Naden Band performs with Sarah McLachlan at Invictus Games

Sarah McLachlan performs with the Naden Band of the Royal Canadian Navy during the Invictus Games opening ceremony. Photo by Cpl Jean-Roch Chabot, CFJIC

Sarah McLachlan performs with the Naden Band of the Royal Canadian Navy during the Invictus Games opening ceremony. Photo by Cpl Jean-Roch Chabot, CFJIC

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

Canadian music icon Sarah McLachlan teamed up with the official band of Canada’s Pacific Fleet during the opening ceremony of the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto.

Approximately 30 members of the Naden Band and 35 members of CFB Halifax’s Stadacona Band backed the award-winning singer/songwriter on the main stage of the Air Canada Centre on Sept. 23. With a near-capacity crowd at the arena and a national television audience looking on, McLachlan and the two bands performed their rendition of McLachlan’s popular song, “In Your Shoes”.

“What a great honour for us to be asked to be part of such an amazing event that use sports to inspire recovery and rehabilitation of soldiers around the globe,” said Naden Band Commanding Officer SLt Vincent Roy. “It was a great way for us to close the chapter on a very busy summer.”

An international sport competition for ill and injured military members and veterans, the Invictus Games brought together athletes from 15 countries competing in 12 different adaptive sports.

McLachlan and the naval bands were part of a three-hour performance that followed the entrance of the athletes during the traditional Parade of Nations and opening remarks from Prince Harry, founder of the Invictus Games, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Other performers during the show included French Canadian folk band La Bottine Souriante, pop singer Alessia Cara and the Tenors, and comedian Mike Myers. Four Canadian Armed Forces bands took part in the opening ceremonies with Ottawa’s Central Band and La Musique du Royal 22e Regiment Quebec providing accompaniment for the athletes as they marched out onto the arena floor to open the ceremony.

Naden Band Production Supervisor and Oboist, Petty Officer Second Class (PO2) Katrina Bligh said the band’s involvement in the Games was one of the biggest moments in her eight-year military career.

“Overall, I think the performance was a huge success and meeting Sarah [McLachlan] was an awesome experience,” said PO2 Bligh.

Band members were first informed they had been invited to the Games back in June. They recorded the song “In Your Shoes” in Esquimalt and sent the recording on to McLachlan so she could practice performing to the arrangement.

The original plan for the Invictus performance was to have the band members on stage but to have a pre-recorded version of their performance accompany McLachlan’s singing. But during sound check, event producers informed the band that they would need to play live due to the acoustics in the building.

Fortunately, the band had everything they needed, having flown to Toronto with all their equipment packed into a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Hercules cargo plane.

“There really wasn’t too much pressure because we had rehearsed the song, knew we could do it and a big part of our job is being flexible and prepared for the unexpected,” said PO2 Bligh. “It worked really well live.”

Even though band members spent the majority of the Opening Ceremony backstage in the Green Room, the uniqueness of the event wasn’t lost on them. PO2 Bligh said she and the other band members still got to experience the spirit of goodwill and the magic of the Games up close.

“It was truly inspirational to see several of the athletes, all from different countries and who are complete strangers, identify with each other and encourage each other for success in their events,” said PO2 Bligh. “For me, I could truly see that these Games were really all about helping people to get well through sport and inspiring others to overcome their problems and that was a powerful moment to be part of.”

The band’s performance marked one of many success stories for CFB Esquimalt at the Games. In Issue 39, Lookout reported on Lieutenant (Navy) Krista Seguin’s Gold-Medal victory in weightlifting and retired Master Corporal Sandy Bate’s Bronze Medal in Golf. To find out more about the Invictus Games and see how Canada’s athletes fared, visit

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