Harnarayan Singh grew up in Brooks, Alberta, where he loved hockey and watched Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday nights – much like many of the other kids. However, Singh didn’t look like the other kids, or any of the broadcasters or analysts on the show either.
Still, Singh held on to his dreams, and became a co-host and play-by-play announcer with Hockey Night in Punjabi, later making history as the first Sikh to broadcast an NHL game in English. His story is documented in One Game at a Time: My Journey from Small-Town Alberta to Hockey’s Biggest Stage.
Singh never imagined he would write a book about his journey, especially at this stage of his life, but his publisher convinced him the timing was right to share a positive story with the public: “That despite being from a small town and being a visible minority, it was still possible to make it to hockey’s biggest stage – even if I had to pay for my own flights and sleep in airports to get there!” Singh explains.
“I realized the book would be a great way to inspire others to go for their dreams and goals.”
Edmonton writer Michael Hingston helped bring Singh’s words to life. The publisher suggested Hingston, not only because of his experience as an author, but also due to his understanding of western Canada.
Collaborating with Hingston turned out to be “an absolute blast,” says Singh. “When we first met, [Hingston] asked if I was comfortable having a white male help write my story. I was, but just the fact that he was cognizant and respectful of our uncommon upbringings and backgrounds made me realize he was going to do justice to the complexities of my story.
“Not to mention, Hingston’s passion for hockey made it a perfect fit – he also deeply comprehends how much hockey plays a role in the cultural fabric here.”
Reflecting on his life was an emotional experience for Singh. “Some of what’s written in the book are things I haven’t ever talked about before,” he says. “While the book is predominantly fun and positive, and the overall message is about never giving up on your dreams, the sad reality is that any person of colour will connect with a lot of the difficult stories on a deep and personal level having lived those experiences too.”
Singh encourages other people of colour with a dream of becoming sports broadcasters to go for it – and advises media outlets to be more diverse in their hiring practices. “Don’t let anyone ever tell you it’s impossible to make it. Look at me – if I’m here, you can do it too,” he says.
“We definitely need more representation, and one of the best ways to implement that is for more diverse people to become qualified as broadcasters, but we also need media corporations to consciously hire in a way that properly represents what Canada looks like today.”
And One Game at a Time is not just for hockey fans. Singh hopes readers will “further appreciate how important it is for us as a society to respect one another and truly value the differences each one of us brings to this great country of Canada.”