Julie Cairnie is an Associate Professor in the School of English and Theatre Studies at the University of Guelph. Her research focuses on connections between southern African and Canadian literatures and contexts; postcolonial sport, especially hockey and running; and Zimbabwean childhood narratives.
Sport is one of the key recommendations in the TRC’s final report, and it is imperative that scholars of sport literature and culture take this seriously. Hockey, as Canada’s national sport, is a critical place to begin. It is assumed that hockey is unifying, but it is a “contact zone” (Pratt) where “players” present competing narratives about the meaning of hockey, “our game,” in a post-TRC (Truth and Reconciliation Commission) Canada. Here I present a contact zone reading of two books about hockey: Stephen Harper’s A Great Game (2013) and Richard Wagamese’s Indian Horse (2012). The books were published a year apart and each one has national significance: Harper’s history was published when he was the sitting Prime Minister, and Wagamese’s novel was a strong contender in CBC’s “Canada Reads” in 2013. Harper presents a neat progress narrative (from amateur to professional hockey), while Wagamese refuses the conventional narrative of hockey development and progress, and tracks the movement away from professional to community-based hockey. In Indian Horse both hockey and masculinities undergo a process of truth and reconciliation, and hockey is provided a far more nuanced narrative than Harper’s text allows.
Canadian Literature issue 237, House, Home, Hospitality, is available to order through our online store.