Can one word change the entire meaning of Canada’s National anthem?
On February 19, Jully Black ( a famous Canadian singer-songwriter, producer and actress) performed an updated rendition of O Canada at the 2023 NBA ALL Star Game in Salt Lake City, Utah.
In her beautifully sung performance updated the opening line from ‘Oh Canada, our home and native land’ to ‘Oh Canada, our home ON native land’.
After her performance, twitter went off – some criticized her rendition as disgraceful, but many praised her interpretation as not only factual but as a much-needed change … and this thought isn’t new – in fact, many indigenous peoples have heard and used this version of the anthem previously. The phrase is well known and has been recently popularized by a number of Indigenous artists including Toronto’s Jay Soule aka Chippewar, Annie Martin of PEI as well as organizations like Resist Clothing co, and Anishinaabe comedian Ryan McMahon who recently hosted a free online course about Indigenous justice in Canada launched by Raven Trust.
Historically, –since it’s creation (in the late 1880s), the lyrics of “O Canada” have been revised several times, but since it’s official adoption (1980) the only revision that has taken place was 2018 to the line “in all thy sons command” which was replaced by “in all of us command”
The change from “sons” to “of us” is significant because it removes the gender-specific language, which emphasizes the idea of inclusivity, unity and shared responsibility.
The version that Jully Black performed is important because it acknowledges and recognizes the Indigenous peoples who were the original inhabitants of Canada.
The original line “Our home and native land” fails to explicitly recognize the presence of contributions by Indigenous peoples. By changing it to “our home on native land,” Jully Black highlights the fact that Canada was first inhabited by Indigenous peoples and that their history and culture are an essential part of Canada’s identity.
I personally think this change could be seen as an effort towards reconciliation and decolonization, and it can be a small but meaningful step towards recognition of the injustices that Indigenous peoples have faced and continue to face when it comes to creating an equitable future.
But what do you think? Can one word change the entire meaning of Canada’s National anthem?
I’ve included some resources that may be helpful to understand the term ally a bit better:
- ⚡️ Jay Soule / Chippewar – https://www.instagram.com/chippewar
- ⚡️ Annie Martin – https://twitter.com/martinarc8
- ⚡️ Raven Trust – https://www.instagram.com/raven_trust/
- ⚡️ Resist Clothing Co – https://www.instagram.com/resistcco/
- ⚡️ Indigenous Justice Course – https://raventrust.com/home-on-native-land/
- ⚡️ Jully Black – https://www.instagram.com/missjullyblack/
Do you have any questions, comments or thoughts on the national anthem? Leave a comment below and lets discuss.