After more than 18months of deliberation, the gender-neutral version of O Canada was passed and signed on Tuesday.
Heritage minister, Melanie Joly broke the news to the public. She was joined by Catherine Belanger, who you will recognise as the wife the bill’s original champion – MP Mauril Belanger. As Joly looked at Belanger, she said: “his long advocacy for the subject has actually changed the course of our history. Now, women across this country will be well-reflected in their own national anthem.” When prompted for a comment, Belanger said that she is certain her husband is smiling, as this is a ‘wonderful day’. She concluded by saying that she and her granddaughters are on ‘cloud nine’.
Canadian officials were instructed to make the necessary changes in digital and print. Joly said the Canadian government did not afford new money to promote the new lyrics. However, she added that existing money would be used.
Incidentally, the bill was signed into law thereby receiving royal assent, by the Governor General’s secretary, Assunta Di Lorenzo. Governor General Julie Payette was in South Korea attending the Winter Olympic opening ceremonies; at which, the revised anthem was sung as the Canadian flag was raised.
History of O Canada
This change forms part of a long list of anthem changes since its inception in 1967. The original O Canada was official in 1980 and since then has survived 12 attempts at correcting the gender biased lyrics.
As a predominately French-speaking country, the original anthem was in French and has been adapted several times over. The English version was written by Robert Stanley Weir, a poet and judge. The gender-neutral anthem replaces ‘all thy sons’ with ‘all of us’:
O Canada! Our home and native land!
True patriot in all of us command.
As with all change you are bound to encounter people in favour and opposed. However, Canadian Prime Minister leads the gender-neutral movement. In fact, at a public rally he interrupted a woman speaker, he asked that she say ‘peoplekind’ instead of ‘mankind’.
While politicians continue to do their bit about including gender-neutral terms; female athletes aren’t concerned. Rather than the gender-neutral language, they want equal opportunity – this is of greater concern. According to Kaillie Humphries, Canada’s female bobsled pilot – what women are called ranks below their access and financial equivalence.