Just in time for the Olympics, the Canadian government has passed a bill that officially changes the lyrics of “O Canada” to make them gender neutral. The alteration will change the line “True patriot love in all thy sons command” to “in all of us command.” The bill was first introduced in the House of Commons in May 2016 by the late Liberal MP Mauril Belanger and received harsh resistance from Conservative MPs who considered a change to the anthem an unacceptable alteration to an iconic Canadian symbol.
In June 2017, the bill was reintroduced by Senator Frances Lankin who took responsibility for the legislation after Belanger lost his battle with ALS in August 2016. The Liberal government made clear that the change was about updating the anthem to reflect modern times, not disrespect a national symbol. Wednesday afternoon, the senate passed the bill. It only awaits royal assent by the Governor General before it officially becomes law.
Many Canadians are excited about the new change and the inclusivity it promotes. Both women and men were encouraged by the official acknowledgement that half the Canadian population is not addressed in the term “sons.” It may seem like a small or unnecessary change, but words (and omissions) matter when it comes to equality. The change not only results in a gender neutral anthem, the process it took to get there sends a message that women are a valued part of Canadian society.
Although we unfortunately missed out on a very pointed comic strip from Margaret Atwood should the bill have failed.
Mauril’s bill to make O Canada gender neutral passed third reading in the Senate tonight – another positive step towards gender equality. #inallofuscommand
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) February 1, 2018
Dear Senate of Canada: @SenateCA: Re: Bill C-210: Pleeeze vote for an all-inclusive National Anthem tonight! Pleeeze don’t make me draw a cartoon strip about how the Senate thinks little girls suck so much they don’t exist! @SingAllofUs
— Margaret E. Atwood (@MargaretAtwood) January 31, 2018
— Margaret E. Atwood (@MargaretAtwood) February 1, 2018
Finally! I’ve been singing, “In all of us command” for at least two decades. I refused the version (which is NOT the original, by the way) which refers to all Canadians as “sons” instead of “us.” Women are in, though years after including “God.” May she be pleased, too. https://t.co/CsUww4GSF0
— Janice Kaye, PhD (@JaniceKayePhD) February 1, 2018
— Kate Proctor (@_kateproctor) January 31, 2018
— Michelle Spencer (@msmspencer) February 1, 2018
There were other Canadians who were less enthused and voiced their disappointment at the change. Some announced that they would not be accepting it and will instead continue singing the old version. That’s totally fine, we can all coexist and sing the rest of the anthem together.
No, no, no! How many times have we gone through with this. Leave O Canada alone. https://t.co/bmBElWZV1E
— samantha k (@samknovels) February 1, 2018
— Prem 🇨🇦👌🏻🙏🏻💕 (@Prem_S) February 1, 2018
everyone knows they can still just sing the old O Canada lyrics and nobody will care right?
— colin horgan (@cfhorgan) February 1, 2018
At the end of the day, people pointed out that while we all might know the “sons” version, there have been several re-writes to the anthem over the years and it was actually gender neutral originally.
— Tom Megginson (@CreativeTweets) February 1, 2018
If you hear complaints about the “political correctness” of making O Canada gender neutral, remind them it was written in 1880 by French Canadians who didn’t want to sing God Save the King, then adapted into English because some people in 1908 wanted one song for everyone.
— Billy (@BillyArmagh) February 1, 2018
However you sing it, let’s just hope we hear it a lot in PyeongChang.