Canada's national anthem may soon be gender-neutral, representing a win for inclusivity
In a big win for inclusivity, Canada’s national anthem is expected to soon become gender-neutral. The issue has been a debate in the country for decades, but will finally be resolved after one last Senate vote.
On Wednesday, January 31st, Senators passed legislation that would change the second line of the English version of the anthem (the French version has different lyrics). It currently reads, “in all thy sons command,” and will be changed to “in all of us command.” Seems fair! Now all they’re waiting for is the legislation to be given royal assent by the governor-general, and the change will become law. Canadian senator Frances Lankin stated,
The fight for this change has been going on for a long time. In recent decades, 12 bills aimed at making the anthem gender-neutral have been introduced in the House Of Commons. In 2013, the idea gained attention when a group of famous Canadian women, including author Margaret Atwood and former prime minister Kim Campbell, fought for the change as well. Atwood said, “Restoring these lyrics to gender neutral is not only an easy fix to make our anthem inclusive for all Canadians, but it’s also long overdue.”
In fact, the Canadian national anthem hasn’t always included “sons” in the lyrics. It used to say “thou dost in us command,” and “sons” was added in 1913.
Nevertheless, the change brought up so much debate over the years that the bill has been stalled for 18 months, with Conservatives arguing that every Canadian should have a say in the situation.
Liberal MP Mauril Bélanger is the person who originally introduced the legislation that was passed on Wednesday. At the time, Bélanger said the change “would ensure that more than 18 million Canadian women are included in our national anthem.” Even when his first attempt was denied, he tried again a year later and was more successful. Unfortunately, Bélanger won’t be able to see his work come to fruition — he died from Lou Gehrig’s disease in 2016.
Not everyone is thrilled with the change, as expected:
But many are happy the anthem is now gender-neutral.
And some are wondering when the United States is going to do something similar.
Guess we’ll have to wait and see.