A Universal Declaration of Human's and Women's Right

The Senate passed a bill that renders the national anthem gender neutral Wednesday despite the entrenched opposition of some Conservative senators.

The House of Commons overwhelmingly passed a private member's bill in 2016 that would alter the national anthem by replacing "in all thy sons command" with "in all of us command" as part of a push to strike gendered language from O Canada.

The bill was first introduced by Liberal MP Mauril Bélanger, who died in 2016. It now must receive royal assent by the Governor General before it officially becomes law.

Since 1980, when O Canada officially became the country's anthem, 12 bills have been introduced in the House to strip the gendered reference to "sons," which some have argued is discriminatory. All attempts have failed until now.

The song was written by Robert Stanley Weir in 1908 and has been changed before — including an update that dates back to before the First World War when the author added the line that later sparked so much debate. Weir, a poet and judge, changed "thou dost in us command" to "in all thy sons command." 

'Very, very happy'

Independent Ontario Sen. Frances Lankin, the sponsor of Bélanger's bill the upper house, said she was elated after the bill's passage.

"I'm very, very happy. There's been 30 years plus of activity trying to make our national anthem, this important thing about our country, inclusive of all of us," she said. "This may be small, it's about two words, but it's huge ... we can now sing it with pride knowing the law will support us in terms of the language. I'm proud to be part of the group that made this happen."

Dorcas Onuh

Dorcas Onuh