East Burnaby is Metro Vancouver’s most multi-ethnic ’hood

November 2, 2015

By Douglas Todd, Vancouver Sun |

Mark Omamalin, a 46-year-old migrant from the Philippines, has just visited Value Village at Kingsway and Linden Avenue in Burnaby.

The giant second-hand store is in an area known as Edmonds, on the Burnaby-New Westminster border. Edmonds is arguably the most ethnically diverse neighbourhood in Metro Vancouver, perhaps in Canada and the world.

The sidewalks of the modest neighbourhood, which is ringed with truck rental outlets and muffler shops, are dotted with women wearing black chadors, long, loose garments that cover the whole body from hair to foot, yet with the face exposed.

While the clothing of the ethnically diverse males tends to be Western, some black women wear colourful Caribbean head-ties and South Asian women in saris sit at bus stops.

Omamalin and his wife, whom an Alberta hotel chain originally sponsored to migrate to Canada to work as cleaners, appreciate this modest neighbourhood of East Burnaby, including Value Village, because it’s relatively affordable for their tight budget. It’s also “in the middle of everything” in Metro Vancouver.

The mostly treeless neighbourhood of roughly 5,000 people — it includes St. Thomas More Collegiate and the Edmonds Neighbourhood Resource Centre (which serves refugees) — came out with the highest score on The Vancouver Sun’s “diversity index.”

Created by Sun data journalist Chad Skelton, the Metro Vancouver diversity index measures Statistics Canada neighbourhoods (technically known as “census tracts”) for “the chances that any two people, chosen at random, will be of a different ethnic background.”

The data compiled by Skelton into interactive online maps show this neighbourhood — between Canada Way and Kingsway, Edmonds and 10th Avenue — achieves a score of 83 per cent on The Sun’s diversity index.

That’s the highest ethnic-diversity ranking in all of Metro Vancouver. It would be hard for any neighbourhood in the world to top it.

The population of this neighbourhood is 25 per cent white, 19 per cent Filipino, 17 per cent ethnic Chinese, 15 per cent South Asian (mostly Indian, Punjabi and Pakistani), eight per cent black (mostly African), seven per cent West Asian (mostly Afghan and Iranian) and three per cent South-East Asian (mostly Vietnamese and Malaysian).

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