National anthem a bridge, not a barrier

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I will gladly admit it was darn nice to see a vote involving our national anthem remaining in schools — going overwhelmingly in favour of O Canada with 210 of the 279 parents who responded to a survey by the Iqaluit District Education Authority voting to keep it in local schools.

The problem, of course, in voting going the other way in some locales is one word in one line of our anthem, “God” keep our land glorious and free.

Not everyone was happy with the results — as one-sided as they were — and a number of board members suggested the survey may not actually be accurate because of the relatively low number of eligible parents who responded.

I find that an incredulous line of thinking, taking into consideration the whole process was started by a “couple of emails.”

So, I can only assume, in addition to a bit of an over-reaction, those board members don’t pay much attention to voter turnout in territorial and federal elections, where the fact the results stand no matter what percentage of eligible voters actually cast a ballot.

Such is life in a free and democratic society, even if the first-past-the-post electoral system could stand a little tweaking.

And those who feel the anthem should only be sung if the colonial system is explained along with it might be surprised to learn it was originally written in French for the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day ceremony in 1880.

The English version was not published until 1906 and O Canada did not become our official national anthem until receiving royal assent in 1980.

Oh those pesky colonial French Canadians who held Québec Sovereignty Referendums in 1980 and again in 1995, when the No side came in at 50.58 per cent, barely topping the Yes side’s 49.42 per cent.

And, the 93.52 per cent of registered voters in Quebec who cast a ballot in the 1995 referendum represents a higher voter turnout than any provincial or federal election in Canadian history.

Then Parti Quebecois leader and Quebec premier Jacques Parizeau shockingly blamed “money and the ethnic vote” for the referendum loss, arguably showing the heart of the modern sovereignty movement to be racist at its highest level.

So, when it comes to O Canada, sovereignty and separation would actually be better served with an accompanying explanation than colonialism.

In an age when colonialism and racism seem to be attached to all things federal in nature, let’s at least have our associations correct before attaching labels.

Far more often than not, opinion sways against our national anthem because of religion, which translates to Christianity and the modern era’s opposition to its inclusion in matters of state, education and/or sports participation.

And, let’s be honest, too many board members, associations, organizations and elected political bodies and personalities are more worried about offending anyone these days than making just and fair decisions that serve society as a whole.

Just ask the parents and board members who are OK with O Canada being sung by students every morning, as long as they sing it in Inuktitut, French and English.

Our national anthem is a tool of patriotism in saluting our country and a bridge to the nation we all want it to eventually become – reconciling for past wrongdoings and moving forward together on equal ground as one group of Canadians above all else.

In fact, it’s more than a little cool that the most recent locale to defend the national anthem’s place in our schools is in the true North strong and free.

It’s still a long road to where we want to eventually be, but I still truly believe we can get there working together for the benefit of all Canadians under one flag and moving forward to the same song.

You may think I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.

A familiar refrain on the path of togetherness as proud Canadians.

Food for thought.