‘O Canada’ May Go Gender-Neutral

June 15th, 2016: As seen on Archive (PDF)

PHOTO: Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press

Members of parliament congratulate Ottawa-Vanier MP Mauril Belanger; Photo: Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press

A veteran member of the Canadian parliament recently diagnosed with ALS, Mauril Bélanger, is making it a chief crusade of his to get Canada’s National Anthem, “O Canada,” to read more gender-neutral. Titled, “An Act to Amend the National Anthem Act,” the bill seeks to change just two words, swapping out “In all thy sons command” for, “In all of us command.” The full lyrics for context:

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee

Some conservatives in parliament are making it difficult for the bill to move forward by denying unanimous consent, and citing the fear of God and his ommitance as next, as religion nuts do, but for the most part Canadian sentiment and government seem to be aligned with Bélanger’s reasoning that such a change would signify “a powerful symbol for current and future generations,” regarding gender-equality.

Belanger further explained in an email Q&A with Maclean’s, “With my bill, I want to pay tribute to all the women who have worked and fought to build and shape the Canada we know today. My bill proposes a simple change in the English version of our anthem. It proposes that “True patriot love in all thy sons command” become “True patriot love in all of us command.” Changing only two words, “thy sons” to “of us,” gives Canada an inclusive anthem that respects what we were, and what we have become, as a country.”

National anthems worldwide are no stranger to these such amendments and quibbles, most of them created in bygone eras that equated patriotism with both religion and military, of which men mostly participated. Some say our very own started as a drinking song.

In that respect, good on you, Canada, and Bélanger, you are miles ahead of us. But you’ll still never be as art-rock as us: