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  • Writer's pictureMartin Zeilig

CAF Sports Day in Canada

Corporal Elsie Grennier had a wide smile creasing her flushed face at the conclusion of the Bhangra Dance session in the multipurpose room of Building 90 at CAF Sports Day in Canada on October 21.

Cpl Grennier, who works at 1 Canadian Air Division, was one of about a dozen participants in the high energy, 80 minute long dance class. The session, which used recorded music, was led by Captain Dalwinder Kalay, who works at 1 Canadian Air Division AD A-4 Maintenance.

Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members across Canada and around the world took part in a national celebration of Sport on 20 and 21 October 2022.

Apart from Bhangra Dance, other activities included a spin class, volleyball, yoga, squash, disc golf, badminton and pickleball, a guided trail bike ride to Fort Whyte, zumba, doubles cornhole matches, a powerlifting clinic, wheelchair basketball, curling at the Deer Lodge Curling Club, and a Jets Hockey Development Basic Skills Training at the BellMTS Iceplex.

Most of the activities took place in Building 90 and Building 21, and outside Building 90.

Dawn Redahl, PSP Sports Coordinator, was the OPI for Sports Day.

“I’m very happy,” said Colonel Aaron Spott, 17 Wing Commander.

“The participation levels are amazing. I participated in volleyball this morning. I’ll be curling this afternoon. All the events are fully booked. It’s great for people to come out from their busy schedules and have a good time.”

Bhangra is a type of traditional folk dance of Punjab, originating in the Sialkot area of Punjab, Capt Kalay explained.

“It is done in the season of harvesting,” notes Wikipedia.

“In a typical performance, several dancers execute vigorous kicks, leaps, and bends of the body—often with upraised, thrusting arm or shoulder movements—to the accompaniment of short songs called boliyan and, most significantly, to the beat of a dhol (double-headed drum).”

Cpl Grennier called bhangra dance “a very good” experience.

“I think we should do it once a week,” she said.

“It’s good to embrace a different culture. Maybe one day I could teach Filipino dancing here, too. It’s good exercise. It’s a good thing to meet other people, too.”

Capt Kalay commented that he had “a passion for doing bhangra” as a child.

“But when I immigrated here, I kind of lost that passion,” he confessed.

“Then, it wasn’t until 2018 at CFB Cold Lake when we did a Divali Festival, I invited a group from Edmonton to come up and demonstrate the dance. It resonated with me so much-- those good vibes I had as a kid.”

He decided then that it needs to be introduced into the military fulltime.

“I asked around and see if people would be interested in learning bhangra,” Capt Kalay, who was posted to 17 Wing in 2021, continued.

“I also invested more time to teach and learn more myself.”

He added that bhangra improves a participant’s energy, strength and flexibility.

“I believe music and dance are like food to your soul,” Capt Kalay emphasized.

“It doesn’t matter what type of dance. At the end of the day it will resonate with the vibes that you put out.”

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