Column: Standing on guard

We have new gender-neutral words for our national anthem just in time for Canada Day.

We have new gender-neutral words for our national anthem just in time for Canada Day. The federal government voted 255-74 in favour of changing “our sons” to “of us.”

This certainly wasn’t one of my top priorities for our MPs. I hear O Canada so seldom I won’t remember the new words anyway. It used to be that every school day began with the singing O Canada and saying the Lord’s Prayer. The latter was dropped when it was deemed inappropriate for non-Christian children. I don’t remember when the daily anthem singing faded away. I wonder if many of us feel any less Canadian today because we don’t sing it as often.

I’m glad to be Canadian rather than proud. We tend to grouse a lot, but whether we are Canadian by choice or by birth, we should be thankful, especially considering what is happening in some other democratic countries. We have our downsides, but we don’t face the possibility of having Donald Trump as our leader, and it isn’t likely we’ll have a nation-shattering referendum any time soon.

This may come as a surprise. A recent report says Canada ranks No. two overall best on a list of 60 countries. (Germany is No. one.) We are No one for quality of life and No. two for citizenship. Quality of life is based on affordability, job market, economic stability, family-friendliness, income equality, political stability, safety, and quality of public services such as the healthcare and school systems. Gender equality, human rights, religious freedom, and trustworthiness count for citizenship. Who knew?

As for a national anthem, the Maple Leaf Forever is somewhat more inspiring, but my vote goes to Bobby Gimby’s centennial song, CAN-A-DA. It’s lively and doesn’t offend anyone. Maybe someone will come up with something like it for our 150th birthday next year. Does Williams Lake have any plans for that celebration ? There are grants available.

Meanwhile, on Canada Day, or wherever I am when the anthem is being sung, I’ll gladly stand and hum along. Wouldn’t dare try the words, my brain is stuck on the old multiple “stand on guard” version.

Diana French is a freelance columnist for the Tribune. She is a former Tribune editor, retired teacher, historian, and book author.

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