gender-neutral national anthem

The Canadian Senate Has Passed a Gender-Neutral National Anthem

By changing the language to include women, Canada’s gender-neutral national anthem has taken a step to rectify its patriarchal vestiges.
February 7, 2018
3 mins read

The adjustment of the Canadian national anthem, which passed through the Senate on Jan. 31, will allow for the country to have a gender-neutral national anthem. The bill will change “in all thy sons command” to “in all of us command” and, according to the CBC, will become official with the general governor’s royal assent.

The bill, which implies gender neutrality, is a controversial piece of legislation that has been in the works for the last few years. Its change to the anthem was introduced by MP Mauril Bélanger in 2016 and, although the bill passed in The House of Commons that same year, it was not official until the decision of the Senate last Wednesday.

The anthem has not been changed since 1980, and the the two-word change marks a significant step toward the use of gender-neutral language, a change that some are opposed to.

In 2017, Don Platt’s opposition to the bill and to gender-neutral language almost ended the possibility of changing the anthem. After Bélanger passed away, with no strong leader advocating for the proposal, Platt suggested changing the anthem back to the original wording of 1908. He argued that creating a gender-neutral national anthem would have negative implications for Canada.

Justin Trudeau
Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, has overseen several progressive initiatives during his tenure (Image via Axios)

The use of gender-neutral language and support of gender neutrality has been difficult for some members to adopt. However, it is not only a move toward more gender-inclusive language in Canada, but it is also more inclusive of women. Changing the words of the anthem to “in all of us command” imply that the verse addresses all members of the country, rather than only “our sons.”

At the same time, supporters of the bill were very pleased with the change. According to the CBC, Sen. Francis Lankin, a supporter of the bill, was delighted. “This may be small, it’s about two words, but it’s huge …” she said. “We can now sing it with pride knowing the law will support us in terms of the language. I’m proud to be part of the group that made this happen.”

Although the change will be set in motion by the general governor’s assent, some are already adopting the change to the lyric. According to the Canadian Press, the Canadian Olympic Committee will remind athletes to sing “in all of us command.”

Gabriella Evans, Northern Arizona University

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Gabriella Evans

Northern Arizona University

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