VANCOUVER — A Vancouver woman invited to sing O Canada before a Seahawks game in Seattle says she will take a knee during the American anthem to support protesting NFL players and make a statement about human rights.
Arielle Tuliao said she broke into tears when she read an email from the Seahawks asking her to sing Canada’s national anthem on Sunday as part of the team’s celebration honouring Canadian fans.
“They sent me a specific clip of me singing for the (Vancouver) Canucks, which in itself was my original dream,” Tuliao said Friday, the same day she decided she’d be kneeling with players.
The 28-year-old singer and actor who made her foray into belting out O Canada for professional teams by performing at a Vancouver Whitecaps soccer match last year said the opportunity to sing for the Seahawks brought up some conflicting feelings.
Tuliao wondered how she’d respond as players kneeled or locked arms during the Star-Spangled Banner in keeping with protests by NFL and NBA teams over police brutality against African-Americans and President Donald Trump’s portrayal of their stance as unpatriotic.
“How do I take a stand without bringing unnecessary drama to my country? I want to honour the Seahawks for celebrating their true north fans but at the same time it’s my job to also stand up for (their) rights, not just as American citizens, but as humans.”
Tuliao said she won’t kneel during the Canadian anthem because that would take away from the Seahawks’ celebration of their growing fan base in Canada.
“But I’m 100 per cent confident that I’ll be kneeling for the American anthem,” she said, adding she’ll also be celebrating her brother’s birthday in Seattle on Sunday as her team takes on the Indianapolis Colts.
Tuliao was initially afraid to wade into a political issue in the U.S. but said she was motivated by conquering her fear of speaking openly about her lifelong battle with depression, for which she finally sought help after hitting rock bottom last year.
“I’ve stopped doing things because I’m scared and this is something that’s way bigger than me and it’s way more important than me. In my heart I know it’s the right thing to do.”
The Seahawks did not respond to requests for comment.
In Canada, the Toronto Argonauts and the Saskatchewan Roughriders have linked arms during O Canada to support their American counterparts.
Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby has faced criticism for supporting his team’s trip to the White House as part of a traditional champions’ visit with the president though Trump has rescinded an invitation to the NBA’s Golden State Warriors after all-star guard Steph Curry said he wasn’t interested in attending.
Prof. Paul Quirk, who teaches American politics at the University of British Columbia, said most U.S. citizens seem to be reasonably tolerant of the current protests by sports teams so they’re not likely to take offence to Tuliao’s stance at a football game.
“In particular, I think the entertainment industry, which seems to be her career, is mostly opposed to Trump and sympathetic to the players and the Black Lives Matter movement,” said Quirk, who moved from the U.S. in 2004 and now has dual American-Canadian citizenship.