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Preview: We are Hockey

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UFV’s South Asian Studies Institute (SASI) welcomes any and all individuals who are interested in the history of our nation’s favourite sport, hockey, to attend an exhibition that will showcase and celebrate Canadian diversity while illuminating the history of erasure present within the popular sport. The opening reception for this exhibition will take place this Friday, March 29 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the Sikh Heritage Museum in Abbotsford.

The purpose of the exhibit is to question who the “we” is in Canadian hockey. The sport remains an iconic phenomena for Canadians across the world, but certain details regarding the racial history of hockey are often ignored. This event is an opportunity to celebrate Canada’s unsung hockey heroes.

The idea for this exhibition first sprouted when SASI was approached a year ago by Dr. Courtney Szto, an assistant professor at Queen’s University who recently received her PhD from SFU. Her dissertation observed the troubling erasure of people of colour from Canadian hockey history, and suggests that the privilege of being able to choose how history is re-told is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. By negating the contributions that Canadians of colour have made to our nation’s favourite sport, we deny certain citizens visibility and legitimacy.

“The power of Hockey Night Punjabi is as a symbol of what is possible in Canada — of the Canada that could exist,” said Dr. Szto. “The broadcast has created space for marginalized stories and racialized talent to grab mainstream attention, which both legitimizes ethnic media and expands the agenda for mainstream sports media. It proves that multiple narratives about hockey can exist in Canada and for the betterment of the game and Canadian society.”

There will be a number of speakers at the launch, including UFV’s president and vice-chancellor, Dr. Joanne MacLean. The keynote speakers will be two regular commentators of Hockey Night in Canada: Punjabi Edition, Randip Janda and Harnarayan Singh. The two will speak about the power of language, and how it has played a crucial role in changing how ice hockey is presented to Canadian audiences. Punjabis have a rich connection to the sport of hockey, which has been demonstrated by the success of Hockey Night Punjabi since it began broadcasting in 2008.

SASI is also ecstatic to announce that the Vancouver Canucks themselves will be making an appearance at the launch. They are acting as a community partner for the exhibit, and will be setting up an inflatable hockey game for young children in attendance.

In addition to making a loud and proud statement about the history of hockey, through this exhibit SASI will be showcasing the talent of UFV graduates and undergraduates. Recent UFV graphic design graduate Satinder Dhillon designed the entire exhibit. Also, current UFV business student Shan Dhaliwal led the social media strategy, and UFV computer information systems student Harshal Patel led the web presence leading up to the event.

Students interested in volunteering for the opening reception can contact SASI at sasi@ufv.ca. If you are unable to dedicate your time as a volunteer, SASI still encourages all students, staff, faculty, and community members to attend and engage with the research, stories, and artifacts to broaden their own learning on this meaningful topic.

Those who miss the opening reception need not fret, for the exhibition will be on display for a full year until March 2020. Both the museum and National Historic Site are open seven days a week from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Image: Shan Dhaliwal

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