Margaret Atwood joins campaign for gender-neutral ‘O Canada’

Video: A group of high-profile Canadian women believe it’s time to tweak the lyrics of Canada’s national anthem. Mike Drolet has the story.


TORONTO – A coalition of prominent Canadian women are seeking to restore Canada’s English national anthem to its original, gender-neutral intentions.

The campaign was launched by some of Canada’s most influential women—including Canada’s first and only female Prime Minister Kim Campbell, retired Senator Dr. Vivienne Poy, Senator Nancy Ruth and world renowned author Margaret Atwood.

A YouTube video posted by the coalition said the Canadian anthem is used to teach our children who we are and we use it to celebrate our proudest moments.

“We sing it [the anthem] proudly without pause. But perhaps a pause is exactly what we need. A pause to consider the power of words.”
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In 1913, the lyrics to Judge Robert Stanley Weir’s original English lyrics of O Canada “in all of us command” were revised to “in all thy sons command” for no documented reason, said the coalition.

YOUR THOUGHTS: Should the reference to “thy sons” be removed from Canada’s anthem? Share your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.

“The words ‘all thy sons command’ in the English national anthem suggests that only male loyalty is being invoked,” said Atwood. “Restoring these lyrics to gender-neutral is not only an easy fix to make our anthem inclusive for all Canadians, but it’s also long overdue.”

The campaign said it’s calling on Canadians to join the movement and encourage Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government “to act now.”

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“Our government has many important issues to deal with; however, government is also expected to be able to deal with multiple issues at any one time,” according to the coalition’s website.

“The amendment of the National Anthem Act is one of many social changes that might be raised, the fact that it exists among other issues, does not make it any less significant or important.”

Canada’s English national anthem by the numbers (Credit:

The coalition also addressed critics who question the need to put attention on this when there are “larger women’s issues at hand.”

“Every small win for equality contributes to a larger goal to fully establish women as equals in Canada. Our support of this issue does not come at the sacrifice of other women’s issues but rather in support of them.”

“Canada’s women stand alongside men in every sphere of activity. We need an anthem that reflects this reality.”

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This isn’t the first time a call has been made for Canada to adopt a gender-neutral national anthem. In 2010, the minority Conservative government said it would ask Parliament to look at the original lyrics to the anthem.

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