Blue Line

Local police officer invited to sing anthem at Jays game

September 14, 2023  By David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Sep. 14, 2023, Garden River, Ont. – Chantal Larocque, a Sergeant with the Nipissing detachment of the Anishinabek Police Service, didn’t expect to get called up to the major leagues, but when the Blue Jays call, it’s difficult not to answer. The Toronto Blue Jays’ organization invited her to sing our national anthem on Saturday, September 30th to commemorate our National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, and Laroque was happy to oblige.

“Imagine how shocked I was when I got the call,” she said, adding that receiving an invite from the Jays to sing on an international stage was not something she dreamt of happening. But it did, and when the call came into her headquarters at the Garden River Station, the wheels were definitely in motion, and next thing she knew, she was booked to sing for the country.

So how does an officer end up in the spotlight at the Rogers Centre? It started with a video.

In July of 2021 she put together a stellar version of O Canada, singing in English, French and Algonquin. She teamed up with Regan Pictures to make a video for the song, and before long, the video started making the rounds, catching the attention of many eyes. Schools and sports teams started playing the song, as did the Blue Jays’ staff.

Larocque originally wanted children to sing the anthem in the video, but when they recorded and produced the video, COVID was an issue, and getting a room full of kids together wasn’t possible. She decided to record the vocals herself.

As for why she was determined to put her take on the anthem, she mentioned that there was a strong anti-Canada Day sentiment after the remains of 215 Indigenous children were discovered at residential schools. That number rose as more residential school sites were searched, and the sentiment kept growing.

However, Larocque felt the drive to cancel Canada Day – so strong with some – was the wrong way to go. “It’s not about cancelling,” she said, “it’s about truth and reconciliation.”

Sharing the song with such an audience is an unexpected honour, she said. “It is an honour to represent, and it’s a reminder that Truth and Reconciliation is not just about one day, it’s about the other 364 days of the year, and what individuals can do to heal together.”

“None of us, including you or I, were part of the generation that caused all of the wrongs on Indigenous peoples in Canada, but we are all responsible as Canadians moving forward to be educated and to bring forward changes that we can individually do.”

For her, that also includes serving her community as a member of the Anishinabek Police Service, and she’s proud to be able to represent the service on such a large stage. One of her colleagues sent her a text saying, ‘sing loud and proud,’ when the time comes, “and it’s about that,” Laroque said. “It’s about pride, having the stage for all of the people.”

“It’s not about me, it’s about every Indigenous person and community and the police service. So loud and proud it will be.”


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