UFV SASI director Satwinder Bains (left), along with social media strategist Shan Dhaliwal and coordinator Sharanjit Sandhra, are some of the brains behind the new We Are Hockey exhibit at Gur Sikh Temple in Abbotsford, which debuts on March 29. Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News

Race and sport examined at new We Are Hockey exhibit in Abbotsford

UFV SASI hosting exhibit looking at hockey history and race

The sport of hockey is set to be celebrated through a unique lens later this month at Abbotsford’s Gur Sikh Temple.

The South Asian Studies Institute at the University of the Fraser Valley presents the We Are Hockey exhibit, opening March 29.

Organizers say the exhibit has been curated to challenge the visitor to interrogate who the “we” is in Canadian hockey and the particular meanings of a very personal attachment to its iconic status for Canadians across the country.

The exhibit has been created as a counter narrative to Canadian ice hockey as a “whites only” sport. Curated on the experiences of peoples of colour, it challenges the linear meaning of hockey as Canada’s national sport.

SASI director Satwinder Bains said the exhibit features artifacts, memorabilia, photographs and stories that have great historical breadth, reflecting the often conflict-laden Canadian responses to players of colour.

“These players have often been relegated to the margins in favour of a popular understanding of hockey as a white man’s game,” Bains said.

She added she hopes to see all types of hockey fans at the free exhibit.

“I’m hoping people come and broaden their horizons and understand this is an iconic sport but it has its dark history as well and they understand our role in not just talking about South Asians but of all people of all backgrounds to find a common humanity and to carry on the fight against racism and discrimination,” she said. “Hockey is often celebratory but there is a dark underbelly that needs to be discussed as well.”

Items include a Manny Malhotra game-worn Vancouver Canucks jersey, a timeline and history of players of colour in ice hockey, a centre stage set up for Hockey Night Punjabi, and much more.

The opening reception on March 29 includes a Canucks Community Partnership, featuring a visit by mascot Fin and giveaways. Special guests include Harnarayan Singh and Randip Janda from Hockey Night in Canada’s Punjabi edition.

The event kicks off at 5 p.m. on March 29, and will run for approximately one year at the temple.

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