Gender-neutral 'O Canada' performed by P.E.I. band Paper Lions

'People don't fall in love with what they haven't heard yet,' says P.E.I. band Paper Lions of new gender-neutral version of 'O Canada.'

'People don't fall in love with what they haven't heard yet,' says P.E.I. band Paper Lions

Gender-neutral O Canada by P.E.I.'s Paper Lions


5 years ago
Canada's proposed gender-neutral anthem, as sung by the band Paper Lions and friends at Government House in Charlottetown, the birthplace of Confederation 1:28

A popular P.E.I. band is adding its voice to the debate over the proposed gender-neutral "O Canada" with a new video.  

The video, released on Canada Day, features the four members of Paper Lions singing the anthem with the updated lyrics: "All of us command" replaces "All thy sons command," among other changes. Watch the video above. 

"We know from our musical background that people don't fall in love with what they haven't heard yet,"  said the band's drummer, David Cyrus MacDonald.

"We're not so much meaning to take a stance... I just think for this conversation to be balanced, it's important for people to hear the new version in addition to hearing the old version."

The band made the video at Charlottetown's Government House with a chorus representing Canada's diversity.

Will the senators watch?

Liberal MP Mauril Bélanger is behind the private member's bill to make the anthem's lyrics gender-neutral. The bill was passed in the House of Commons last month but the change still needs Senate approval before becoming law.

The anthem change has been a Bélanger cause for years but has taken on far greater urgency after he was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease and his condition rapidly deteriorated.

Mauril Belanger receives a standing ovation during a vote on his private member's bill in the House of Commons. (Justin Tank/Canadian Press)

"I think senators will also be gauging public opinion on this," MacDonald said. "I really welcome the senators listening to this. Maybe I should send it their way."

'Every single one of us'

He says the band hopes the video gives people a chance to hear the new lyrics and to see what "all of us" really means. 

"It's literally every single one of us. So, we pulled together a diverse range of different people, just to convey the meaning of what they're gaining from this, as opposed to just what we're losing with the old one."

Paper Lions also made sure the video was released early on Canada Day.

"So many people are going to be singing it tonight. It's a time when the national anthem is really in focus," he said.

"And with this probably being the last Canada Day before the Senate makes a choice on whether to change it, we thought this was an ideal time."