Hockey Night in Punjabi back in Canada

By Gurmukh Singh, IANS
Friday, December 3, 2010

TORONTO - The running commentary in Punjabi on the National Hockey League (NHL) for Canada’s popular sport of ice hockey is back on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).

Canada’s national broadcaster, which started the Punjabi commentary on the widely popular NHL in 2008 on the demand of the more than 500,000-strong Punjabi community, announced in October to stop the broadcast this year because of its costs. But under pressure from the community and politicians, the CBC has decided to restore the Punjabi commentary which has garnered a huge response across Canada.

Called Hockey Night in Punjabi, the weekend broadcast for the NHL season which ends in April will resume Saturday, according to the network.

Punjabi is the sixth largest spoken language in Canada after English, French, Chinese, Italian and German, though it is already at the fourth position in the province of British Columbia where most of the Sikh community lives.

But with the last census showing a 35 per cent increase in its speakers since 2001, Punjabi is set to become the fourth largest spoken language in Canada.

The wide popularity of ice hockey in the Indo-Canadian community has prompted actor Akshay Kumar to make his Hollywood debut film ‘Break Away’ around the theme of this sport.

Welcoming the return of Hockey Night in Punjabi in Canada, opposition MP Peter Julian said, “This is a victory for Canadians, especially Punjabi families across the country who became fans of the broadcast and became fans of the game of hockey.

“Last month, we joined the community’s campaign to save the broadcast and outlined our concerns to the minister and government. It was devastating to the community to lose such a programme that brought generations of a family together.”

Added MP Charlie Angus, “The census identifies Punjabi as the fourth most common language spoken in Canada and we know Punjabis play a vital role in the community.

“We are happy that CBC recognizes this and is taking steps towards reflecting that through language-specific programming.”

(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at

Filed under: Hockey

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