Anthem: (noun) a solemn patriotic song officially adopted by a country as an expression of national identity.
Why are so many people against changing the national anthem? Canada is about growth, innovation, change and acceptance. Surely we can add to and modify our messages as we grow?
Anthems should reflect what we are at the time. As Canadians, we have grown, matured and become more inclusive. Our anthem should reflect that. Dictating that something cannot be changed because it was “that way over a 100 years ago”, closes our minds.
Anthems are not cut in stone, at least not in Canada. For the record, “O Canada” was written in 1880, originally without lyrics. The words were added after and were completely in French. In 1906, an English version was created, and then rewritten in 1908. Neither English version was a literal translation. The 1908 lyrics used the phrase, “thou dost in us command”. In 1914, they were changed to say, “in all thy sons command”. This is the line that is now causing us such strife. In 1926. A fourth verse was added. In 1927, it was modified again.
While unofficially being used as an anthem in some of Canada, “O Canada” did not become the acknowledged anthem until 1967. At that time, the lyrics were again modified, using most of the 1908 lyrics, but replacing some of them. In 1980, the National Anthem Act made “O Canada” the official national anthem of Canada. At that time, two more changes were made to the lyrics.
While terms like “man”, “mankind” and “seaman” have grown to be gender neutral, the same cannot be said for “sons”. “Sons” is very gender specific, as is “daughters”. Changing the term to “us” includes everyone, and acknowledges the part women play in protecting our country as well as men. Keep in mind, while there are many more women serving in our military, government and industries than there were in 1908, there were women fighting in our military in World War I as well. The “sons” phrase, does not acknowledge that.
I have heard arguments that the change is about “political correctness”. I believe the change is about acceptance, inclusiveness and acknowledgement. The change that is being proposed is to change “in all thy sons command” to “in all of us command”. Interestingly, this is more like the original lyrics.
I doubt the anthem is offending anyone right now, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be improved. Common politeness, something Canadians are renowned for, would have us behave in a way that does not offend, and that embraces all. I believe the change should be made.
Regardless of the side you are on, let’s stop using this as a source of anger and hate. Surely two words (that’s all it is) changing should not be a reason to expend so much energy towards anger. I really don’t think that’s why we fought for freedom.