The Hellenic Community of Vancouver is British Columbia’s Greek community. Established in 1927, it serves as a spiritual, cultural and social gathering place for Greeks of Vancouver and has been an integral part of Vancouver’s vibrant history.
The Hellenic Community of Vancouver is home to a variety of other Greek organizations and societies, including the Hellenic Canadian Congress of B.C. and AHEPA. The Hellenic Community of Vancouver offers a wide range of programs to both its members and the greater community at large.
The Hellenic Community is a proud supporter of a variety of charities, including the Variety Club Telethon, the Greater Vancouver Food Bank, Covenant House and other great causes within the Greater Vancouver region.
The Hellenic Community’s roots first began on Vine and 7th Avenue, in the heart of the Kitsilano neighborhood. As the Greek population began to grow in the 1960s and 1970s, the Hellenic Community expanded and moved to its current location at 4500 Arbutus at Valley Drive where St. George’s Greek Orthodox Cathedral was built in 1974 and the Hellenic Community Centre was built shortly thereafter in 1977.
Below is a timeline of some significant events in our Community’s long proud history.
1920’s – 60’s
- The first Board of the Community was elected on July 1st and the Hellenic Community of Vancouver is incorporated on November 22nd of the same year.
- The original St. George’s Greek Orthodox at 7th and Vine is built and ready for its first Easter Service.
- A vacant lot at 4500 Arbutus Street is purchased by the Hellenic Community as the future of a New Greek Orthodox Church and future community centre.
- A special fundraiser for building the new Church was held on May 15th. Guest of honor at this fundraiser included Archbishop Meletios of San Francisco and Greek-American wrestler Jim London. Plans for the new church are unveiled at this fundraiser.
- The New Greek Orthodox Church, also called St. George’s is ready for Easter services after taking 10 months to complete the building.
- The first “Greek Day on Broadway” is held on July 1st. Greek flags were flown at City Hall for one week in recognition of Greek Independence Day (March 25th, 1821). Mayor Arthur Phillips proclaims the week as “Greek Week”.
- The Cyprus Relief Committee was formed in July immediately after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus.
- Our 50th Anniversary the Hellenic Community celebrates 50 years since its incorporation. In the same year the formal consecration of St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral takes place on October 9th, conducted by His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos of North and South America during the consecration certain members of the community are bestowed with the honorary title of Archon for their contributions to the community and building of the Church. Rev. Demetrios Partsafas is elevated to Economos and the President of the Philoptochos receives the medal of St. Paul. The first Gold Plate Dinner is held on May 15th in an effort to assist in fundraising for the building of the Community Centre. In the same year, the first annual Greek Food Festival is held in the almost completed Hellenic Community Centre with overwhelming success.
- The Hellenic Community Centre is completed and officially opens.
- Apollo Soccer Club is formed with 1230 participants for league play at various groups and levels.
- The Hellenic Community hosts the 6th World Council of Churches from July 24 – August 10.
- The Hellenic Community establishes a Scholarship program for outstanding secondary and university level students. As well, the “Michael Chikites Memorial St. George’s Greek Orthodox Scholarship” is established through the descendants of a dedicated community pioneer, Michael Chikites First discussions begin for the establishment of a Hellenic Studies chair for Simon Fraser University.
- The Hellenic Community of Vancouver serves as host city for the Clergy-Laity Conference of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Toronto Canada from June 28 – July 5th.The Hellenic Community’s library is reorganized and catalogued and opens to the members of the Community to use. The Hellenic Community wins first prize at the Vancouver Sea Festival for its float entitled “The Boy and Dolphin”. The Hellenic Community organizes a volleyball tournament with all the Greek societies participating.
- Vancouver celebrates its 100 years. The Hellenic Community takes part in the City celebrations and sponsors a park near the Joyce Street Sky train Station. ENA, an organization for young Greek adults (18-30) is formed to hold events and activities for the youth of the Community. The Hellenic Community sponsors the Kalamata Earthquake Relief Fund which was chaired by the Messinian Brotherhood of British Columbia. On November 3rd, St. George Greek Orthodox Church is elevated to the status of Honorary Cathedral by his Grace, Bishop Sotiris of Toronto. The Ecclesiastical Choir is formed after many years of absence and performs on Sundays and high holy days. The Hellenic Community organizes a basketball tournament inviting ethnic communities from all over the Vancouver area to participate. The National and Hellenic Canadian Congress of British Columbia is formed. The Hellenic Community is one of its founding members.
- Easter Services from St. George Greek Orthodox is broadcast on the CBC with His Grace, Bishop Sotiris of Toronto Canada and Rev. D. Partsafas officiating. Meeting of the Commonwealth nations in Vancouver. The Hellenic Community and the Cyprus Federation host various events
- The Hellenic Chorus of Vancouver is established. A non-profit society that performs throughout various cultural events in the City of Vancouver and Province of British Columbia.
- The “HSFC” Healthier, Safer, Family and Community Committee is established under the sponsorship of the Hellenic Community. It is an education committee of concerned people of Hellenic descent who came together to discuss and promote health and social issues. The committee presented various seminars and lectures on a regular basis to promote a healthy lifestyle and to strengthen families. The Hellenic Community in cooperation with the Hellenic Canadian Congress of British Columbia carries out various fundraising events for the establishment of the Hellenic Studies Chair at Simon Fraser University. The total amount raised was $500,000.The Hellenic Community Centre is completely paid and the Community is granted clear title on October 28th.
- A cenotaph is built outside the Cathedral and the Community Centre as a result of the generous donations from AHEPA Chapter 26. The cenotaph serves as a place for dedications on important religious days such as October 28th (OXI Day) and March 25th (Greek Independence Day).The Hellenic Community focuses fundraising for a different type of seniors home to meet the need of its aging members. The Seniors Housing Project Committee is formed to work over the next 3 years for the establishment of a long term care facility adjacent to the Cathedral. The Hellenic Community supports the formation of the Greek Soccer Association, an organized league for the Greek youth. The league has 7 teams.
- Parent-tot programs as well as preschool and kindergarten programs are developed to meet the needs of parents with young children. The first of these programs, the “Melissakia” begins in 1996.Exterior and interior renovations are done within the Community Centre to meet the requirement of several Community programs and activities. New classrooms and meeting rooms are built. A “Night of the Arts” is organized with great success! The night showcases the talents of the members of our Community through song, dance and playing musical instruments. The establishment of the Council of Hellenes Abroad “SAE”. The Hellenic Community of Vancouver is a representative organization in this new organization.
- The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America is reorganized which establishes the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto (Canada). Bishop Sotiris is elevated to Metropolitan. The Hellenic Community hosts a lecture, poetry, and video and slide presentation in honor of the Summer Olympic Games.
- Proposed plans of the Community’s “Seniors Congregated Care Facility” are presented to the members of the Community. The Hellenic Community of Vancouver Greek Dance Group is formed.
- All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I visits Canada in May and officiates the Service of Vespers on the evening of May 26th at St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral. A dinner is held in his honor at which over 500 faithful were in attendance. Valley Drive is bestowed with an honorary title of “Patriarch Bartholomew Way”
- The Hellenic Community introduces major changes in its constitution and by-laws. Reverend Demitrios Partsafas celebrates 25 years of service as priest of St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral. The Hellenic Community acquires additional property adjacent to the Community Centre.
- The Hellenic Community enters into negotiations for the purchase of 1,000 plots at Valley View Cemetery in Surrey for the needs of our Community.
- The Hellenic Community fundraises and donates $5,000 to the Variety Club Telethon. The following year donations increase to $15,000.First Annual “Mother’s Day Walkathon” is held on May 13th raising over $20,000, with partial proceeds being donated to the Children’s Miracle Network.
- The Hellenic Community celebrates 75 years! Events that take place include a Gala evening, a commemorative book and initial plans and approval from the Vancouver Parks Board for the creation of Hellenic Gardens at Quilchena Park. As part of the celebrations, the mayor of Athens, His Worship Dimitri Avramopoulos and members of the council of Athens visit Vancouver.