5,000 signatures reached
To: Minister of Heritage Pablo Rodriguez
O Canada: it’s time to change the national anthem
Singer Jully Black stirred controversy when she sang a version of “O Canada” in which she swapped the words “our home and native land” for “our home on Native land”.
Black’s spontaneous lyric change reflects the reality of Indigenous Nations in this country. First Peoples are the title holders to the vast majority of lands and waters in Canada. Many Canadians already substitute “and” for “on” in singing “our home on Native land.”
I join Jully Black in calling for an amendment to the national anthem so that the lyrics honour the sovereignty of First Nations, Indigenous, and Inuit peoples. In singing “Home ON Native Land” in classrooms across the country, children will be taught that, though they make their homes here, they do so thanks to Indigenous Nations whose laws, customs, and governance systems have sustained the land and its inhabitants since time immemorial.
Why is this important?
Over 50% of Canada’s lands and waters belong to Nations who have never signed a treaty or surrendered their territory. 89% of Canadian lands known as “Crown Lands” exist on territory that Indigenous Peoples have never ceded or surrendered.
In signing historic treaties, Indigenous Nations did not give up land ownership. Signatories to the numbered treaties understood that the land would be shared. Despite that, land set aside for Indigenous Nations makes up just 0.2% of land in Canada.
It would be alienating and colonial to sing “God Save the Queen” today — though that is what people sang in Canada until 1980. It is just as colonial, now, to erase Indigenous jurisdiction over ancestral lands by using the phrase “our home and native land”. The times they are a-changing — and so should our national anthem.