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Jully Black Makes Small Change to ‘O Canada’ That Makes a Huge Difference

Jully Black performing the national anthem at the NBA All-Star game 2023
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Canadian singer-songwriter Jully Black made a change to Canada’s national anthem that makes a huge difference today. 

While performing the national anthem before the NBA All-Star game in Salt Lake City, Utah this weekend, Black altered one line to recognize the Indigenous people who lived on the land before European settlers arrived. 

See also: Alberta’s Indigenous-led tourism experiences are among ‘National Geographic’s’ top 2023 travel destinations.

What line did Jully Black change in ‘O Canada’?

Black changed the opening line of “O Canada, our home and native land,” with “O Canada, our home on native land,” adding a slight emphasis to the word “on” when she sang, according to CBC.

This one word would significantly give honour, support and recognition to the Indigenous community who have often been overlooked and unrecognized

Related: Facing Canada’s colonialism: Calls to rename and remove landmarks.

Why this small change matters

It’s no surprise that Canada has had a long history of colonization, oppression and lack of recognition of Indigenous people. In June 2021, the Government of Canada passed Bill C-5 to make September 30 a statutory holiday observed as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and the first urban Indigenous Ceremonial Grounds in Canada are being built in Edmonton to help recognize Indigenous communities and create a safe place. 

As the Canadian government continues to grapple with reconciliation efforts, Black hopes that her subtle change ultimately leads to action. “This one word would significantly give honour, support and recognition to the Indigenous community who have often been overlooked and unrecognized,” The R&B singer tells Yahoo! News.

And that one word is exactly what the Canadian Walk of Fame inductee was aiming for as many fans have shared positive feedback to Black’s subtle change, including some who belong to the Indigenous community. Isaiah Shafqat, a Mi’kmaq student and Indigenous student trustee with the Toronto District School Board told The National that he praised the change to the lyrics.

“It was exciting. It was a shock, because, you know, Indigenous people, we listen to ‘O Canada’ and we always hear ‘home and native land.’ And that’s not true,” he said. 


“That one word, for me, felt right because it’s fact, and I wanted to lead with love and fact,” Black said. 

See also: 10 Indigenous people who shaped Canadian history.

Although some felt proud of Black’s revision, some weren’t so keen. As the conversation continues, it’s important for Canadians to take a moment to reflect and educate themselves further on the significance of recognizing Indigenous communities and what the anthem really means. Plus, to those who didn’t appreciate the change, it’s a moment to think about how the change doesn’t take away from their already existing privilege.

“I reached out to some Indigenous friends to say, first of all: ‘How do you feel about me doing this anthem?’” Black reportedly told TSN’s Kayla Grey after her performance. “And I got some feedback, and so I really dissected the lyrics, to really sing it with intention.”

“Now I’m singing it in a whole other meaningful way,” she added.

“I didn’t know how much this would mean to him. But now I do. And to every person who has lived generationally through being Indigenous, and just want the world to know that their lived experience matters.”  

You may also like: Canadian model Ashley Callingbull is the first Indigenous woman in ‘Sports Illustrated’ swimsuit edition.

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