To change the anthem or to not change the anthem? That is the question.
A group of Canadian women have formed a group called Restore Our Anthem with the goal of changing the lyrics of “O Canada,” from "in all thy sons command" to the more gender neutral "in all of us command."
This is an old argument, but they’ve put a new twist on it.
They’ve stated quite correctly that the original version of that verse, written in 1908 read as “true patriot love thou dost in us command.”
So Restore Our Anthem wants to “restore” the song to its original wording.
They say the old verse is more inclusive of a modern Canada. A country where women are the masters of their own destinies and partners in all segments of society.
Our daughters have just as much right to command as our sons, they argue.
It seems like a logically presented argument to make the change. They’re right.
And given the already historical nature of the original version – it’s hard to use the counter-argument of “you shouldn’t change history.”
In fact, using that argument is absolutely absurd. Check out the Canadian Heritage website on “O Canada.” That song as been poked, prodded and put through wringer so many times over the last 100 years, it’s a wonder we ever agreed on a version that has lasted this long.
Did you know the song’s other sometimes controversial lyric “God keep our land” wasn’t added until decades after it was originally written? That the tune is originally French and was translated into English? There’s all kinds of interesting tidbits available on our anthem.
So the Restore Our Anthem campaign really isn’t out in left field on this one.
If “O Canada” can be changed once (or more), it can be changed again.
Society won’t come to a screeching halt. Little Canadian children won’t be any less proud to call themselves such.
And we won’t offend all of our “sons” who have done so much to help build this nation.
Some have argued that because that lyric was added at the onset of the First World War, it references our soldiers during that conflict, and as such can’t be changed without slighting them.
Well, those “sons,” the ones referred to in the lyric – many of them were probably husbands and fathers.
They were fighting for their wives and daughters back home just as much as they were fighting for king and country. It would be interesting to see what some of them would have to say on the subject if any were still alive.
“O Canada” is just a song. And if enough Canadians support changing it at some point in the future, then we should change it.
And maybe, just maybe, the change might help a few women feel more included in our society.
Stacked up against that prospect, arguments of staying true to history, just for the sake of history, ring a bit hollow.