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Letter: ‘O Canada’ — we stand on guard for thee

Bill C-210 is currently with the Senate in its third reading. If the Senate votes in favour of Bill C-210, it will receive royal assent and will pass into law. 

Canada’s national anthem was hijacked by the House of Commons last year. MPs gave the late Mauril Belanger’s private Bill C-210 a thumbs up vote to change “thy sons command” to “in all of us command” without input from Canadians across Canada. Debates took place in May 2016 and “thy sons” was ripped away in the House of Commons on June 15. It was then sent to the Senate to be put into law. Both English and French versions were enshrined into law in 1980. However, the attack is only on the English version of “O Canada.” 

Bill C-210 sponsor Sen. Frances Lankin has noted, “As we are approaching Canada Day, I think it is an absolute shame that members in this body, this institution of Canada, will not allow a proposition like this to come forward.”

Lankin is determined to have Bill C-210 passed by July 1st so Canadians can sing the new version to celebrate Belanger’s legacy on Canada’s 150th. That shows outrageous disrespect to English-speaking Canadians.

According to British Columbia Liberal MP John Aldag, “The change to Canada’s national anthem embodies our commitment to promote gender equality and the advancement of women’s rights.” 

But Bill C-210 is not an inclusive act because it excludes French-speaking Canada, whose population will continue to sing the unchanged version. 

When Canadians sing “thy sons” in “O Canada,” it is a reminder to many Canadians of the sacrifices made by our war heroes during the First World War (1914-1918) — especially those who had family members slaughtered for the freedom of Canada during the bloodiest war in Canadian history. They are not thinking about or feeling offended by the gender word “son” in “O Canada.” 

Bill C-210 is a disgraceful act by the newly elected government, whose members have insulted Canadians with their arrogance and ignorance with “O Canada’s” English version. “Thy sons” means all people — God’s people to many Canadians across Canada — and must be respected. “Thy sons” is a reminder to many Canadians of the sacrifices made by our war heroes for Canada’s freedom.  

Robert Weir wrote the English version of “O Canada” in 1908. He changed “thou dost in us” to “thy sons” in 1914 during the bloodiest war, when young boys and men were being slaughtered in the trenches at Beaumont Hamel and Vimy Ridge. God was very much on their minds as they faced death.

All Canadians, new and old, must never forget the sacrifices made in the First World War that allow freedom for Canadians today to sit and ponder gender words.

Leave “O Canada” alone!


Mona Matteo, activist

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