Hockey is often considered representative of Canadian culture, but the game itself has “traditionally been represented by white players,” according to a new exhibit in Brampton, Ont.
The We Are Hockey exhibit, currently on display at the Peel Art Gallery, Museum and Archives (PAMA), challenges this idea along with racism in hockey while showcasing the experiences of people of color in the sport.
“As much as it’s an educational exhibit to help expand our understanding of hockey history in Canada, it’s also an exhibit for Black, Indigenous, and other people of colour to see themselves in and around the game,” said Courtney Szto, who devised the exhibit following an interview with Hockey Night in Canada’s Harnarayan Singh.
Szto, who has a PhD in communications, realized that many marginalized people in hockey were documenting their history, experiences, and contributions, but that these stories often were not found in public museums or halls of fame. After seeing We Are Hockey, Szto sees its effect on underrepresented groups in hockey.
“It has been really heartwarming watching children and families take in the exhibit,” Szto said. “Maybe those kids will leave with a different dream for themselves from when they walked into the exhibit.”
We Are Hockey was born with the support of, and is currently on loan from, the South Asian Studies Institute at the University of the Fraser Valley.
As part of the exhibit’s opening at PAMA, Szto participated in a panel discussion alongside Saroya Tinker, Toronto Six defender and executive director of Black Girl Hockey Club Canada, and Hockey Night in Canada: Punjabi Edition’s Amrit Gill. The trio discussed inclusion and representation in the sport and shared their unique experiences within the game.
For Gill, We Are Hockey is not just stories of adversity and racism – it’s also a celebration and demonstrates the commitment people of colour within hockey have completed and maintained in the work to create equitable space for all participants.
“The We Are Hockey exhibit challenges how the game has traditionally been viewed,” said Gill. “The exhibit provides a more inclusive narrative of hockey history and encourages diversity of thought which is a starting point in helping us achieve inclusion.
“It is no longer an anecdotal conversation about representation but rather an emphasis on education, and that’s where the impact lies,” Gill continued. “We Are Hockey showcases not only the adversity that racialized communities have faced in the sport but their commitment and continued investment on all levels.”
Within the exhibit itself, visitors can view artwork and media displays and participate in hands-on activities. They can also learn about the organizations working to create change in hockey, including Black Girl Hockey Club and the PWHPA, and the unique stories of athletes such as Jujhar Khaira, Angela James and George Armstrong. We Are Hockey will be on display at PAMA in Brampton until April 30, 2023.
- ‘We Are Hockey’ Exhibit Adds BIPOC Stories To Hockey Discourse
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