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BC Women’s anesthesiologist sings national anthem at Canucks’ home opener

You may have caught BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre Anesthesiologist Dr. Sadiq Abdulla singing the national anthem at the Canucks vs. Minnesota Wild game in Vancouver. Read how he ended up front and centre at the home opener.
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​With his hand to his heart, Dr. Sadiq Abdulla started singing the national anthem at the October 26 Canucks game at Rogers Arena.

After singing the first few bars, he faced the mic toward the crowd and led them to a thundering finish of the song.

“Just to be present, to be able to sing together as one united group, it really was a pretty special moment,” Sadiq told CityNews in an interview​. “To be able to stand in front of them on the ice level and hear the voices rise, hear the passion and the emotion in their voices, was really something."​

The game featured a tribute to health-care workers and Dr. Bonnie Henry cranked the ceremonial siren. Many health-care workers also stood on the ice for the anthem. It was the first regular-season game in front of Vancouver fans in more than a year and a half.

Sadiq spoke to the crowd of more than 18,000 before singing the anthem.

“As an anesthesiologist at BC Women’s Hospital, and on behalf of all health-care workers, I would like to thank all of your for doing your part in getting vaccinated and wearing masks to protect all of British Columbians,” he said. “Your dedication and perseverance have made a night like this possible.”

Watch the video of Sadiq singing the anthem in the Tweets i​n this CityNews story​.

Q&A on how he wound up in the spotlight:

Q: How were you chosen to sing the anthem?​

A: One of my colleagues at BC Women’s Hospital put me in touch with the Canucks as the team wanted to do something special for the first game played in front of a sold out crowd in 595 days. The team heard that I was a little bit of a singer and they asked if I’d like to perform O Canada as part of the tribute ceremony. It has always been a bit of a pipe dream for me to be able to do this, so after shelving my terror, I told them that I’d be honoured to sing the national anthem. As you saw, I just started the audience off and they took over without hesitation. It was a moment that was much bigger than me singing the anthem on my own, and it was something special to be a part of.

Q: What was it like?​

A: In the days leading up to the hockey game, I was definitely nervous! I have never performed in front of thousands of people and the gravitas of the moment wasn’t lost on me. The nerves continued up to the day of the event, but the moment the media team put the microphone into my hands, for whatever reason, the nerves just disappeared and I knew that I wanted to make sure the tribute to frontline workers ended on a positive and memorable note. Being on the ice and hearing the deafening roar of 18,000 voices singing in unison was unbelievable. I definitely had a few goosebumps.​

Q: Have you had comments from colleagues?​

A: It has been humbling to receive all the good wishes from friends, family, and colleagues the past few days. Hearing the crowd cheer for all of us health-care workers was motivating and validating. Overall, the experience was very special to be part of and it is something that I will remember for a long time.

Q: What is your singing history?​

A: I started singing in choir when I was in grade school. I continued singing while in university with the Yale Glee Club and was lucky to be able to sing with the Canadian Ismaili Muslim National Choir when I returned home to Vancouver from university. In medical school, I started an acapella group called “The Auscultations.” The group sang at hospital and UBC events, culminating with the Medical Spring Gala each year at the Chan Centre at UBC. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to sing in any official capacity since finishing medical school, but I do hope to get back into it. 

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