Editor’s Note: This article is the first in a Mainlander series that will bring the research of academics into the public sphere. The aim of the series is to further our understanding of Vancouver’s many hidden corners while strengthening connections between local movements. In particular, we hope to disseminate research whose true importance lies beyond the university. Gillian Creese is a Professor of Sociology at UBC and the article is based on her 2011 book, The New African Diaspora in Vancouver: Migration, Exclusion and Belonging (University of Toronto Press).
Migration is often a story about loss and struggle as much as new beginnings. In spite of ideologies of multicultural acceptance in Vancouver, migrants from sub-Saharan Africa have experienced exclusion and marginalization even as they build new spaces of belonging. Migrants from sub-Saharan Africa are a small but growing part of the metro Vancouver population. In the 2006 Census, 27,260 Vancouver residents were born in Africa, constituting just over 1% of the population. The small African diaspora is spread out in the municipalities of Surrey, Langley, Coquitlam, Vancouver, New Westminster, and Burnaby. This dispersed residential pattern makes it more difficult to develop connections within the community. Nevertheless, community building practices are occurring across these spaces.