Interim Councillor to Present Motion for ‘O Canada’ Change

Even though the political career of the interim councillor for Trinity-Spadina, Ceta Ramkhalawansingh, may be short-lived, it will most likely be remembered in Canadian history books since she is soon to present a motion to make ‘O Canada’ gender neutral. Appointed as the new councillor for the downtown ward in July, Ramkhalawansingh has decided to introduce the motion at Monday’s council meeting.

Although the city council does not have the legal authority to change the National Anthem Act, it can still urge and insist on Ottawa to change the lines in the English lyrics of the anthem. According to the notice to be presented on Monday, “this motion seeks to reaffirm city council’s continued leadership and advocacy on gender inclusion by making ‘O Canada’ gender inclusive.” Moreover, the motion has been seconded by Toronto Centre-Rosedale Coun. Pam McConnell. Ramkhalawansingh is a renowned retired city staffer and former manager of the city’s diversity management and community engagement unit.

Ramkhalawansingh is not the first person to call for more gender-neutral language in the English lyrics of ‘O Canada.’ Back in last October, a group of well-known Canadian women, including author Margaret Atwood and former Prime Minister Kim Campbell, initiated a campaign that asked the federal government to change the English anthem. The group installed a website called RestoreOurAnthem.ca., which was launched on the 100th anniversary of when the group says the original English lyrics were revised from “thou dost in us command,” to “in all thy sons command.”

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