City Councilors should sing O Canada for "all of us"

TORONTO, Aug. 22, 2014 /CNW/ - Three cheers for Toronto City Councilors, Ceta Ramkhalawansingh and Pam McConnell for raising the flag of inclusiveness and gender equality at Toronto City Hall on the 26th of August. Toronto has a proud history of embracing change to enrich the lives of its residents. It is appropriate and timely that Councilors Ramkhalawansingh & McConnell take action at the last Council meeting, before the Mayoral election.

We call on the Council to endorse the motion to "Request the Government of Canada to change 'O Canada' to be gender inclusive, thereby including all Canadians."

Senator Nancy Ruth, one of the founders of the Sing "all of us" campaign, says:

"This is a wonderful opportunity for Toronto City Council to demonstrate its leadership, its long tradition of equality and inclusivity and its desire to makes 'all of us' feel welcome."

We encourage all our elected officials when they sing the National Anthem at the beginning of Council meetings, to sing loudly and proudly and for "all of us."

116 years ago, Judge Stanley Weir first penned the inclusive term "us" in his patriotic poem that would become Canada's Englishnational anthem –  Toronto City Council can be a leader for its residents, and for the country, taking a step that respects the heritage of the song and all Canadians.

NOTES TO THE EDITOR:

Canada has had "official" national anthems, one in English and one in French, only since July 1, 1980 when the National Anthem Act passed by Parliament came into force. But both songs were sung by Canadians for decades before 1980. Although they share the title "O Canada", the English song uses the music from the French song, but the English words are not a translation of the words in the French song!

Changes to the English Lyrics
Judge R. Stanley Weir, who authored the original, is known to have amended his poem in 1913, 1914 and 1916.  By 1913, he had changed the second line of the poem to (emphasis added): "True patriot love in all thy sons command".  The historical record confirms the change but does not give any indication of the reason.

In 1927, the 60th anniversary of Confederation, the Government of Canada authorized the Weir song for singing in schools and at public functions.  The Government would keep the second line from the 1913 version, not the original 1908 gender-inclusive version, although it would change other words in 1927, and again in 1980, to what we know today.

Since 1980, there have been nine private member's bills introduced in Parliament to change the second line of the English anthem to words that include both genders.  None have been successful.  The National Anthem Act makes clear that the words of O Canada are in the public domain – they are our words.

The Original English Lyrics

A number of poems were set to Calixa Lavallée's music, including one written in 1908 by Judge R. Stanley Weir of Montréal, in honour of the 300th anniversary of the founding of Québec City.  Here are the words Weir wrote in 1908 (first verse only, emphasis added):

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love thou dost in us

command.
We set thee rising fair, dear land,
The True North, strong and free;
And stand on guard, O Canada,
We stand on guard for thee.

Refrain

O Canada! O Canada!
O Canada! We stand on guard for thee.
O Canada! We stand on guard for thee.

SOURCE Devlin Digital

For further information: Beth Atcheson, t. 416-769-7053, e. batcheson@rogers.com, www.singallofus.ca