O Canada: Our Home, and Native Land

So, we’ve gone and changed two words in our National Anthem. Given the amount of fuss around changing “all thy sons” to “all of us,” I feel compelled to address a far more impactful need for change.

The current official English Lyrics

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all of us 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.

There have been lots of changes over the years. As an Indigenous Canadian, I am very aware of how the anthem has yet to really include us. Sure, a lot of us sing “our home, and Native land” with an implied comma and capital; but the official anthem of our land does not include us. Not at all.

Not that we haven’t got Indigenous language versions, made by Indigenous language speakers. That’s remarkable, really, considering how the government made it policy to try to exterminate our languages. My Ojibwe tongue was severed in my father’s generation. That those who have kept our languages love this country in spite of it all, enough to put into those the anthem of the country that engendered such a history of abuse against our families, frankly moves me to tears.

This level of love and enduring belief in the power of making a home here for all comers should be lifted up as one of the world’s great examples of humanity.

I propose that we work together now, and come up with an Official version of our anthem that truly recognizes where we are, who we are, the foundation of our nation, and calls forth the potential to become, for all of us, the True North, Strong and Free.

I am willing to work on this. It’s important. It does not replace the imperative to ensure all First Nations have the same access to safe drinking water, healthcare and educational options as other people living in this land. It does not replace the imperative to stop the tide of missing and murdered Indigenous people. It does not replace the imperative to negotiate, in good faith, with Indigenous people in accordance to the Treaties of Peace and Friendship without which this country would not exist.

However, remaking our Anthem so that it includes Indigenous languages, perspectives and living presence can be a powerful means of bridging the disconnect between peoples here, in our home, and Native land. And there’s no need to stop there. We can bring in other non-official languages, in a word, a phrase, a verse, to honour who we have become, a gathering of people from around the world. Here’s one look at how simple it could be.

In the meanwhile, I’m going to learn this lovely version, claiming it back for my dad, my grandma, and my descendants to come.

All My Relations

ams

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