Yesterday was a holiday in many parts of Canada and President’s Day in the United States so I held this story to talk about today – Jully Black singing the Canadian national anthem at the NBA All-Star Game in Salt Lake City on Sunday night.
Jully is considered one of the 25 greatest Canadian singers of all time, known as “Canada’s Queen of R&B”, inducted onto Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2021. So, not surprisingly, she delivered an outstanding performance. But it’s not her vocals making headlines. It’s the fact that she switched out one word in the anthem, replacing a conjunction with a preposition – from “and” to “on”, and that small change made a significant difference in the lyric.
The original lyric is as follows:
“O Canada, our home AND native land”
“O Canada, our home ON native land”
Jully’s modification is a statement of truth, the truth of Canada’s colonial history, and also an acknowledgement of Indigenous rights. In our ongoing efforts towards Truth and Reconciliation, as this nation continues to reckon with the shameful legacy of the residential school system, which forced at least 150,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children away from their communities and their culture, there can be no reconciliation without engaging first with the truth.
As Jully told Kayla Grey on The Shift:
"I really dissected the lyrics, to really sing it with intention."@JullyBlack did her research, reaching out to Indigenous community members, before performing the Canadian anthem. pic.twitter.com/qJezyvdTbG— THE SHIFT (@theshift_sports) February 20, 2023
The lyrics to “O Canada” were officially changed quite recently. In 2018, the line “all thy sons command” became “all of us command” to make the song more gender inclusive. Perhaps Jully’s adjustment will kickstart another movement for another permanent change.
Yours in gossip,