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O Canada now includes all of us

The Senate has approved a change that replaces “all thy sons command” with “all of us command” in the English version of the national anthem.

Two simple words in a bill approved by the Senate will make the country’s national anthem inclusive of all Canadians.

The change replaces “all thy sons command” with “all of us command” in the English version of the anthem. The French lyrics are already gender neutral.

The late Ottawa MP Mauril Bélanger had described his private member’s bill as a long time coming.

“With my bill, I want to pay tribute to all the women who have worked and fought to build and shape the Canada that we know today. I want to, at long last, honour their sacrifices and contribution,” he said.

The phrase, “True patriot love thou dost in us command” was in the original accepted English lyrics of 1908. In 1914, after World War I broke out, the wording was replaced with, “True patriot love in all thy sons command.”

Bélanger introduced his bill in the House of Commons in January 2016, after his earlier one died on the order paper. A dozen bills before Bill C-210 have tried to change the second line of O Canada since July 1, 1980, when it became the official national anthem. The bill completed its passage through the Senate on Jan. 31, 2018, and received Royal Assent on February 7, 2018.

Former Senator Nancy Ruth was the initial Senate sponsor of the bill, followed by Senator Frances Lankin.

“We strive to be an open, diverse and inclusive community. Bill C-210, by changing two small words, makes a large statement about the importance of these values. Indeed, reflecting our values is fundamental to the job description of a national anthem. It is, as essence, a key statement about who we are, what we stand for, and who we want to be,” former Senator Ruth said during her second reading speech.

Senator Lankin told the Senate during third reading: “It is welcome because it will ensure that all Canadians will see themselves embodied in the words of their national anthem.”

Senator Chantal Petitclerc, a decorated athlete with 21 Paralympic medals, noted that with PyeongChang Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games on the horizon, Canadian athletes will have the opportunity to sing the new lyrics.

“I had the privilege to be on the podium many times and I never had the chance to sing, ‘In all of us command,’” she said after the bill was passed. “I can only imagine what they’ll feel when they’re on the step of that podium.”

O Canada now includes all of us