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Day 9, July 17: Muslims in Vancouver

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Day 9, July 17: Muslims in Vancouver

Muslims in Metro Vancouver: A Growing Tide

The beautiful coastal city of Vancouver, British Columbia, is the largest seaport and third largest city in Canada. Its north mountain ranges boast several ski resorts that helped the city to win the bid to host the 2010 Winter Olympics. Metro Vancouver is one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse cities in Canada; according to the 2006 census, 40 per cent of its inhabitants do not speak English as their first language. 

Muslim immigrants could be seen in Vancouver in 1931. In the early 1970s, larger groups of Muslims arrived from Africa. In 1980, there was only one location for Friday prayers in metro Vancouver; today, there are over 15 major locations.

Fast Growing Muslim Population

The 2001 Canada census showed that metro Vancouver had a population of 1.99 million and a Muslim population of 52,600; the 2006 census showed a 2.1 million general population and an estimated 90,000 Muslims. (The 2006 census did not survey religion.) The fast growth of the Muslim population is attributed to increased immigration, refugee resettlement and high birth rates.

Today, there are many Canadian-born Muslims mixing with arrivals from India, East Africa, Iraq, Egypt, Central Asia, Fiji, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Sri Lanka, the USA, Indonesia, Britain and more. Two of the largest groups are Punjabis and Iranians. In addition, more than a thousand students from Saudi Arabia come to Vancouver annually to study as part of a special scholarship programme launched by the Saudi government in 2007.

Ramadan in Vancouver

During Ramadan, hundreds of them gather in Vancouver mosques for iftar (evening meals that break the fast), tarawih (extra congregational prayers performed by Muslims at night), and to get in the spirit of Ramadan. The overwhelming majority of these students are in their 20s; many are experiencing their first Ramadan away from home.

Walking into a Vancouver mosque is a bit like entering a United Nations forum. It is common to see Muslims worshipping together from dozens of different countries, usually with English as their only shared language. 35 per cent of Vancouver’s population is foreign-born.

Prayer ideas:

* Pray for the Christian communities to show love, compassion and help to those who come to Vancouver as refugees and immigrants.

Pray for Christian communities willingly to seek God’s wisdom and leading as to how to interact with Muslims (Proverbs 13:14).

Pray for the younger generations of Muslims actively to seek Christ in this diversified metropolis.

Further Reading