February 1, 2018 8:33 pm
Updated: February 13, 2018 4:43 pm

New Brunswickers react to new gender neutral anthem

Thu, Feb 1: The senate has passed a bill to make the national anthem more gender neutral. As Shelley Steeves reports, the non-gender specific wording is being welcomed by members of the LGBTQ community.

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The same words have been sung in schools, and sports games venues across the country since “O Canada” was officially adopted in as our national anthem in 1980.

Or at least until Wednesday, when the Senate passed a bill that rendered the national anthem gender neutral.

Zivi Richard, president of the LGBTQ advocacy group Moncton River of Pride, says it’s about time

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“Mostly because women and gender non-conforming people exist. So I think it is really important to have that type of representation,” Richard said.

READ MORE: Senate approves gender neutral wording for Canada’s national anthem

The bill to strike the gender-specific language from the anthem was first introduced in 2016. Now passed by the Senate, it will become law when it receives royal assent.

Richard, who identifies as gender non-conforming, says it can’t happen soon enough.

“It valorizes masculinity and men within our society instead of just looking at everybody.”

New Brunswick Senator Nancy Hartling was in Ottawa for the vote and supports the change, saying it is like a gift, and not just for women.

“We passed the trans identity bill in June and that was a long, hard go. That passed and this is very important to be inclusive to all Canadians,” Hartling said in an interview on Thursday.

The “O Canada” bill was passed without a national referendum, which didn’t sit well with some conservative senators.

Senator Carolyn Stewart Olsen says she felt like the motion should have received feedback from Canada’s general population.

“I’m sad that we went ahead and did this without asking people, ‘Is that OK to do?'” Olsen said.

WATCH: Did Canada need to make its anthem gender neutral?

Olsen says she doesn’t think the lyrics were non-inclusive.

“I don’t think it just is saying men, I think it was saying all Canadians in general,” she said.

But Zibi says the change is a huge step forward for the LGBTQ community and is long overdue.

“Having gender neutral wording for our official representation and patriotic documents is very important,” Zibi said.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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