WINNIPEG, Nov. 29, 2023 – The Winnipeg Jets are gearing up for their second annual South Asian Heritage Night presented by Canada Life on Saturday, Dec. 16, at 6 p.m. when they go head-to-head against the Colorado Avalanche. The game celebrates Manitoba’s vibrant South Asian community with the incorporation of food, music, dancing and art.
Marking a historic moment in both NHL and professional sports history, the Amber Trails School choir, predominantly comprised of students of South Asian descent, will perform the American national anthem, as well as a Punjabi and English version of O Canada. Their performance will be the first time the Canadian national anthem will be sung in Punjabi at a major professional sporting event. Punjabi has recently become Canada’s third most spoken language behind the two official languages.
Pre-game entertainment will include the music of many regions influenced by South Asian culture, spun by DJs of South Asian heritage: DJ Hira representing Punjabi music, DJ General B representing the West Indian community, and DJ Nish focusing on Bollywood-style music. The Winnipeg Punjabi Arts Academy will present dance and lively drum/dhol performances pre-game on the concourse with the Indian School of Dance delivering a special performance in the bowl during intermission.
Canada Life Centre Executive Chef Richard Duncan has collaborated with Chef Vishwajit Bhati, originally from and culinarily trained in India, to offer South Asian features. They will include traditional butter chicken and saag paneer bowls, tandoori chicken pizza, and sweet treat gulab jamun at various concession locations.
The game will once again honour individuals of South Asian descent who are positively impacting sport and the community. They include:
- Dampy Brar – a former professional hockey player who has played in the WCHL, IHL and ECHL, and who was honoured with the 2020 Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award for his work in growing the game through Apna Hockey;
- Randeep Sidhu-Saini – founder and co-chair of Punjabi Community Health Services Manitoba, an organization established in 2022 to support the health, social and settlement needs of South Asian communities, inclusive of mental health and addictions support – and which is the recipient organization of the South Asian Heritage Night fundraising efforts;
- Reetu Chahal – a Winnipeg-born Special Olympian and multi-medal winner in powerlifting, most recently winning three bronze medals at this summer’s World Special Olympic Games in Berlin;
- Vivek Bhangria – a Winnipeg-born Canadian World Dwarf athlete who earlier this year competed as part of Team Canada in his fourth World Dwarf Games in Australia; and
- Armaan Dhillon – a Winnipeg-born Manitoba Female High School Provincial Golf Champion, currently a member of the University of Victoria Golf Team who has competed all over North America.
To further highlight the rich heritage of the South Asian community and their significant contribution to hockey, the Winnipeg Jets will bring elements of the “We Are Hockey” exhibit to Canada Life Centre for the South Asian Heritage game. Set to open at hockey for all centre Dec. 6, the exhibit centres on the experiences of people of colour and challenges the linear meaning of “Hockey as Canada’s national sport.” The exhibit was curated by Dr. Satwinder Kaur Bains of the South Asian Studies Institute at the University of the Fraser Valley.
Limited edition team-issued Winnipeg Jets South Asian Heritage jerseys – featuring the intricate and vibrant logo collaboratively designed by True North, local designer Charmi Sheth, and Waseem Shaikh of Ethnicity Matters – will be available for auction on the concourse at the game, in support of PCHS Manitoba.
Additional jerseys will be available through an online auction at auctions.nhl.com/WinnipegJets from Friday Jan. 12, 2024 to Sunday Jan. 21, 2024.
An expanded line of South Asian Heritage clothing and merchandise will be available at Jets Gear and online at TrueNorthShop.com leading up to the South Asian Heritage Night game.
As part of True North’s efforts to grow the game at a grassroots level, a collaboration with Apna Hockey launched the inaugural Apna/Jets Bauer First Shift program. The six-week introduction to hockey has provided an opportunity for more than 120 kids, mostly from the South Asian community, to be outfitted with full hockey equipment and learn from Apna Hockey instructors. Many of these new skaters will continue on with the program’s “Second Shift” in April 2024. More information is available at hockeyforallcentre.com.
For ticket information, please visit WinnipegJets.com/TICKETS.