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Mississauga considers pushing federal government for change to O Canada

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Published May 29, 2023 at 4:00 pm

Mississauga City council will decide on Wednesday (May 31) if it’s going to formally push the federal government to change one word in the lyrics to O Canada to more accurately reflect the country’s history.

Council will vote on a motion from Mayor Bonnie Crombie that calls for the City of Mississauga to support the alteration of the national anthem’s first verse from “…our home and native land” to “…our home on native land.”

It’s not the first time Mississauga has waded into this specific arena. Two years ago, then-councillor Pat Saito (who retired last fall) pushed council to support the same lyrics change, noting at the time she took exception to the part of O Canada that refers to “…our home and native land” because, she pointed out, it is not our land.

“What we should be saying in our national anthem is ‘our home on native land’ because that is what it is,” Saito told her council colleagues at the time.

Saito went on to say in June 2021 that the recent discovery of mass burial sites of children at residential schools revealed that Canada does not have a proud past and that Canadians must acknowledge and reflect on that.

Fast-forward to February of this year when Canadian R&B singer Jully Black, performing the Canadian anthem at the NBA All-Star game in Salt Lake City, took it upon herself to incorporate the one-word lyric change into her rendition of O Canada.

The altered lyrics on that international stage, while by no means a new idea, drew praise for Black on social media and renewed calls from many people and organizations in Canada to go ahead and officially change that one word.

Mississauga City council, or at least the mayor, took note as well.

Crombie’s motion to be tabled on Wednesday reads, in part, that: “Whereas Canadian singer and songwriter Jully Black sang a version…which highlighted the truth of the history of Canada…”

And “whereas that wording represented a change in a single word of the anthem that had a ripple effect across the country” and that it was further hailed by Indigenous Peoples across Canada as an act of reconciliation, be it resolved that the City of Mississauga will write a letter calling on Ottawa to formally adopt the change to the national anthem.

The idea of now changing that one word in O Canada has been around for decades, but only in more recent years has it garnered more widespread attention and support.

Canada’s national anthem was last officially changed in 2018, when lyrics were updated from “all thy sons command” to “all of us command.”

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