It was another in Winnipeg as the Jets take on Central Division rival, the Chicago Blackhawks, and it’s not just any ordinary game! It’s the Jets’ first-ever South Asian Heritage Night, and Harnarayan Singh, Hockey Night in Canada’s play-by-play hockey broadcaster, was thrilled to be calling the game.
Singh, who’s been calling games for two seasons, is a big believer in the power of cultural initiatives to create a sense of belonging and inclusivity in hockey. Growing up in Brooks, Alta., he faced racism and discrimination at hockey games, but his love for the game kept him going. Singh believes that initiatives like the South Asian Heritage Night could have helped him feel more included as a fan and encouraged an untapped fan base within the South Asian community in Winnipeg and Manitoba.
Charmi Sheth, a graphic design artist from India who moved to Winnipeg a year-and-a-half ago, is thrilled to have her logo featured on merchandise that the Jets will wear in warm-ups. The jerseys will be auctioned off to support the Punjabi Community Health Services Manitoba, and Sheth’s design features bright, colourful backgrounds inspired by the traditional South Asian art form, Rangoli. The patterns and motifs on the jersey are inspired by textiles throughout South Asia, including phulkari, bandhani, and saree.
Representing the South Asian, four community leaders were honoured with the ceremonial puck drop – Sukhvir Singh, Raj Brar, Monika Deol, and Dr. Naranjan Dhalla.
So grab some popcorn and get ready for an exciting game of hockey, because tonight is all about bringing people together and celebrating the things that make us unique. Who knows, maybe you’ll even discover a new favourite team or player, or connect with a new community of fans. After all, that’s what sports are all about!
Photos by Winnipeg Jets and Danny Truong