“On Native land” anthem lyrics nothing new for some First Nations people

Jason Bird

Jason Bird chuckles when he talks about the fuss that singer Jully Black has raised by changing a line in Canada’s national anthem to “on native land.”

The professor of governance at the First Nations University of Canada says he and his friends used to sing the opening lines to O Canada that way all the time when he was in school.

Black’s version of the song at the NBA all-star game has raised plenty of dissonance on social media.

But Bird says he doesn’t find changing a syllable of the national anthem to be that big a deal.

He says he’d rather Canadians were talking about real economic and political reconciliation.

Still, he acknowledges it might be a way to open a dialogue, and have a laugh or two about how the rest of the country is now catching up to his private schoolboy act of resistance.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 21, 2023.

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