Tec Voc high school students have created a version of O Canada that spans five languages — a reflection, they say, of the students who go to the school.

The new version features English, French, Cree, Ojibway and Tagalog, along with Indigenous drumming, the odd wind chime and bells. The song is sung A cappella by students Faith Bage and Mallory Richards. 

"It started off with English and Cree and Ojibway, and then we added French and Tagalog," said Bage. "I think one of the main reasons we added Tagalog is because we had a high Filipino population in the school, and we also recognize that there's a lot of Aboriginal people, so people who speak either Cree or Ojibway in the school as well."

Music teacher Jerry Semchyshyn said the project began due to Canada's 150th anniversary. 

"Once we started with it … we realized that we could incorporate more languages into it and make it a little more distinct in that regard.

Faith Bage

Faith Bage, along with classmates, perform Tec Voc's new multi-lingual version of O Canada. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

"It was a challenge doing the translations and coming up with rhyme schemes between the different languages that seemed to work."

The school began playing the song during their opening announcements, and the version was offered to other schools within the Winnipeg School Division. Now, 20 schools use the new version, and two other divisions have approached WSD about using it, said Semchyshyn.

The project took about six weeks in total to put together, said Bage, adding she spent class time, spares and lunch time to help put it together. 

"The specific languages were chosen to reflect our student population," added Semchyshyn.

"We just thought that if we were going to do this, it needed to be representative of who we were and what the kids really felt."