In A Move Toward Inclusion, Canada Will Make Its National Anthem Gender-Neutral

"This may be small, it's about two words, but it's huge."

Canada has taken another step in its journey towards increased inclusivity by announcing plans to make some very small tweaks to its national anthem that will render the patriotic song more welcoming to people of any and all genders.

HuffPost reports the country's Senate voted earlier this week to make "O Canada" gender-neutral, which officially puts an end to decades of debates calling to replace the phrase "all thy sons" with "all of us." As the publication notes, with this new legislation the opening lyrics of "O Canada" will change from: "O Canada! / Our home and native land! / True patriot love in all thy sons command" to: "True patriot love in all of us command."

Not surprisingly, the fix, which has yet to be formally scheduled, has already earned praise from Canada's progressive prime minister, Justin Trudeau. In a tweet posted on Jan. 31, the politician called the change "another positive step towards gender equality."


According to The BBC, twelve bills had been introduced in the House to remove the reference to "sons" since "O Canada" became the country's official anthem in 1980, but all attempts failed until now. Interestingly enough, the news outlet also noted that the original French lyrics of the anthem don't contain a reference to sons, so they will remain unchanged.

Independent Ontario Sen. Frances Lankin, who was the bill's sponsor in the Senate, was thrilled this long-awaited change finally garnered enough governmental support. "I'm very, very happy. There's been 30 years plus of activity trying to make our national anthem, this important thing about our country, inclusive of all of us," she told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. "This may be small, it's about two words, but it's huge ... we can now sing it with pride knowing the law will support us in terms of the language." 

She added, "I'm proud to be part of the group that made this happen."

This forward-thinking alteration to "O Canada" comes less than three months after our neighbors to the north issued a formal apology to their LGBT community for a dark history of discrimination against them. The mea culpa was delivered by Trudeau, who tearily said, in part, "It is with shame and sorrow and deep regret for the things we have done that I stand here today and say: We were wrong. It is my hope that in talking about these injustices, vowing to never repeat them, and acting to right these wrongs, we can begin to heal."

Cover image Paul McKinnon / Art Babych / /

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