Former Canadian Prime Minister Kim Campbell, and novelist Margaret Atwood are leading a group to change the lyrics of  O Canada, to be gender-neutral.

Photo Credit: CBC

Change the lyrics of Canada’s National Anthem?


A group of prominent Canadian women wants to change some of the lyrics to the Canadian anthem , O Canada.

They say the lyrics exclude about 50% of the population, that is, women.

The group, which includes novelist Margaret Atwood and former Prime Minister Kim Campbell, would make the anthem gender-neutral as it was originally.

The original 1908 lyric was “thou dost is us command”. This was chaned in 1913  to, “ in all thy sons command”.  Some think this might have been to encourage enlistment as the First World War loomed on the horizon, although it appears there is no documented reason for the change. is being launched on the 100th anniversary of the change made to Judge Robert Stanley Weir’s original English lyric. The group suggests an updated linguistic version of the original, to wit; “ in all of us command”

Whether the federal governming Conservatives will take note of the compaign this time is not known, but in the 2010 Speech from the Throne for the governing Conservative Party under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the announcement was made that Parliament would review the “original gender-neutral wording of our national anthem.”  The move was also supported at the time by Senator Nancy Ruth, who is also a member of this new group

However, there was an immediate backlash, with a poll suggesting three-quarters of Canadians were against a change.  Two days after the Throne Speech, a spokesman for Prime Minister’s Office said the anthem would be left as is.


As for this latest campaign, the Official Opposition NDP says the anthem is good as is.

New Democratic Party leader Tom Mulcair said yesterday in Ottawa, that the anthem shouldn’t be altered when it comes to gender.

“I think that when you start tinkering with an institution like a national anthem, that you’re looking for problems,” he said when asked about the proposal.

“We seem to have agreed on the English and French versions as they are and I think that’s probably a good thing.”

Supporters point out that the English version already incorporates changes recommended by parliamentarians in 1968 that added the lines “from far and wide” and “God keep our land.”

The inclusion of “God” in the anthem is also being raised as a point of contention.

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18 comments on “Change the lyrics of Canada’s National Anthem?
  1. Casey MacDonald says:

    Really where do we draw the line anyone who want’s the anthem changed in my eyes is not very patriotic, try that in the USA or any other Country an absolute outrage.

  2. Joan Burrell says:

    As a woman who is close to age 85, I am tired of having to sing my own words to the anthem. I sing ‘us’, not sons because I am not a son, I am a daughter. Anyone who says it can’t be changed probably doesn’t want it changed. If the Senate can’t ok a change then we have to wonder what’s behind that. This is a male oriented society and we have to change that. Let’s insist on inclusiveness in our anthem. To those who say it is not important, let me remind you that words ARE important. Get with it!!

    • John says:

      Listen. ‘thy sons’ refers to the males that fought in the bloody wars. ‘thy sons’ does not reference all Canadians. So if you think by changing ‘thy sons’ you would be helping women, then you are wrong. You would just be hiding that fact that men fought in the war.

  3. Donn Hilton says:

    I’m totally against this change. Politicians making changes to corner more votes is what it’s all aabout, it’s not about any sort of necessity. For the same reason I’m tired of politicians pushing for changes to names mountains and other land forms. Go away, come back in a few years, streets have changed. It’s insane. When our national anthem mentions “sons” I’m pretty certain my daughters realize this is a historic artifact and take it to be gender neutral anyway. Get over it. You make a single change and the anthem no longer sounds right to the ear and so needs a new paint job.

  4. Theresa Woodcock says:

    I am really tired of hearing about gender equality – men are not women and women are not men – we are different and it is about time everyone realizes that. As far as the anthem not recognizing that women fought in the war – what about the fact that Native Americans were not recognized for their contributions in the war or many other minority groups not specifically recognized. Did they do it for public recognition or for more humble reasons? The anthem is just fine the way it is, and I think there are far more important issues we can be expecting our leaders to work out than making sure the words in our anthem are FAIR! This is not grade school and life is not fair! Get on with it!

  5. Nicole says:

    Women are important enough to be apart of the Canadian anthem two. Even my 12 year old son with autism laughed at how awful it is. He said, “Next year I should protest having to sing a sexist song every morning before school starts.” I know that there are people who don’t care, but when you get to the heart of it, we should all matter.
    I hate to say it, but the only way change is going to happen is if we get a little attention. Oddly in this era that would probably involve topless women with a great slogan… hey what ever works.(:

  6. Katrina says:

    I am a girl. i believe that we shouldn’t change it. They are lyrics. They aren’t meant to be offensive too anybody. Changing the lyrics is like changing our flag. Sure they were made in different times. Does that matter? We should cherish these things. Not destroy them

  7. Robert S Moulds says:

    Vlad Putin is right Canadian men are eunuchs if they allow for a gender neutral anthem. I prefer the maple leaf forever because it mentions god and the ensign over the silly sixties maple leaf.

  8. Mason Kress says:

    The only people this change should concern is the people under the age of 30. we are the ones who have to deal with this idioitic change not you old timers

  9. Phil Anhalt says:

    These women are probably the same ones that want to change Fathers Day and Mothers Day to a neutral generic load of crap. Step up to more important issues such as, finding something else to complain about.

  10. Clint says:

    To the “Changers”, get down off your high horses if you want to do something real for the people and the country. You can be more productive by spending your energy toward helping the poor students with their reading, math, and life skills, instead of playing with the words of the national anthem. Instead give every kid a computer, be a “Big Brother/Sister” mentor them because computer can teach how to read but only waste time chit-chatting aimlessly on social networking sites.

    This politically correctness is a time wasting, meaningless, counter-productive activities which everyone is too scared to crisis for being labelled as political incorrect.

  11. Jim Cowan says:

    Yup ! In with the women and out with the god.

  12. Janet says:

    I personally don’t think a change needs to take place, but if it must why not just replace the word “sons” with “souls”, thus not such a huge change in lyrics and pertains to everyone.

  13. Kerry Bourke says:

    I am a 76 year old male. Not only would the proposed new wording address the obvious gender inequality of the current words, it would do away with the insinuation that to be a Canadian it is necessary to be born here (In all thy Sons command) which is very much not the case!

  14. ken therrien says:

    If we could arrive at a gender neutral version that still made sense as a lyric then I’m fine with that.

    The inclusion of god is another issue however. Frankly I find it embarrassing to sing it and even more so when I hear it played on the international stage. We are a modern, intelligent country yet our anthem contains a reference to the imaginary friend of some bronze age desert dwellers.

    The next time you hear the anthem try substituting the word god with Zeus, Apollo, Jehova, Vishnu, Santa, the easter bunny or any other imaginary being and see how ridiculous it really is.

    A childhood friend used to reference his imaginary friend, Steve the Giant Chicken. If we are going to continue to present ourselves on the national stage as a delusional and superstitious country let’s at least be distinctive: Steve the giant chicken keep our land, glorious and free….