Vancouver celebrates multiculturalism at various times of the year. May is Asian Heritage Month, for example. October is Latin American Heritage Month.
Black History Month is in February. June is both Italian Heritage Month and Filipino Heritage Month. As of 2022, September is Polish Heritage Month. The list goes on.
Vancouver and the Lower Mainland aren’t the only places to give extra attention and recognition to these special ethnic communities and periods of time. Many of these “official” months are recognized throughout North America and elsewhere in the world.
In this article we highlight the different months and the ethnic and cultural communities that are recognized throughout the year.
Official Multicultural Months in Vancouver, BC and Canada
Canada is a nation of immigrants. Other than Indigenous and Inuit peoples, everyone is an immigrant or descendant of immigrants. Vancouver, especially, is a multi-ethnic, multicultural and cosmopolitan city.
Below is a list of some of the different ethnic communities with their own “official” months of recognition.
January in Vancouver
January is Tamil Heritage Month and has been so in Canada since 2016. Our country is home to one of the largest Tamil diasporas in the world. British Columbia is home to around 30,000 people who speak Tamil. Thai Pongal, the traditional Tamil harvest festival, took place from January 14th to 17th in 2022.
As well, January 24th is World Day for African and Afrodescendant Culture. This is the date that the Charter for African Cultural Renaissance was enacted by the United Nations.
February in Vancouver
February is Black History Month. There is a different official theme for Black History Month in Canada each year. In 2022 it was “February and Forever: Celebrating Black History Today and Every Day”. There are a fair number of events that take place in the Lower Mainland in February to celebrate this month.
To learn more, check out our article on Black History Month in Vancouver.
March in Vancouver
March, 2022, was the first-ever Irish Heritage Month in Canada. Irish Canadians were among the very first European settlers that came to the continent in the 17th century and their descendants have grown into a massive population over the centuries despite facing discrimination and other hardships.
In addition, March 8th is International Women’s Day which is celebrated worldwide. International Women’s Month is March in many countries, but not in Canada. (In this country it’s in October.)
April in Vancouver
April is Sikh Heritage Month. Canada has the largest Sikh population (relative to total country population) of any nation outside of India. April is when Sikhs celebrate Vaisakhi which marks the creation of the Khalsa and beginning of the Solar New Year.
To learn more, see our article on Lower Mainland Vaisakhi Festival Parades.
May in Vancouver
May has two heritage months. The first is Asian Heritage Month, which, like Black History Month, has a designated theme in Canada each year. The 2022 theme was “Continuing a Legacy of Greatness”. The Canadian Heritage Foundation hosted a celebration event on Facebook Live on May 9th in 2022. To learn more see our article about the ExplorASIAN Festival.
May is also Canadian Jewish Heritage Month. Canada is home to the 4th largest Jewish population in the world and this month was designated to recognize them in 2018. During May, BC and the rest of Canada recognize the contributions that Jewish Canadians have made in our country as well as the history of violence against their community.
Finally, May 5th is Dutch Heritage Day. This day is celebrated in the Netherlands as Liberation Day from their occupation in the Second World War. Canadian soldiers played a big part in that.
June in Vancouver
June is one of the busiest months in terms of heritage celebrations. For one, is National Indigenous History Month. Canada has a very rich history of indigenous culture on the lands that we live on today, from the Coast Salish peoples here in southwest BC to the Inuit and Métis peoples from across the country. June 21st is National Indigenous Peoples Day.
June is also Italian Heritage Month which is a recent addition to the calendar. There is a large number of Italian Canadians in BC, including in East Vancouver especially. In 2021 Justin Trudeau commemorated this month by delivering an official apology for the internment of Italian Canadians during the Second World War.
Greek Heritage Month is celebrated in June with a number of events in Vancouver. Greek Day on Broadway is a massive street party on a weekend in late June in Kitsilano. The Surrey Greek Food Festival also usually happens in June.
Filipino Heritage Month is also in June. It celebrates the nearly one million Filipino Canadians that live in this country. To celebrate, Philippine Days takes place this month in North Vancouver. June is also Portuguese Heritage Month. Portuguese explorers were some of the first Europeans to land in what is now Canada. Both Filipino and Portuguese Heritage Months began in 2021.
Finally, June is also Pride Month. There are massive LGBTQ+ celebrations all across the country during this month, including here in the Lower Mainland. To learn more, click Vancouver Pride Festival.
September in Vancouver
New as of 2022, September is officially Polish Heritage Month in BC. Kicking off the month of celebrations, Polish Festival Vancouver happens at the Shipyards in North Vancouver on the Labour Day Weekend.
It’s not a full month, but the second week of September each year is Mennonite Heritage Week. Canada has one of the largest Mennonite populations in the world, with many seeking refuge in North America dating back to the 18th century.
As well, September 30th is National Truth and Reconciliation Day. This new holiday (established in 2021) honors the victims of the Canadian Residential School System and is part of the ongoing reconciliation process between Canada and its Indigenous populations.
October in Vancouver
October has a number of heritage celebrations. One is German Heritage Month which includes the Oktoberfest celebrations beginning before Thanksgiving. There are over three million German Canadians which makes them one of the largest cultural groups in the country.
October is also Canadian Islamic History Month which was established in 2007. This designation aims to increase both the recognition of the contributions made by Islamic Canadians in this country as well as help fight against discrimination and Islamophobia that Muslims face.
Latin American Heritage Month is in October and there are various events for it in the Lower Mainland each year. They include art installations, flamenco workshops, concerts, markets and other activities. To learn more, check out our article on Latin American Heritage Month in Vancouver.
Finally, October is also Women’s History Month in Canada. It coincides with International Day of the Girl on October 8th as well as Persons Day on October 18 which commemorates when women were officially included in the legal definition of “persons” by the highest court of appeal in 1929. In early to mid-October an interesting event is the Sky’s No Limit: Girls Fly Too at the Abbotsford Airport.
Vancouver is located on the unceded Coast Salish territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh nations. The Lower Mainland is also the traditional territory of the Tsawwassen, Semiahmoo, Stó:lō and other Indigenous peoples. Vancouver’s Best Places is grateful to be able to operate on and promote all the many events and places of interest that happen on these lands.
To learn more, about heritage months and other holidays celebrated in Canada visit the Government of Canada website.
Other articles that might be of interest include the following:
- Lower Mainland First Nations
- Vancouver Festivals and Events
- Vancouver’s Calendar of Events
- History and Culture in the Lower Mainland