Fans want Punjabi hockey broadcasts back

Cancelled NHL show credited for uniting South Asian families

Hockey Night in Canada Punjabi hosts interviewed in 2008 on CBC’s The Hour.



South Asian hockey fans are mobilizing again to try to save the Punjabi language broadcast of Hockey Night in Canada after the CBC cancelled the show last week.

A spokesman said CBC was unable to secure a sponsor to offset the production cost.

But fans of the weekly specialty cable TV show say it’s a cultural phenomenon that helps reconnect generations of Indo-Canadian families and tighten ties to Canada and the national sport.

Supporters on a 4,000-strong Facebook group devoted to the show are hoping the CBC relents.

“We want it back,” said Surrey student Jasmine Samra, adding even elderly family members get swept up in hockey fever.

“Bring back Hockey Night in Punjabi,” wrote Jaspreet Jessica Kaur Ghag on Facebook. “How is there a lack of support?”

Amarinder Singh, who co-hosts the program with Harnarayan Singh, said he’s getting 20 to 30 similar messages a day from viewers in the Lower Mainland, many of them from Surrey.

“We have a huge following in Surrey,” he said. “I think it had a lot to do with the Canucks in the finals last year.”

Many South Asian fans joined spontaneous street celebrations in Surrey and Abbotsford during the team’s Stanley Cup playoff run. Hundreds of jersey-wearing, flag-waving Canucks’ fans – largely South Asian – would celebrate after games at the intersection of 72 Avenue and Scott Road.

Despite the crowds, Surrey gatherings remained peaceful, even after the team’s heartbreaking Game 7 loss to the Boston Bruins, which sparked a full-on riot in downtown Vancouver.

Balwant Sanghera, president of the Punjabi Language Education Association, was part of a petition campaign that persuaded CBC executives to back down when they tried to scrap the show a year ago.

“I think it’s gone a long way in promoting national unity and national pride,” the Richmond resident said, adding he hopes the show is restored.

Besides introducing more Punjabi speakers to hockey, he said, it’s been a way for parents, grandparents and children to bond over a shared interest.

“It brings three generations together,” Sanghera said. “It’s extremely beneficial to the community and to the country as a whole.”

There are nearly 800,000 Punjabi speakers in Canada and it’s the most spoken language after English in cities such as Surrey and Abbotsford.

The CBC has indicated the Punjabi broadcast, which started as a test in 2008, could return during the playoffs.

And Singh said he’s optimistic a new sponsor will be found much sooner, putting the show back on the air within a couple of months.

That means Punjabi hockey fans could once again be hearing play-by-play calls like “mahriaa shot, keeta goal!” – the show’s translation of “he shoots, he scores.”

Hosts opted to use some English words where Punjabi equivalents don’t exist or don’t translate well.

There’s no Punjabi word for puck, for example, so they eventually settled on “tikki” – the word for a disk-shaped Indian potato appetizer.

And since “barf” is Punjabi for ice they’ve stuck with the English word instead of saying a player “barfed” the puck.

PHOTO: Hockey Night in Canada Punjabi co-hosts Harnarayan Singh (left) and Amarinder Singh (right) with Hockey Night in Canada’s Don Cherry.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kevin Fowler of Abbotsford won almost $57,000 in the Lotto 6/49 drawn from Aug. 15. (Submitted photo)
Abbotsford man wins almost $57K in Lotto 6/49

Kevin Fowler matches five out of six numbers, using dog’s age and other numbers

A testing kit can determine the levels of radon in a home. Abbotsford participated in the 2019 100 Radon Test Kit Challenge, and results were released on Oct. 29, 2020. (Image by TakeActionOnRadon from Pixabay)
11 Abbotsford homes had unsafe radon levels following testing

Total of 82 houses tested as part of 100 Radon Test Kit Challenge

Everett Silvertips’ Gage Gonclaves fights with Spokane Chiefs’ Filip Kral for the puck during the game on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020 in Everett, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Mission’s Gage Goncalves invited to Hockey Canada’s World Juniors selection camp

Goncalves was recently drafted to the NHL in the 2nd round by the Tampa Bay Lightning

Poppy donation boxes will be in place at businesses and organizations across Abbotsford for the 2020 Royal Canadian Legion poppy campaign. (Black Press photo)
In-person poppy locations down, collection boxes increase in Abbotsford

2020 Royal Canadian Legion campaign impacted by COVID-19 pandemic

The former Matsqui-Sumas-Hospital lands are being returned to the Matsqui First Nation. (Submitted)
Abbotsford lands returned to Matsqui First Nation

Nine acres of MSA Hospital lands set to be redeveloped in the coming years

A woman wears a face mask and plastic gloves while browsing books as a sticker on the floor indicates a one-way direction of travel between shelves of books at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch, after it and four other branches reopened with limited services, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
B.C. reports 234 new COVID cases, 1 death of senior who had attended small birthday party

Roughly 5,700 people are isolating due to being exposed to a confirmed case

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks Thursday (Oct. 29) during a news conference held at Fraser Health office, in video posted to Facebook. (Photo: Government of British Columbai/Facebook)
COVID-19 ‘disproportionately’ affecting Fraser Health: Henry

Health region has about 75 per cent of B.C.’s active cases

Burnaby RCMP responded to a dine-and-dash suspect who fell through a ceiling in March 2020. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Suspected dine-and-dasher falls through ceiling of Burnaby restaurant

A woman believed to be dashing on her restaurant bill fell through the kitchen ceiling

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A can of Canada Dry Ginger Ale is shown in Toronto on Thursday Oct. 29, 2020. The maker of Canada Dry Ginger Ale has agreed to pay over $200,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit launched by a B.C. man who alleged he was misled by marketing suggesting the soda had medicinal benefits. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Joseph O’Connal
B.C. man’s lawsuit over marketing of Canada Dry ginger ale settled for $200K

Soda’s maker, Canada Dry Mott’s Inc., denied the allegations and any liability

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Vancouver Island-based Wilson’s Transportation has expanded to fill some of the routes left unserviced by Greyhound as of Nov. 1, 2018. (Black Press files)
B.C. bus companies say they need help to survive COVID-19

Like airlines, motor coaches have lost most of their revenue

A deer was spotted in October 2020 in Prince Rupert, B.C., with a bright pink yoga ball stuck in its antlers. (Kayla Vickers/Chronicles Of Hammy The Deer Official Page)
Hammy 2.0? Prince Rupert deer spotted with bright pink yoga ball stuck in antlers

The BC Conservation Officer Service is aware of the deer roaming around the city

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Kelowna Mountie hit with 2nd lawsuit in 2 months for alleged assault

Const. Julius Prommer is accused of breaking a woman’s knee during while responding to a noise complaint

Most Read