“Although Canada’s public schools are trying to eliminate sexism from the curriculum, every morning when “O Canada” is sung in English, half the population is effectively excluded.”The New York Times, July 15, 1993
It sounds wrong, and it feels wrong.
“I’m not a boy!”, my daughter moans. “Why do the boys get to be in charge of the whole country?”
Canada’s national anthem sends a confusing message to our children: boys and girls have equal value in Canadian society, but the official anthem suggests otherwise.
There are far too many Canadians whom object violently and vocally to making the anthem inclusive. They say you shouldn’t tamper with tradition, that “sons” has come to represent both “sons and daughters”, and in the scheme of things, it’s no big deal. It’s “only words.”
We all know words have power. To help or hurt. To empower or disempower. To include or exclude.
If you don’t agree, consider the reverse. What if the anthem read:
“In all our daughters command.”
That would get a reaction.
So how do we bring the anthem into the 21st century?
It’s an easy fix.
A group of prominent Canadian women are requesting that parliament Restore Our Anthem by changing two words: replacing “in all thy sons command” with “in all of us command”. They rightly point out to the naysayers that this is not revisionist history — it is only returning the anthem to its original state as written by Robert Stanley Weir in 1908. The lyrics were changed to the gender specific “thy sons” in 1913, and have remained to this day.
I was genuinely moved to see that Sally Goddard, a teacher and a mother, is lending her name to the campaign. Her daughter Captain Nichola Goddard was killed in combat on May 17, 2006 in Afghanistan.
Mrs. Goddard is calling for a national anthem that “…would recognize the heroes, leaders and teachers who have made Canada what it is today – regardless of their gender.”
Who could argue that the sacrifices of our soldiers — male and female — should not be honoured in this way? That Mrs. Goddard not be accorded the right to evoke the memory of her daughter when she sings our national anthem?
I want to restore the anthem for Mrs. Goddard’s daughter, for my daughter, and for all the daughters of Canada.
Sing “all of us” when you sing the national anthem. And show support by following “Sing All of Us” on Twitter: https://twitter.com/SingAllofUs
- “In all thy sons command” has had its day (National Post)
- Q essay: True patriot love, in all of us command (Jian Ghomeshi)
- Official Sexism Brought to you by Canada’s national anthem (Shari Graydon)
- Thomas Mulcair says Canadian anthem is ‘extraordinary’ and shouldn’t be changed (news.nationalpost.com)
Definitely loooooong past time that it is amended. As an historian, I’m all about the remembrance of the past and learning its lessons- but that certainly doesn’t mean that we should be holding onto antiquated cultural mores for their own sake. Change- that reflects inclusivity- is a GOOD thing. Great post.
Whew. I passed the historian test!! Actually, I was afraid to post this…there has been so much vitriol in response to this campaign. It makes me sad! So, I thought I’d just speak from my heart. Thanks for reading.
It’s incomprehensible. If we refuse to evolve we will be left behind by those who do.
3rd try, Chrome is kicking me off. Thanks. My church I grew up in has changed their language. It makes a difference, though I was told as a child that I was included “of course” in Sons!
Well, that is hopeful!!