Sukhpreet Singh wants to bring back Hockey Night in Canada: Punjabi edition. Starting in 2008, the Punjabi edition of Hockey Night was broadcast for free online and television on Saturday nights.
On October 6, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation announced that it was cancelling the program due to lack of funds and viewership.
But beyond the hard numbers, Singh points to the intangible impact of the broadcasts: “All across Canada, the Punjabi community has latched onto this. All the generations — from grandpa to the little children — have come together to watch Canada’s sport in their native language,” he said to the CBC.
Singh also points at the large numbers of Punjabi speakers in Canada as a key factor in his petition to bring back the broadcasts. Punjabi is the fifth most spoken language in Canada , according to figures from the latest census.
Singh’s Facebook group for the broadcasts has over 3,700 members. On the group wall, members posted supportive messages expressing their desire for more broadcasts. One member wrote:
“Wow. I was waiting for the broadcast tonight and didn’t see the channel. and then i looked it up and just read that its off air! This is so disappointing! I used to enjoy watching all the games in Punjabi. i don’t understand it myself but my parents and other family members do. i know enough about hockey to not need to understand the commentary so i didn’t mind. it brought our whole family together and made us proud that we live in Canada. i guess this will be no more.”
There is hope yet: while the broadcasts are cancelled for the regular season, CBC spokesman Peter Keay states that broadcasts in Punjabi and other languages may be brought back during the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Supporters of a more inclusive Hockey Night in Canada can show their support by signing Singh’s online petition.