‘We Are Hockey’ Hits the Ice : Exhibit Opens at the Sikh Heritage Museum

On March 29th, 2019, the South Asian Studies Institute at the University of the Fraser Valley hosted the opening reception for the ‘We Are Hockey’ exhibit. This exhibit is a vibrant, historically rich, counter narrative of Canada’s beloved sport: hockey. Centered on the experiences of peoples of colour, this exhibit challenges singularly racial perspectives on the meaning of Hockey as Canada’s national sport while negotiating the often ambivalent, yet very relevant interrogations of race, ethnicity and the privilege and power of settler communities.

The opening reception was a great event with a strong community presence and an overall positive feel surrounding the Gur Sikh Temple underneath a sunny evening sky. The Vancouver Canucks, as a community partner, brought a large hockey inflatable for the kids to play within the courtyard, and the fun-loving mascot, Fin, was on scene to take pictures and sign autographs. 

The exhibit hall was filled with hockey fans and museum goers of all diversities and ages, adding to the atmosphere of the exhibit and really emphasizing the desire to learn from the theme of ‘We Are Hockey.’ 

The keynote speeches by Randip Janda and Harnaryan Singh (commentators on Hockey Night in Canada: Punjabi Edition), were an essential piece to the exhibit opening’s theme around racial diversity in the sport of ice hockey. In discussing a lack of recognition for South Asian hockey history, Randip Janda noted in his keynote that: “Its an unspoken history, an unrecognized history, and that is something that we as a community have been trying to tell,  but there’s never been a vessel, now there is one.” Haranrayan Singh connected hockey to his own personal faith and saying that being able “[t]o see hockey and Gurdwara married together today [was] just so special and so heartwarming.”

Dr. Joanne Maclean, UFV President and Vice-Chancellor provided a welcome address from UFV. Mike De Jong (MLA), Jati Sidhu (MP), Henry Braun (Mayor of Abbotsford), and Perm Jawanda (VP, Partner Retail, Rogers) also each provided positive words of support and added weight to the significance of the exhibit.

We are grateful to Dr. Courtney Szto, whose PhD research has helped shape the exhibit. Without her thought provoking and much needed research, the exhibit would not have come to fruition.

The support from the sponsors: Rogers, Cross-Connect Media, and the community sponsors: Vancouver Canucks, Apna Hockey, SFU Communications, was phenomenal and helped bring this incredible story to life.

This free exhibit remains open for one year for all to visit and explore Monday to Sunday from 10am – 4 pm.

The entire exhibit elements are available online for viewing, by visiting: https://www.southasiancanadianheritage.ca/we-are-hockey/ 

Click here to view all images of the opening reception: