Jully Black, a Canadian singer, was more anxious than she had ever been as she took the stage to perform her nation's anthem at an NBA all-star game on Sunday. I've got a secret, she confessed.
She was about to change the song's lyrics, "our home and native land," while performing in front of a crowded stadium in Salt Lake City.
The one-word change, which was intended to honor indigenous rights, attracted a lot of attention.
Others contend that the century-old national anthem should remain as it is.
Born and raised in Toronto, Ms. Black claims she stopped singing O Canada a few years ago after several indigenous communities in the country claimed they had discovered evidence of unmarked graves on the grounds of former residential schools.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, approximately 150,000 native children were taken from their families and enrolled in these government-funded boarding schools; it is estimated that at least 3,200 of them perished there.
That really sparked a wake-up call, Ms. Black told the BBC.
However, Ms. Black decided it was time to pay closer attention to the lyrics she had been singing since she was a young child when she was asked to sing the national anthem at the basketball game. She claimed that when she did, the change was evident.
Our homeland is a lie, Ms. Black declared. "The truth is that our home is on native land. ".
Indigenous people have historically been dominated and assimilate in Canada.
Calls for reconciliation, or mending the relationship between indigenous people and non-indigenous people and the government, have been growing in recent years, sparked by indigenous communities searching for unmarked graves and burial sites at former residential schools.
However, many people have praised the lyrical change, including indigenous people who have praised the show of solidarity.
Niigaan Sinclair, an Anishinaabe professor of native studies at the University of Manitoba, said of Jully Black, "What Jully Black did was she shared her power and her opportunity to give us attention.". It ought to serve as a model for all Canadians. " .
The more we can challenge that, he said, the better. "Fundamentally, the national anthem - like the flag, like our laws and policies - has been used to oppress us as indigenous people.
However, Mr. Sinclair was quick to point out that improving the standard of living for Canada's indigenous population is more important than changing the national anthem. .
He asserted that Canadians ought to care much more about the violence and oppression that indigenous people endure on a daily basis than about changing a single word in a song.
Some people have criticized the lyrical change since the Sunday game.
Regardless of when they were born, anyone born in Canada is considered to be a native of that country, according to Lorrie Goldstein, a columnist for the Toronto Sun. "Our home on Indigenous land would be more accurate given the point she was trying to make, but that doesn't scan. ".
Ms. Black said she appreciated the feedback on her part. Even if some people have negative things to say about it, she said, "conversation is still happening, so it's a win regardless.". .
Once before, in 2018, the lyrics of the century-old anthem were changed to make them gender-neutral, changing "all thy sons command" to "all of us command.".
The Senate declared at the time, "O Canada now includes all of us.".
Now, some people are hoping that Ms. Black's covert change will stick. The alteration is at the very least irreversible in her eyes.
She said, "I can't sing the anthem any other way anymore.