A classic Canuck character with an Indian twist has created a new folk hero.
He was brought to life amidst the banging drums and screaming Canuck fans on the corner of 72nd Avenue and Scott Road in Surrey and now PunJohnny Canuck has taken on a life of his own throughout Vancouver.
If you’ve seen PunJohnny darting around Stanley Park on his roller blades or jumping off the Skytrain at Rogers Arena with his Canucks jersey, thick black beard and hockey stick completed with a blue turban and traditional Indian costume, you surely won’t forget him.
Mohan Vinning is a die-hard Canuck fan who knew after a night of celebrating a Canucks win during their 2011 Stanley Cup Final run he had to create the PunJohnny Canuck character.
Growing up in the small town of Houston, BC, Vinning's first time watching and celebrating a Canucks win on the raucous Surrey street corner was a life changing moment.
“When you’ve got five guys playing the drums, or the dhol, and there are firecrackers going off and elderly people waving their flags out the windows, screaming, it’s a crazy experience.” Vinning said.
“Seeing all different cultures come out to 72nd and Scott Road, be it younger people or older people or people that just came to Canada. All of that was basically what inspired me to create the character that people can chuckle about, have fun with and get behind.”
While Vinning says he created the character as a fun way to putting an Indian spin on the traditional Johnny Canuck character, he also believes the Canucks and hockey in general are a means for many Canadian families to meet and become introduced to Canadian culture.
“You’ve got Indian guys from Surrey who are some of the best hockey players around. Or you talk to the eldery people in Surrey and they go way back with hockey as a means to getting to know everyone.” said Vinning. ”It goes pretty deep around here.”
Getting used to his new found fame has been an adjustment, but it’s a welcome change to his life.
“I’m probably on so many different people’s computers now it’s crazy. But it’s been a lot of fun. I get people running up to me when I get off the SkyTrain, or when I’m getting a coffee I’ve got Chinese and Indian taxi drivers giving me thumbs up. It’s been great.”
Whether he’s been swarmed by eager camera wielding crowds entering Rogers Arena or banging a drum on 72nd and Scott Road, Vinning wants to encourage Canucks fans to celebrate in their own style.
“Every fan is going to be different. There are going to be different people with different beliefs and I'm just showing that not everyone needs to assimilate into your typical hockey fan,” Vinning explained.
“Like the Canucks motto, 'Our Team Our Way', each fan is going to say 'My Team My Way'.”
Mohan continues to cheer on his team his way, currently filming his PunJohnny Canuck Rises fan video which he says will be coming out soon.
So from the streets of Surrey to downtown Vancouver, keep your head up for PunJohnny Canuck cheering on his team.