Our Region

Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley, & the Sunshine Coast

We acknowledge that we gather and worship on the traditional ancestoral territories of the Coast Salish First Nations:

Coast Salish Territories

(Image from University of Victoria - Coast Salish Files)

The Diocese encompasses much of the area commonly known as the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, and is bounded to the north by the Coast Mountains, to the southeast by the Cascade Mountains, and traversed from east to west by the Fraser River which flows into the Pacific Ocean. Metro Vancouver consistently ranks within the top 5 places in the world in terms of liveability.

The physical setting is without peer and draws people from around the world. The spectacular geography – mountains, oceans, lakes, rivers and beaches – provides for a vast array of outdoor adventures such as biking, hiking, camping, kayaking, sailing, golfing, skiing, and snowboarding. The region hosted the Winter Olympics in 2010.

The region has one of the highest concentrations of aboriginal populations on the continent with a significant cultural influence. Many practice a mixture of Christian and aboriginal spiritual traditions. There is also a large aboriginal population living in Vancouver.

Metro Vancouver, the Sunshine Coast and the Fraser Valley have a population of over 2.9 million people. Over 51% of the population of Vancouver are of a “visible minority”. Over 30% of Metro Vancouver is of East and Southeast Asian descent and 30% of Surrey residents (a Vancouver suburb) are of South Asian descent. While most of our parishes do not reflect the diversity of the region, there are a few multicultural parishes within the diocese.

Metro Vancouver also has a large LGBTQ/2S population and some of our parishes currently offer a "Same-gender Blessing". The Diocese of New Westminister was one of the first in Canada to offer this blessing. For more information on same sex marriage blessings within the diocese click here.

Some of the issues the region struggles with are homelessness, affordable housing, social isolation, and poverty. Vancouver's Downtown Eastside (DTES) struggles with extreme poverty and "tent cities" can be found in many of the suburbs throughout Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.

In addition, Vancouver has been hit hard by the ongoing Fentanyl crisis, with hundreds of deaths from accidental overdose since 2015. Fr. Matthew Johnson, Street Priest in the DTES has spoken and presented widely on the subject: "The most effective preventative measure against overdose, is to remove the shame associated with drug addiction." Fr. Matthew serves in The Street Outreach Initiative (a joint program of the Diocese of New Westminster and St. James Church.) 

The Diocese is a member of Metro Vancouver Alliance, a broad based alliance of faith, labour and community groups, as well as educational institutions working together on issues of poverty and housing.