‘We Are Hockey’ exhibit goes beyond game, offering important conversations about culture, society


This is a column by Shireen Ahmed, who writes opinion for CBC Sports. For extra data about CBC’s Opinion part, please see the FAQ.

“You want to come back to the ‘We Are Hockey’ exhibit,” my buddy mentioned to me.

When it involves hockey-related points, I at all times take heed to Dr.Courtney Szto. She is one in all Canada’s best hockey students — the managing editor of Hockey in Society — and an assistant professor of kinesiology at Queen’s University.

She did her PhD on hockey tradition and South Asian Canadians. Her analysis strengthened her connection to the South Asian Studies Institute (SASI) on the University of Fraser Valley in B.C. Prior to her undertaking, the tales of individuals of color and the contributions of cultural communities in hockey have been seldom being instructed. Sure, there may be Hockey Night in Canada Punjabi Edition, however what about the origin story of these broadcasters?

A collaboration with some devoted lecturers, together with Dr. Satwinder Kaur Bains of SASI and her group, resulted within the creation of an unimaginable exhibit referred to as “We Are Hockey” that first launched in 2019 on the Sikh Heritage Temple in Abbotsford, B.C. When COVID-19 hit, the chance to share this important exhibit with the neighborhood was placed on maintain — till now.

The exhibit is at present on show on the Peel Art Gallery Museum and Archives (PAMA) in Brampton, Ont., simply northwest of Toronto, and that is the place I went this previous Saturday. The exhibit is housed in one of many 4 historic buildings that make up PAMA. It is a particular a part of Brampton that reveals historical past and has important conversations about tradition and society. 

What makes this collaboration notably particular is the way in which that hockey is obtainable to the neighborhood by the lens of individuals of color. There is a superb historical past and a motion inside the sport of girls, racialized gamers, broadcasters, lecturers and sports activities journalists who love the game and have tales to inform and tales to guard.

L to R: Dr. Courtney Szto, Saroya Tinker, Amrit Gill. (Submitted by Herman Custodio)

Disseminating data by schooling and inclusion are key parts of why this interactive exhibit is so impactful. At the opening, youngsters got here and colored small paper hockey jerseys, made clay figures of hockey gamers and noticed shows of hockey media, gamers and coaches who’re racialized. There are stunning pictures, numerous jerseys on show, a video reel, gloves, a hockey stick and a lot extra. It is obtainable in a brightly-lit house with a educated employees who’re joyful to reply questions. 

Claire Bennett is the curator at PAMA and he or she collaborated with SASI and Dr. Szto to develop the present and guarantee it was good. PAMA is the primary venue the place “We Are Hockey” is being displayed outdoors of B.C. Bennett mentioned the hope is that the exhibit garners extra curiosity from totally different museums throughout Canada and might journey to different areas.

At the opening there was a panel dialogue moderated by Dr. Szto with Amrit Gill, one of many hosts of Hockey Night Punjabi and a producer with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, and Saroya Tinker, a professional hockey participant with Toronto 6ix of the Premier Hockey Federation and the manager director of Black Girl Hockey Canada.

As we watched three racialized ladies on a panel discussing hockey tradition, their journeys and why this exhibit and collaboration with PAMA was so vital, I couldn’t assist however really feel uplifted. It was a far cry type what I had been feeling about hockey as of late. Educating the broader neighborhood about lived experiences in hockey is at all times a good way to solidify connections. 

I used to be very excited to have the chance to take heed to their highly effective voices and I ended up live-tweeting the occasion. 

One of essentially the most compelling issues about this panel of racialized ladies was not solely the range of their cultures and races and the way they linked to hockey, however the areas they occupy in Canada’s most beloved sport: educational, broadcaster, {and professional} participant.

I requested the panel what was the best praise that they had acquired. Tinker mentioned she is instructed by the numerous mentees she has that she is so assured. She mentioned that they see a “glowing Black girl” and he or she needs she may have glowed earlier in her life. Her dedication to youth is unimaginable.

Gill mentioned she feels deeply the thanks she will get from the elders in her neighborhood, whereas Dr. Szto mentioned that from the attitude of an educator, she feels grateful to have the ability to work with gamers and provide them the language to make use of to fight techniques of oppression in hockey.

As the packed room listened to those intrepid faces of hockey, it was arduous to not really feel invigorated. While the latest revelations about the tradition of hockey have left us feeling discouraged, this was a really deserved breath of recent air. 

Presently, hockey in Canada is fraught with disappointments and mistrust. If neighborhood companions and museums are capable of share this present, it provides the general public a chance to describe to hockey in a way that’s highly effective and lasting. The exhibit is on show till April 30, 2023

This is an exhibit for sports activities lovers, neighborhood people and everybody in between. Many characters on this hockey story are working and succeeding in actual time. We get to see their tales captured as they proceed to make a distinction within the hockey panorama. 


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