Canada's national anthum sexist???

Isobel - posted on 03/04/2010 ( 10 moms have responded )




OK...PC going over the top or is this a reasonable step we should take to avoid sexism? Apparently critics want the lyrics "in all thy sons command" changed to "thou dost in us" I think it's ridiculous, I love our national anthum (though I used to think it was "in all our hearts command" ...what do you think?

Should we change the sexist lyrics of our national anthem, "O Canada"?
By Stephen Hui

Is it time to change the sexist lyrics of Canada's national anthem?

In its throne speech on Wednesday (March 3), Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government opened the door to revising the English version of "O Canada".

"Our Government will also ask Parliament to examine the original gender-neutral English wording of the national anthem," the throne speech, read out by Governor General Michaëlle Jean, said.

"O Canada" became Canada's national anthem in 1980.

First sung in 1880, the anthem's music was composed by Calixa Lavallée. The French lyrics were penned by Adolphe-Basile Routhier, and haven't changed.

The same can't be said of the English lyrics. "Many English versions have appeared over the years," the Department of Canadian Heritage's Web site states.

The official English lyrics are based on those written in 1908 by Robert Stanley Weir and include revisions recommended in 1968 by a special joint committee of the House of Commons and Senate.

In case you've forgotten, the official English version of the anthem reads:

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.

With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!

From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

However, the original poem written in 1908 by Weir actually employs the words "thou dost in us" in place of "in all thy sons". Weir's poem goes:

"O Canada! Our home and native land!
True patriot love thou dost in us command.
We see thee rising fair, dear land,
The True North, strong and free;
And stand on guard, O Canada,
We stand on guard for thee.

O Canada! O Canada!
O Canada! We stand on guard for thee.
O Canada! We stand on guard for thee.

O Canada! Where pines and maples grow.
Great prairies spread and lordly rivers flow.
How dear to us thy broad domain,
From East to Western Sea,
Thou land of hope for all who toil!
Thou True North, strong and free!

O Canada! O Canada! etc.

O Canada! Beneath thy shining skies
May stalwart sons and gentle maidens rise,
To keep thee steadfast through the years
From East to Western Sea,
Our own beloved native land!
Our True North, strong and free!

O Canada! O Canada! etc.

Ruler supreme, who hearest humble prayer,
Hold our dominion within thy loving care;
Help us to find, O God, in thee
A lasting, rich reward,
As waiting for the Better Day,
We ever stand on guard.

O Canada! O Canada! etc."

By the way, the French lyrics for "O Canada" are completely different from the English ones. The English translation of the French version reads:

O Canada! Land of our forefathers
Thy brow is wreathed with a glorious garland of flowers.
As in thy arm ready to wield the sword,
So also is it ready to carry the cross.
Thy history is an epic of the most brilliant exploits.

Thy valour steeped in faith
Will protect our homes and our rights
Will protect our homes and our rights.

So, what do you think? Is it time to make "O Canada"—sung by children at school assemblies, hockey fans at games, athletes at the Olympics and Paralympics, et cetera—gender-neutral?

Should any other lyrics be changed?

For instance, should "Our home and native land!" become "Our home on Native land!" in recognition of the history and rights of aboriginal peoples—the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis—in Canada?

This substitution is found in the "Poverty Olympics Anthem", which was sung to the tune of "O Canada" at street-theatre events held before the 2010 Games to embarrass the Canadian, B.C., and Vancouver governments into addressing poverty and homelessness. Its lyrics go:

Oh Canada
Our home on Native land.
A billion for security,
Instead of building homes.
Olympic spending has gone sky high
While thousands sleep outside.

From far and wide
Oh Canada
Invite the world to see
A quarter million souls,
Poor and freezing cold.
Oh Canada, where is e-qual-i-ty?
Oh Canada, we are ashamed of thee.


Esther - posted on 03/04/2010




I'm not Canadian so you all can do whatever you want, but personally, I think it's ridiculous. Honestly. You can take PC too far too. It's a historic song. Whether originally it was gender neutral or not, it has been this way for a long time. I doubt that anyone would take the anthem and use it as an excuse to discriminate against women, so I don't see the problem. Lighten up people.

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Jess - posted on 03/06/2010




How funny ! I guess you could find something wrong with every national anthem.... For example here in Australia we have an "aging population" and part of our anthem goes : "For we are young and free". I guess to be politically correct and more intouch with our country it should be " For we are old and a burden on medicare" !

Sarah - posted on 03/05/2010




Seems a bit pointless to change it now.

I would totally change the British National Anthem though!!
"God save the Queen" ???????????????
She lives in a palace surrounded by guards! She's pretty much as saved as you can get!! :)

Rosie - posted on 03/04/2010




i'm not canadian, but i think that PC is going way overboard. i don't think it needs to be changed a bit. in america there is a patriotic song called "america the beautiful" and theres a part that says " and crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea" what should we change the "brotherhood" to?

i just can't see changing something that has been part of the history of your country, just because people are getting ruffled feathers. it's silly, and makes me shake my head.

JL - posted on 03/04/2010




I am not Canadian but I think the need to be PC is going overboard in this instance.

Jessica - posted on 03/04/2010




I agree with Amie. I am Canadian and I will continue to sing the anthem the same damn way I have been singing it for years. People will always find something to bitch about...there are way better things the gov could be putting there efforts towards. And gender neutral....seriously?! I'm female, I'm not offended..and I don't believe in the christian god either, but i'll still sing that song that way it was meant to be sung, cause thats not what it's about...

Amie - posted on 03/04/2010




People need to leave it alone. Seriously.... there's no good reason to change it. If you're offended, you're looking to be offended. It's our national anthem. If the Harper government hadn't made it news worthy it wouldn't even be a discussion we'd be having.

Jenny - posted on 03/04/2010




I'd change god to we and change sons. Not sure what I'd change it though. Hearts sounds the best but there is heart in the next line so it mucks up the flow.

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