When Jag Nagra was 10-years-old, her room was filled with cut outs of many Vancouver Canucks, including Pavel Bure, the superstar who was taking the NHL by storm in the early 90s.
Nagra, who was born in Surrey and grew up in Maple Ridge, idolized The Russian Rocket, but it was more than fandom. In the multi-generational home of 12 where she grew up, watching the Canucks play was a family bonding activity. As the team became engrained in the culture of the province, Canucks games became must watch TV in the Nagra household, like so many others in British Columbia.
Jag no longer has any cut outs of Bure these days, yet her love for the Canucks is strong and will likely peak when the team hosts Vaisakhi Night, presented by TD, on Saturday, April 24th. That date was chosen in recognition of the Vaisakhi parade in Surrey, BC, that was recently cancelled due to the pandemic.
Vaisakhi, which takes place on April 13th this year, marks the start of the Hindu Solar New Year, but it is also a day to celebrate 1699 - the year when Sikhism was born as a collective faith through the teachings of the Sikh gurus.
This year's game, the fourth annual event where the Canucks celebrate the South Asian community by promoting diversity and inclusivity as part of the NHL's Hockey is for Everyone campaign, features a commemorative logo that fuses Vaisakhi with the Canucks brand. It was designed by Nagra.
The special Vaisakhi emblem incorporates the Canucks VC letter mark. The motifs and ornamentation inside the "C" are inspired by the rich history of textile and pattern design in India.
"The truck graphics that you see across India are painted in such vibrant colours and they're usually adorned with a lot of stylized typography," explained Nagra, adding that the golden yellow colours in her logo pay tribute to wheat fields in India: imagery that is often associated with Vaisakhi, the harvest festival.
Nagra, an illustrator who studied Graphic Design at the Art Institute of Vancouver and is currently serving as the Creative Director of the Punjabi Market Regeneration Collective, was in tears after reading an email she received from the Canucks requesting she reimagine their logo.
"It's such an honour, I can't even believe it," said the 36-year-old. "I can't even describe it, 10-year-old me would have been so floored that I'd be doing this as an adult. The Canucks were such a big part of my childhood, so to represent the Indian community and Vaisakhi for such an iconic sports team in our city is such an honour."
The project required a swift two-week turnaround, after which Nagra presented a couple of logo options to the Canucks design team. She's proud of the winning logo they chose, which will be used as a helmet decal, on in-arena signage, incorporated into a special Vaisakhi themed visual look for all social assets on game day, and sold at Vanbase.ca as part of a retail collection, with partial proceeds going to the Punjabi Market Regeneration Collective.
Nagra anticipates crying a few tears of pride when she sees her logo as part of the Canucks' Vaisakhi Night, but even if she wasn't playing a part, the fact that her team is celebrating her community means a lot.
"It's huge. Typically, hockey doesn't feature a lot of BIPOC players, but there are so many fans, especially in the South Asian community - we're a passionate bunch. So, it's so cool to see ourselves represented on that stage…I can't quite describe it. If I had seen that representation when I was younger, I can only imagine what that would have done for me personally as a kid."
Covid restrictions will prevent Nagra from gathering with family and friends around a TV to cheer on the Canucks on Vaisakhi Night, but she knows her phone will be lighting up in recognition of her amazing logo design.