Changing ‘O’Canada’ is a no-brainer

Five words have started a national debate over whether our national anthem “O’Canada” is inclusive enough.

  • Jun. 22, 2016 10:00 a.m.

“In all thy sons command”

Five words have started a national debate over whether our national anthem “O’Canada” is inclusive enough because of only including the word “sons”.

The song, commissioned in 1880 by the Lt. Governor of Quebec for St. Jean Baptiste Day and rewritten many times until the current popular English version was wrote in 1908 by RobertStanley Weir, has been altered twice the most recent being in 1980.

However, it appears this time people who ascribe to more traditionalist views are particularly appalled that anyone would want to change these five words to “In all of us command.”

According to an email sent by the office of Minister of Parliament from Red Deer Mountainview Earl Dreeshen, over 86 per cent of respondents in a 2010 poll were not in favour of altering the words to “O’Canada”.

This is a significant majority, however, the numbers here could be misleading due to the way polls operate and also considering how intricacies of power come into play when it comes to marginalized communities.

The simple use of the word “sons” on the surface does not seem like a huge issue, however it could represent a micro-aggression against communities of people notably females, theLGBTQ community and anyone else who might not identify as a son in the way the song currently describes it.

A micro-aggression is “the everyday verbal, nonverbal and environmental slights, snubs or insults whether intentional or unintentional which communicate hostile, derogatory or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership,” according to

Why would it be important to limit micro-aggressions against particular community? Because these are people that have to deal with the disadvantage of not being male, Caucasian and/or wealthy on a daily basis and often deal with much larger issues of wage differences, bigotry and violence to name a few.

By limiting how our societal systems insult marginalized communities, we can create a more open and inclusive society that lives up to the multicultural mosaic that Canadian dogma hails us to be.

There is an argument to be made that “sons” is a term referring to the brave men that travelled overseas during the First and Second World Wars, however given that this song was popularized in 1908 its hard to put those aspects together.

Furthermore, it is also a poor suggestion to say that only males at war sacrificed during war time, as the efforts of women were significant not only in Europe, but also keeping households together and the thousands that took up trades and jobs during an era where female employment was a rarity and even looked down upon.

It is very important to many to hold on to a sense of nationalism and in most cases that is perfectly acceptable. However, if changing five words could even in the slightest way possible make a marginalized community feel more welcome in our country is there really any harm?


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