"Didn’t realize my action would garner such a response": Jully Black honoured for changing "O Canada"
For Canadian R&B singer Jully Black, changing a single word in the Canadian national anthem triggered a maelstrom of hate and support.
Now, she’s been recognized for having the courage to change the lyrics of “O Canada” from “our home and native land” to “our home on native land.”
The singer was invited to the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Special Chiefs Assembly in Ottawa from April 3 to 6.
On Monday afternoon, Black took to the stage, where she was honoured with a star blanket. The singer teared up as she wore the white, black, and gold blanket.
“I didn’t realize that my action would garner such a response,” said Black to the chiefs, according to Windspeaker. “But on behalf of the Black community, I say we are one. We are better together.”
Black sang the slightly altered anthem during her pre-game performance at the NBA’s All-Star Weekend on February 19 in Salt Lake City.
Today in #popculturehistory @JullyBlack sings the Canadian anthem at the #NBAAllStar and seamlessly made the lyrics more inclusive while reminding us all, we are indeed on native land. pic.twitter.com/6coG4fn4VR
— Marie the Pop Culture Historian (@karmacakedotca) February 20, 2023
Almost instantly, online reactions to the intentional edit made to promote Indigenous history went viral under the hashtag #OurHomeOnNativeLand.
During an interview on The Brandon Gomez Show, Black explained why she chose to sing the anthem the way that she did.
“I didn’t change the anthem; I spoke the truth. That’s it. It wasn’t written correctly,” she said. “How about that? Let’s go back to the songwriter.”
She also said that she spoke to Indigenous friends who were touched by her efforts.
“And the tears, like, ‘Julie, you would do that? You would make that sacrifice?’ It didn’t feel sacrificial,” she said.
Canada’s national anthem was officially altered in 2018 when the Senate voted to change the end of the lyric “True patriot love in all of thy sons command” to “in all of us command.”
With files from Al Sciola