Canada Is Changing Its National Anthem to Be Gender Neutral

The Canadian flag
The Canadian flag | © Brandon Giesbrecht / Flickr

As Canada prepares for the country’s 150th anniversary of Confederation, senators are preparing to address a section of Bill C-210, which proposes changing some of the lyrics of the national anthem in order to make it gender neutral.

The decision has been a long time in the making, with the one-line piece of legislation having been debated more than 20 times over the past year in the Senate. The change would involve just four words in the third line of the anthem—from “true patriot love in all thy sons command” to “all of us command.”

Female activists and women’s groups have been campaigning to change “O Canada” since 1980 when it replaced “God Save the Queen” as the official national anthem. Ten previous legislative attempts have failed after opposition from Conservatives who have previously labeled the change as “grammatically unnecessary” or have argued that most Canadian soldiers are male.

2016 Canada Day Parade

The change would actually mark a return to the original English wording of the song—the lyrics were changed in 1914 to focus on “sons,” to show support for soldiers in World War I.

In contrast, the French version of the anthem doesn’t carry a similarly gendered issue, instead focusing on how the country’s “brow is decorated with a glorious garland of flowers” (ton front est ceint de fleurons glorieux).

The late MP Mauril Bélanger, who died last year after a public struggle with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), proposed the change. The motion has stirred up some strong responses from Canadians, who have launched petitions both for and against the alteration.

The Canadian flag

Canada is not the first country to work toward making its anthem more inclusive. In 2012, for example, Austria changed its national song to recognize its women, and in 2013, Switzerland held a contest seeking more modern lyrics for its anthem.

Other countries that have changed their national anthem for political reasons include Germany, after the Second World War; Iraq, which changed its national song after the fall of Saddam Hussein; and South Africa, after the end of apartheid.

landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article