The “We Are Hockey” exhibition goes beyond the game, offering important conversations about culture, society

This is a column by Shireen Ahmed, who writes opinions for CBC Sports. For more information on Opinion Section of the CBCplease see the FAQ.

“You have to come to the ‘We Are Hockey’ show,” my friend told me.

When it comes to hockey-related issues, I always listen to Dr. Courtney Szto. She is one of Canada’s greatest hockey scholars, editor-in-chief of Hockey in society – and an assistant professor of kinesiology at Queen’s University.

He holds a PhD in hockey culture and South Asian Canadians. Her research strengthened her connection with the South Asian Studies Institute (SASI) at the University of Fraser Valley in BC Before her project, the stories of people of color and the contributions of cultural communities to hockey were rarely told. Sure, there is Hockey Night in Canada Punjabi Editionbut what about the origin story of those broadcasters?

A collaboration with some dedicated academics, including Dr Satwinder Kaur Bains of SASI and her team, resulted in the creation of an amazing exhibit called “We Are Hockey” First launched in 2019 at the Sikh Heritage Temple in Abbotsford, BC When COVID-19 arrived, the opportunity to share this important exhibit with the community was suspended, until now.

The exhibition is currently on display at the Peel Art Gallery Museum and Archives (PAMA) in Brampton, Ontario, just northwest of Toronto, and that’s where I went last Saturday. The exhibition is housed in one of the four historic buildings that make up PAMA. It is a special part of Brampton that exposes the story and has important conversations about the culture and society.

What makes this collaboration particularly special is the way hockey is offered to the community through the lens of people of color. There is a wonderful story and movement within the game of women, racialized players, broadcasters, academics and sports journalists who love sports and have stories to tell and stories to protect.

Left to right: Dr. Courtney Szto, Saroya Tinker, Amrit Gill. (Sent from Herman Custodio)

Dissemination of information through education and inclusion are key elements of why this interactive exhibit has such an impact. At the grand opening, the kids came and colored small paper hockey jerseys, made clay figures of hockey players, and watched performances of racialized hockey media, players and coaches. There are great photos, various jerseys on display, a video reel, gloves, a hockey stick and so much more. It is offered in a bright space with an experienced staff who will be happy to answer questions.

Claire Bennett is the curator of PAMA and collaborated with SASI and Dr. Szto to develop the exhibit and make sure it was perfect. PAMA is the first place “We Are Hockey” is exhibited outside of BC Bennett said the hope is that the exhibit will garner more interest from several museums across Canada and can travel to other spaces.

At the opening there was a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Szto with Amrit Gillone of the hosts of Punjabi hockey night and a producer with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, e Saroya Tinkera professional hockey player with Toronto 6ix of the Premier Hockey Federation and executive director of Black Girl Hockey Canada.

As we watched three racialized women at a panel discussion discuss hockey culture, their travels, and why this exhibit and collaboration with PAMA was so necessary, I couldn’t help but feel relieved. It was very different from what I had experienced in hockey lately. Educating the wider community about their hockey experiences is always a great way to solidify connections.

I was very excited to have the opportunity to hear their powerful voices and ended up tweeting the event live.

One of the most interesting things about this panel of racialized women was not just the diversity of their cultures and races and how they related to hockey, but the spaces they occupy in Canada’s most beloved sport: academic, broadcaster and female player. professional.

I asked the jury what was the biggest compliment they had received. Tinker said the many students she has told her she is so confident. She said they see a “shining black woman” and she wishes she could shine before her in her life. Her dedication to her youth is incredible.

Gill said she deeply feels the thanks she receives from the elders in her community, while Dr. Szto said that from an educator’s point of view, she feels grateful to be able to work with the players and offer them the language to use to fight. systems of oppression in hockey.

As the packed hall listened to these intrepid hockey faces, it was hard not to feel invigorated. While recent revelations about hockey culture have left us discouraged, this was a well deserved breath of fresh air.

Currently, hockey in Canada is fraught with disappointment and mistrust. If community partners and museums are able to share this show, it offers the public the opportunity to relate to hockey in a powerful and lasting way. The exhibition is on display until April 30, 2023.

This is an exhibit for sports lovers, community people and everyone else. Many characters in this hockey story are working and successful in real time. We can see their stories captured as they continue to make a difference in the hockey landscape.

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