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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Leave "O Canada" Alone!

Okay. In this blog entry, I've turned this diary entry bright red as a sign of solidarity for my country and its anthem. But why would I do a post about the Canadian National Anthem now when our independence day was several months ago? Let's just say that a movement by a small group has me seeing bright red. Find out why as I pen this latest installment of the Thursday Diary.

October 10, 2013

I am a Canadian. I have been my entire life. My blood bleeds Canadian red. I know how to find Vancouver, Toronto, and Halifax on the map. I know what Ontario's provincial flower is (it's the Trillium). I can tell you Canada's birthdate (July 1, 1867).   I can tell you all about the deliciousness that is Canadian maple syrup, the poutine, and Canadian pizza (basically just pizza with bacon bits, mushrooms, and double cheese).

(I sure wish that pizza place next door didn't close up. A slice of Canadian pizza sure sounds delicious right about now.)

Yes, it's good to be a Canadian. Although an opportunity might arise in which I have to relocate to a different country (though I doubt it will be in this lifetime), I'll always keep my Canadian citizenship. I couldn't ever imagine not being a Canadian. I'm proud of my Canadian background, and couldn't imagine being from any other nation.

Even our Canadian national anthem is such that almost everyone living in this country feels a sense of pride. Here, I'll post a video of “O Canada”, as well as the lyrics down below, just so you can sing along. And, since Canada is a bilingual country, I'll post the lyrics in both English and French. And just keep an eye on the English lyrics though. We'll be talking about those a little bit later.

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

O Canada, Terre de nos aieux
Ton front est ceint de fleurons glorieux
Car ton bras sait porter l'épée
Il sait porter la croix
Ton histoire est une épopée
Des plus brillants exploix
Et ta valeur, de foi trempée
Protégera nos foyers et nos droits
Protégera nos foyers et nos droits

Okay, so you might be wondering why a certain portion of the English language version of Canada's national anthem has been bolded, italicized, and underlined. This was done on purpose because of recent events that have many Canadians on edge.

You see, there's something that you need to know about the national anthem before I continue with this entry. The version that you're seeing and hearing is the version that we've been used to for at least a century. But it's not the original version. Believe it or not, the song was actually composed by then Lieutenant Governor of Quebec Theodore Robitaille in 1880, and was originally written in French. The English version actually came sixteen years later in 1906, and where the Bold/Italic/Underline phrase appears, it originally read “in all thou dost command”. In 1908, that line was changed by Robert Stanley Weir to “all thy sons command”, which remains today some one hundred and five years later.

Yet, some people have criticized the phrase “all thy sons command”, and have taken action over changing the lyrics to try and make them “less exclusive” and more “inclusive”.

The campaign is lead by several high-profile Canadian women including Canadian author Margaret Atwood and former Prime Minister for all of four months, Kim Campbell, among others. You see, their argument is that the phrase “in all thy sons command” discriminates against fifty per cent of the Canadian population, as the lyric suggests that only men are represented. They want the lyrics changed so that they include everybody. The proposed change? They want to lobby to have the lyric changed from “in all thy sons command” to “in all of us command”.

I mean, it's not a new phenomenon to change the words of our national anthem. Campaigns to reword the anthem have been set in place since 1990, and several groups have lobbied unsuccessfully to change parts of the anthem for two decades.

I mean, call me anti-feminist if you will (though I assure you all that I am anything but), but I see nothing wrong with “O Canada” the way that it is currently right now. It was how I and millions of other Canadians were taught it. Why fix something that isn't broken?

I mean, yes...the anthem was crafted in a different time where social rules were absolutely different, but the message remains the same. It's all about taking pride in our country and defending it from anyone who tries to take away our freedom. And, just based on public opinion from people I've spoken to about the subject and by watching news coverage on this news story, it seems that other people feel the same way.

I mean, just try singing the national anthem if the new changes are put into place. Where they replace “in all thy sons command” with “in all of us command”. Does it not sound like the most awkward phrasing ever? Even the original lyrics “in all thou dost command” sounds a lot better than “in all of us command”. I mean, with just the change of a few simple words, they've taken the stanzas of “O Canada” and instead of them being strong and bold, they've now made the song seem a bit...wimpy.

And considering that the campaign to change the lyrics is being championed by some of the most recognizable women in 20th century Canadian history, I would think the last thing that they wanted was to make our anthem “wimpy”.

And, I mean, just look at it through the perspectives of other countries in the world. Hypothetically speaking, what do you suppose might happen if a group of American lobbyists wanted to change the words of “The Star Spangled Banner” because they felt that the words “rocket's red glare” was a symbol of war and violence and they wanted to clean it up a bit? I bet I can name a hundred people who would tell that group where to go! And, I don't blame them. “The Star Spangled Banner” is one of the most iconic pieces of American music. To change the words because someone was offended by some of the words would be unthinkable.

Starting up a group to actually replace “The Star Spangled Banner” with Miley Cyrus' “Party In The U.S.A.” was also an unthinkable action...though to be fair, I had heard that it was all in jest. At least, I certainly hope so.

So why mess with “O Canada”? Why mess with a good thing?  

1 comment:

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