Margaret Atwood and Kim Campbell lead campaign to restore O Canada's lyrics - Macleans.ca
 

Margaret Atwood and Kim Campbell lead campaign to restore O Canada’s lyrics


 

TORONTO – A group of notable Canadian women is launching a campaign for gender-neutral language in the English lyrics of O Canada.

The group said the change would restore Canada’s English national anthem to its original gender-neutral intentions.

The group — which includes author Margaret Atwood and former prime minister Kim Campbell — has set up a website to promote the idea.

It is calling on Canadians to join the campaign and encourage Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government to change the line “in all thy sons command” to “in all of us command.”

The campaign won’t be able to count on the official Opposition for support, however.

NDP leader Tom Mulcair said Tuesday in Ottawa that the anthem is “wonderful” and “extraordinary” as it is and shouldn’t be altered when it comes to gender.

“I think that when you start tinkering with an institution like a national anthem, that you’re looking for problems,” he said when asked about the proposal.

“We seem to have agreed on the English and French versions as they are and I think that’s probably a good thing.”

RestoreOurAnthem.ca is being launched on the 100th anniversary of the change made to Judge Robert Stanley Weir’s original English lyrics.

The coalition says for no documented reason the lyrics were revised in 1913 from “thou dost in us command” to “in all thy sons command” and that it is time to make a change to reflect the inclusive intentions of the original lyrics.

Other members of the group include Senator Nancy Ruth, retired senator, author and fashion designer Vivienne Poy and Sally Goddard, mother of Nichola Goddard, the first female Canadian soldier killed in combat.

“The words ‘All thy sons command’ in the English national anthem suggests that only male loyalty is being invoked,” said Atwood.

“Restoring these lyrics to gender-neutral is not only an easy fix to make our anthem inclusive for all Canadians, but it’s also long overdue.”


 

Margaret Atwood and Kim Campbell lead campaign to restore O Canada’s lyrics

  1. Dumb idea…..leave words as they are.

    • So Maggie and the gals want the old anthem back. Do they realize the original anthem written by C.Lavallee was written as a hymn and has four verses the last two verses an ode to the glory of God.

      • Ah, no.
        The music was written by Lavallee.

        And when it was originally adapted to English it was written from scratch – not translated.

        No mention of God to be found.

        • What about “God keep our land” ?

          • Nope. It was added later.

      • Probably but they choose to ignore whatever does not match their narrow agenda.

      • They actually didn’t say they wanted the old anthem back. They noted that the anthem had been modified several times since its original version, and by the way, the original version wasn’t exclusive.

    • Why is it a dumb idea, or is that the only thing you could think of to blurt out?

      • Ok, I’m just having a cup of coffee so I’ll take the time to answer you. My answer was at the beginning of this controversy. Now I find that its hit the national news. Anyway, my objection is to the choice of the original words, not what was stated later. I’ve no problem with ” all of us command” or something similar, just not ” Thou dost” etc.

  2. Toss the anthem altogether.

  3. Seriously? There is nothing else they could devote their energy to than this? Atwood should know as an author that ‘man’ is not always gender specific and in the context of our anthem, I can say AS A GIRL who grew up singing this, I never construed ‘our sons command’ as a line implying male-only loyalty. I DO construe this attempt to change the lyrics as a hyper-sensitive feminist attack on my anthem. Don’t change my Canada, Atwood.

    • ” man-hours”

    • Personholes, and their attendant personhole covers…

    • As a girl with a sister, two daughters, and a niece, we are all offended by the lyrics. I’ve always modified them since I was a little girl. Just because you are not offended doesn’t mean they’re not exclusive.

  4. Brilliant idea. Change those two little words.
    Arguments from the standpoint of history or tradition are kind of ridiculous, given that these are closer to the original words, and O Canada was only made the official anthem in 1980.

  5. While they’re at it, take God out again as well. It should never have been added. It used to just be O Canada glorious and free, not God keep our land glorious…

    • I think this is a most excellent idea. Canada is a melting pot, not everyone subscribes to the God theory!

  6. Do these to have something more constructive to do

  7. We have one of the most beautiful national anthems in the world….leave it alone.

  8. “… gender-neutral intentions.” is not at all the same thing as the headline’s suggestion of restoring the lyrics.

    I could support “thou dost in us command” along with the return to being without “god keep our land”, but just another modern change is an abomination.

  9. As Glynn stated, the title is misleading. They don’t want to restore the anthem to a previous version. They want to outright change it. They have good intentions but the anthem is perfect the way it is. Too bad a former Prime Minister doesn’t put her efforts into something really meaningful. Such as what George H Bush and Bill Clinton do together.

  10. Kim Campbell again trying to make history……lol

  11. Great idea. Can we please also get rid of the idiotic “god” reference that was inserted in 1926? Replace “god” with “Let’s.”

  12. How about a new, more inspiring anthem altogether? Am I the only one who thinks our current song is the most dull one played/sang for such an awe-inspiring country? Correct me if I am wrong, but wasn’t there a push in the late 80’s for a song written by the band Glass Tiger that really tickled the eardrums? Not tring to offend anyone out there or come across as anti-Canuck, but really, in my humble opinion, the anthem is a real downer…

    • Maple Leaf forever….with the NEW lyrics would do it.

  13. I endorse this change. It’s long overdue. In fact already whenever I sing the anthem I change “in all thy sons command” to “in all our hearts command.”

    • Or in ‘all of our command’….I’ve heard that.

      • Interesting that you’ve “heard” that.

        Judging from most of your internet utterances (8,626 and counting) I’d have guessed you’ve lived your entire sordid life and not heard a thing.

        • That’s a truly ridiculous thing to say. I’ll never understand why people waste time writing posts that are nothing more than attacks on other people. It’s a very sad generalization to make, and frankly none of your business how many posts someone makes online.

          • Well maybe not so ridiculous as you chose to believe.

            You see, having only 13 posts yourself, you lack what we commonly refer to as historical perspective.

            So, if you check Emily’s odometer right now you’ll find that she’s up to 8,660 but the old girl has a lot more miles on her than that because although it’s illegal in the used car business, Emily has turned the clock back to zero a couple of times.

            But as to whether or not it’s my business, technically you’re right it’s not, but I do like to keep up with the news and other people’s views on it. And since life is short, it’s a very large waste of my time to have to pause after every other comment to watch Emily plagiarize a few paragraphs from the Wikipedia and tell me she’s an atheist.

            So given time, and all things being equal, one fine day you might wake up and discover for yourself that I’m no so bad after all.

  14. It’s not an institution, it’s a freaking song and a maudlin one at that. I hated being forced to sing it and god save old what’s her name every day in school. Songs don’t make people proud of their country. The honourable actions of it’s people do.

    • Shouldn’t you be in bed? You’ve got school tomorrow.

  15. Wow. Margaret Atwood, the darling of the Canadian left and the media? Well I guess we’d all better just knuckle under and obey her, right. We are 35 million people. I don’t really care what one writer thinks. Tell her to write a letter to the editor to express her personal opinion, just like any other citizen. Surely we have more pressing matters than this.

    • It was pressing enough though to get you to write a paragraph about it. Don’t you find that a bit odd? Don’t YOU have more pressing matters to attend to?

  16. Only in Canada! People always want to change are history and values. It was written that way and leave it alone don’t they have anything better to do!

    • Except it wasn’t “written that way”. The anthem’s lyrics have been changed several times. Do some research :)

  17. A national anthem is meant to unite us but this one divides and excludes and can’t be sung by everyone. Some people are happy with that and want to keep it discriminatory.

    I would like to change “God keep…” to “Let’s make our country equitable and inclusive”. In that sentiment we could better feel united.

  18. Coming next on their list, The Lord’s Prayer.

    • The Lord’s Prayer isn’t remotely comparable. That wasn’t very clever.

      • Zing

  19. feminists want to change Canadas “sexist” nation anthem. Finally I feel like I can get the lyrics to “girls just want to have fun” changed to include males too because I feel that as it is now it implies only women have fun.

  20. In English, the anthem is “We stand on guard for thee” but in French, it’s “Protegera nos foyers et nos droits” ([Canada] protect our homes and our rights), which always seemed to me like the opposite responsibility.

  21. hate the anti-feminist attitude here in the comments, but i have to say i kinda like NOT being included in a group ‘commanded’ to patriot love (‘true’ patriot love, no less)

  22. Why do nitwits like this need to make a point to change what has been with us for more than 30 years? This nation, be it a melting pot, need not be accommodating to the people that arrive here as new citizens and immigrants, but the new citizens and immigrants need to adapt to what CANADA is. Soonafter the gender neutral changes are done by these two, someone will push for changing God in the anthem to Allah or Budda.
    Stop these activists and politicians from trying to make our society politically correct.

    This is how Canada’s national anthem was built – if you don’t like it, leave…

  23. I have to agree with a bunch of people here. By all means make the minor change that’s been suggested; then, change the line involving God. Allow the person singing the anthem to put in their own personal faith in their heads as they sing. Don’t make them assign their faith to a deity they may very well not follow.