Canada is changing the lyrics to its national anthem, “O Canada,” so they’re more gender neutral.
CBC News reported that the country’s Senate has approved a bill (already passed by the House of Commons) that would swap the line “in all thy sons command” with “in all of us command.” Margaret Atwood applauded the change:
CBC spoke to one of the women who supported the move in the Senate:
Independent Quebec Sen. Chantal Petitclerc, a former Paralympian who has been awarded 14 gold medals for wheelchair racing, said she was “jealous” of those athletes headed to Pyeongchang for the winter games, as they will finally be able to sing a gender neutral anthem — an option that wasn’t open to her when she competed internationally in the 1990s and early 2000s.
“I had the privilege to be on the podium many times and I never had the chance to sing ‘In all of us command,’” she said. “I can only imagine what they’ll feel when they’re on the step of that podium ... it’s an amazing moment.”
Conservatives including Manitoba Sen. Don Plett opposed the move. Said Plett: “I believe the Canadian public wanted a say in our national anthem, just like they had in the great Canadian flag debate. This is an issue for the Canadian public to decide not just a couple of Independent senators.” But it’s a little weird that the anthem even had the line to begin with. The BBC said:
The song was first performed in 1880, with several different versions of the lyrics emerging in the coming years, according to Canadian Heritage.
Originally composed with French lyrics, O Canada became the country’s national anthem in 1980.
The English version of the song at one point contained the line “thou dost in us command”, which was revised in 1913 to “in all thy sons command”.
The French version does not have a reference to sons.
Since 1980, there have been twelve attempts to get the law changed, before this one finally stuck.