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Thursday, June 30, 2016

O Canada

You know, Canada Day is tomorrow - and for those of you who might not know what that is - it's the date in which Canada became an independent nation.  Canada turns 149 tomorrow...and I have to say, the nation doesn't look a day over 57!

The country must moisturize!

And I definitely have Canadian pride.  I plan on wearing my red and white clothing tomorrow, I may have a poutine for dinner in celebration, and at some point I'll probably have Chilliwack, The Tragically Hip, Bryan Adams, and Tom Cochrane playing on my iPod at some point during the day.  I've even turned this whole post red in celebration.

(Mind you, I'm celebrating the day early on account that I have my Jem Reviewed post scheduled for July 1.)

One of the things that I used to do on Canada Day when I was a kid was spend the day at Block House Island - a place in town that used to host a summer festival called Riverfest back when I was a child.  On Canada Day, they would have activities that would last all day long.  You'd have face painting, buskers, concerts, and of course, the Canada Day fireworks display that would light up even the darkest summer nights.

And I remember around noon on Canada Day, our whole town would gather around Block House Island where cake was served to every single person in attendance and we'd sing the national anthem, "O Canada".  Here's how we sang it years ago.  Pay close attention to the part I put in bolded text.

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.

Now, you see the part I bolded?  The part where it says "all thy sons command"?  Well, up until recently, that was the way that we were all taught how to sing the anthem. 

But earlier this month, a Canadian Member of Parliament by the name of Mauril Belanger put forth the notion that the lyric of the anthem be changed.  Those four words I bolded, in fact.

His argument was that the national anthem was not gender inclusive, and in order to remedy that, he made the suggestion that Canada amend the anthem so that instead of saying "in all thy sons command", it instead reads "in all of us command".  It's a subtle change that seems to have sparked a ton of controversy.

You know, I honestly can see both sides of the argument, and I will list pros and cons of each one.

The argument for keeping the anthem the way it is now is simple.  It's the way that Canadians have been taught to sing it for over 100 years.  I believe it was 1914 that the current version was first introduced, and up until now, I don't believe anybody had a problem with it.  It's the way that at least four generations of Canadians have learned it, and for some, it's the only anthem they know. 

Some people (I don't see myself as one, but I feel the need to mention it) feel that the only reason the amendment was passed was to honour the last wish of a dying man.  Mauril Belanger was diagnosed with ALS not too long ago and it is expected that he will not live long enough to see the end of 2016.  And, you know, that very well could be a possibility, but again, I wasn't there when the amendment was passed, so I can't make that judgment.

But others defend the decision saying that the lyric change was decades overdue.  After all, it's not just men that can serve in the military.  And let's face it, Canada at least elected a female Prime Minister.

(Oh, sure...she only lasted a few months...but still.  She managed to do it!)

I guess I see the argument that making the anthem more gender inclusive just goes with the way the world is now.  After all, when it comes to equal rights, men and women are certainly neck and neck now.  It's a lot different than it was back in 1914, anyway! 

And, it's not as if the anthem is completely changing.  It's just two words.  Less than 4% of the whole song.  It sort of puts things in perspective, doesn't it?

Honestly, my opinion is that if they really wanted to make it gender neutral, they should have reverted back to the anthem that was first introduced in 1908, where the lyric "in all thy sons command" was originally "thou dost in us command".  Sure, it's a mouthful to say, but it somehow sounds more powerful than "in all of us command".  But again, that's merely my opinion.

The point I'm trying to make is that when it comes down to it, Canadians are very lucky.  We live in a country that celebrates diversity and pride.  We live in a country that has the largest fresh water supply in the world.  And we live in a country where we have the freedom to be who we are no matter where we are in the country.

So, I say that when it comes down to how you sing the anthem on Canada Day...sing it the way that you want to sing it, be it the 1908 way, the 1914 way, or the 2016 way.  As far as I'm concerned, there is no wrong way to celebrate Canadian pride.

Happy birthday, Canada!

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