Son of residential school survivor applauds Jully Black’s change to O Canada lyrics

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Jully Black sang Canada’s National Anthem at the NBA All-star game on Sunday, and altered one line to recognize the Indigenous peoples who lived on the land before European settlers.

Black swapped out the anthem’s usual opening line ‘O Canada! Our home and native land!’ with ‘O Canada! Our home on native land,’ adding a slight emphasis to ‘on’ when she sang.

“We’ve been singing this anthem since kindergarten, and now in the last three years especially with indigenous rights and what’s going on in our country, I too am learning,” said Black

Jeff Ward, the manager of Membertou Heritage Park and whose mother is a residential school survivor applauded the change.

“What a great way for reconciliation. What a great way for land acknowledgement to be right in our national anthem. It’s amazing and to us it’s the truth,” said Ward

It’s not the first time the lyrics have changed to our national anthem since it became official in 1980.

In January 2018 the Canadian Senate passed Bill C-210, trading ‘In all thy sons command,’ for the gender neutral ‘in all of us command.’

Reaction to this unofficial change has been mixed online, with one woman saying “no one should single-handedly alter a country’s national anthem.” Another added “this will most likely cause a snowball effect.”

“To us we’ve always heard it either one way or the other. Home on native land or home and native land, to us it has the same meaning and we’ve always seen it that way,” said Ward

Meanwhile, Black herself said she consulted with Indigenous friends before the performance

“To say first of all how to you feel about me doing this anthem and I got some feedback, and so I really dissected the lyrics to really sing it with intention, because I know it like my name, because now I’m singing it in a whole other meaningful way,” said Black

Drawing attention amid a national conversation about Indigenous rights, truth, and reconciliation.

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