toronto radio stations online which include flow 93.5 and 98.7 fm.

The Challenges Of Being Black In Vancouver

Apart from the challenges already mentioned in this blog, black people along with other races in Vancouver also have to deal with a White Supremacy hate group called Blood and Honor which have been known to attack people of color in very violent ways. You will also encounter some people who have never seen another black person before or have not interacted with a black person so they can be very curious or very leary of you.

The History of Blacks In Vancouver

It is hard to believe but back in the 1950s and 60's there was a three block stretch on Strathcona that once housed a communty of black people. It was referred to as Hogan's Alley. It was a working-class neighborhood that contained great food, jazz music and a black community in which you could find the great Jimi Hendrix. The residents were evicted in the 1970s to make way for the Georgia Street Viaduct construction.

According to citystats.ca it is recorded that 20, 676 blacks reside in the Vancouver region compared to the overall population of 2, 097,965.00.

What Are Your Thoughts About Black Culture In Vancouver?

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