Edmonton girl to sing anthem in NHL first at Saddledome

A 13-year-old Alberta girl is about to make NHL history, when she becomes the first person to sing O Canada before a game in Cree.

A 13-year-old Alberta girlis about tomake NHL history, when she becomesthe first person to sing O Canada before a game in Cree.

Akina Shirt, who lives in Edmonton but is originally from the Saddle Lake First Nation, will sing the national anthem in Cree before the puck drops for the Calgary Flames-Vancouver Canucks game onSaturday night.

She'll be singing to a sold-out crowd in Calgary's Saddledome and in front of hundreds of thousands of Hockey Night in Canada viewers.

"I was excited at first but then over time I just thought that it was an ordinary day, but now I'm more nervous."

Akina thanks the chief of the Saddle Lake First Nation for the chance. He's the one who told the Flames that they should have Akina sing the anthem.

Akina's dad, Dale Shirt, says it'sgood news for aboriginal people.

"To sing our national anthem in Cree just pays tribute that the first peoples in Canada really did play a large role in helping the early Canadians settle in this harsh land."

Jean Cardinal, Akina's mom, said that when her daughter sings the Cree version of O Canada to the elders, they feel goose bumps.

"It really feels like you just said a prayer to the creator. That's why it's so moving. It's such a powerful rendition of it."

This isn't the first time Akina has performed O Canada in Cree before a hockey game.

A year ago, she started singing the anthem for the Saddle Lake Junior B Warriors.

Akina is good luck for that team, and possibly now for the Flames— every time she has opened a hockey game with the Cree anthem, she has led the home team to victory.


  • Akina Shirt will be the first person to sing O Canada before an NHL game in Cree. She will not be the first to sing the national anthem in a language other than French or English, as originally reported.
    Feb 01, 2007 2:10 PM MT