Community Board

Surrey Cares Community Foundation launches fourth Vital Signs report on quality of life in Surrey

Growing First Peoples Population Still Needs Ongoing Support to Ensure Education, Employment, Housing, Healthcare and Engagement.

The First Peoples 2018 Vital Signs Report released by SurreyCares Community Foundation confirms that Surrey needs to continue expanding services and programs for First Peoples because Surrey is heading to be the city with the most Aboriginal in BC.

As Surrey’s population rapidly increases to eventually be the projected largest populated city in British Columbia, the number of Aboriginal people is also increasing to make Surrey the city with the most First Nations people in the province. But there are still needs for citizens, societies, school district, health sector, businesses and the municipality to address the concerns expressed by First Peoples. “At SurreyCares, we believe that greater awareness is the first step toward improving connections and relationships in our community. This report aims to help residents of Surrey to better understand the living experience of our Aboriginal neighbours,” said Jeff Hector, Board Chair of SurreyCares Community Foundation.

First Peoples living or working in Surrey participated in surveys or on the advisory committee for the research for the report. Larissa Petrillo, First Peoples Advisory Committee Chair notes that, “Given the historical legacy of misrepresenting First Peoples’ lives and experiences, the committee served as critical advocates for a wide range of community members.” About 3.7% of Surrey’s 500,000 population are First Peoples. The 2016 Census counted 13,460 Indigenous people living in Surrey. However, the Fraser Region Aboriginal Friendship Centre Association (FRAFCA) located in Surrey City Centre states that number could be up to 16,000 indigenous people in Surrey.

The SurreyCares 2018 First Peoples Vital Signs Report states that almost a third (3,660) of Surrey’s First Peoples are under age 14 whereas just 805 First People are elders older than 65 years of age. In 2011, Surrey had the second highest number of people identified as Aboriginal in Metro Vancouver with 10,955 of them accounting as 21% of the region’s aboriginal population when the City of Vancouver had 23% of that population.

In 2016 in BC, 270,585 individuals, or 5.9% of the province’s population, identified themselves as Aboriginal. The City of Surrey is actively respecting, engaging and assisting Indigenous people. The 2018 Vital Signs report, published as part of a national program led by Community Foundations of Canada, presents a snapshot of Surrey’s vitality and well-being, bringing together local data and knowledge on a wide range of interconnected topics from health and housing to education and the environment.

Notable highlights from Surrey’s 2018 First Peoples Vital Signs report

  • First Peoples in Surrey are a small but growing population. Most of the people who took our survey (41%) have lived in Surrey for more than 10 years.
  • In terms of belonging, all of those who took our survey reported being comfortable with their Aboriginal identity.
  • Most of those surveyed (72%) said they have never been in foster care.
  • Despite suffering a history of injustice at the hands of colonizers, most of the First Peoples who responded to our survey (73%) have confidence in their local police force.
  • Compared to the growing number of young people, the number of Elders is small. Elders are a vital source of information for First Peoples, and especially for children and youth.

Surrey’s 2018 Vital Signs report is being launched Tuesday, February 27th, bringing together leaders and decision-makers within the community and provoking a discussion about how to tackle some of the key issues raised in the publication. Vital Signs reports are available at The publications on our site are used year-round by the foundation to build local knowledge, set strategic priorities, inform granting and engage in community leadership activities.

SurreyCares Community Foundation is one of 191 community foundations across Canada. More than 85 communities across Canada and around the world use Vital Signs to mobilize the power of community knowledge for greater local impact. For more information about Vital Signs or to access other local reports, visit |

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