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Former football star Norman Kwong featured in newest Heritage Minute

Norman Kwong
Norman Kwong was on three Grey Cup–winning Edmonton teams and one Grey Cup winner from Calgary.

Historica Canada has memorialized the first Canadian Football League player of Chinese ancestry. Its new Heritage Minute of Norman (“Normie”) Kwong tells the story of his remarkable life.

Born in Calgary in 1929, Kwong started playing pro football a year after the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act, which banned virtually all immigration from China from 1923 to 1947.

His parents ran a grocery story in Calgary. They started this business after immigrating from southern China in the early 1900s. Like other Chinese Canadians of that era, they paid an onerous and discriminatory head tax.

Kwong played for four Grey Cup winners during his 13-year career with Edmonton and Calgary. He also set 30 league records. The halfback known as the “China Clipper” was twice named the most outstanding Canadian player in the league.

Watch the new Heritage Minute about Norman Kwong.

Twenty-eight years after retiring in 1960, Kwong served as president and general manager of the Calgary Stampeders, saving the team from going bankrupt. He stayed in this position until 1992 when the Stampeders won their first Grey Cup. In addition, he was a part-owner of the Calgary Flames from 1980 to 1994. From 2005 to 2010, he was Alberta’s lieutenant-governor, becoming the first Chinese Canadian to occupy this office in that province.

Kwong died in 2016.

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Charlie Smith

Charlie Smith

Pancouver editor Charlie Smith has worked as a Vancouver journalist in print, radio, and television for more than three decades.

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We would like to acknowledge that we are gathered on the traditional and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. With this acknowledgement, we thank the Indigenous peoples who still live on and care for this land.