Skip to main content

Canada's National Anthem Becomes Gender Neutral

Almost 40 years after the 1980 O Canada debut as Canada's national anthem, the Canadian Senate passed a bill on Wednesday that alters the English-language version of the anthem to make the song gender neutral, the BBC reports.

Once approved by the governor general, the law will change the lyrics from "in all they sons command" to "in all of us command" in the anthem. The controversial private member's bill is the first to pass, after 12 similar bills failed since the introduction of O Canada as the anthem, after significant pushback from Conservative senators.

"There's been 30 years plus of activity trying to make our national anthem, this important thing about our country, inclusive of all of us," said Ontario Senator Frances Lankin. Lankin sponsored the bill proposed by Mauril Bélanger, a liberal member of parliament, in the upper house. "This may be small, it's about two words, but it's huge."

The private member's bill overwhelmingly passed the House of Commons in 2016 before reaching a stall in the Senate. Bélanger first introduced this bill in 2016, but he passed away later that year.

Support for the change came from voices such as Canadian author Margaret Atwood on Twitter, and former Prime Minister Kim Campbell. Some voiced disappointment in the bill's passage, saying it should be left for the Canadian public to decide.