March 9, 2010

After reading a particular post last night on Facebook…

Robin Harvey The Prime Minister suggested we change the lyrics, as O Canada was ‘sexist’. We posted this article… But they will not proceed with it

… I decided to do a little survey.

I had class last night at 6:00pm and again at 7:30pm.  When I went back for the second class, I asked the manager at the school, “If I asked you to sing your national anthem, could you?”  Her eyes lit up, she started sputtering, and rather than answer MY question, proceeded to tell me about the problems in Canada with OUR national anthem.  She said the song was demeaning to women, and that a lot of people are upset.  I asked her if she read the news in English or Chinese… Chinese, of course.

Eventually, she did tell me that she could not sing their own anthem.

I asked the kids in the next class.  Took a bit of explaining, but they understood what I was talking about, and all answered no and laughed.  Is this what the national anthem of your country is supposed to inspire – laughter?  I was actually taken aback, since most Taiwan people are so proud of this country, and it’s food, and it’s people, etc., but when it comes to national pride, most laugh.  When they reach the age to go to university, a lot have a burning desire to study in the United States, not their own country.  Many do not have the affluent parents that can send them to the US for 4 years, so they do end up staying in Taiwan.

I must admit, that I too, probably could not sing MY national anthem.  I remember in elementary school, we had to stand at attention, and sing along when the flag was raised, but most times, just before classes began, the schools would play the national anthem and we had to stand up.  My fellow classmates would be talking to each other, or giggling, or slouching, but there definitely was not pride in listening to, nor singing, our national song.

Every country has one.  After reading the posts last night, I was going through the song in my head.  All of a sudden, I could ‘hear myself’ humming the American national anthem.  AIYO! (Chinese for, OMG).  Why is it that I can remember more of the American anthem than my own?  Could it be that, our national anthem has been changed a couple of times?  Is it because our family lived so close to the American border?  Is it because I’ve watched so much American television, and still tend to over the internet?  Is it because the American national anthem is as much a part of people’s lives in the US as GOD??  I don’t know.

Another memory I have in school, and after reading the London Free Press article that my sister sent the link for, it would have been around 1980 or so.  One of my schools (since I went to so many), had had a contest to see who knew the national anthem.  I remember hearing that the words had been changed, but as a teenager, who cared?  I, like my friends and classmates, barely knew the old version, why would we remember the new version?

I remember again, living in Ottawa and hearing our national played.  Ottawa is kind of unique in playing the national anthem, because the province of Québec is just across the river from the Parliament Buildings.  During national holidays, you could stand on Parliament Hill and listen to the anthem being played (with words) in both languages.  Not two songs, rather one song, half English, half French.  Now, knowing that I barely knew the anthem in English, how was I supposed to know the French version?  Or the bilingual version?  So, you stand there, somewhat respectable, and when it finished playing, cheered, and the day continued.

Yes there is always going to be national pride during great events like the Olympics.  Canada wins gold, suddenly everyone knows the national anthem.  Here’s a poll.  And I don’t mean to be disrespectful to anyone, but let’s give it a year.  Go back to Vancouver in March 2011, and ask anyone on the street, to sing or at the very least, say the words to the national anthem.  I honestly think, you will be hard-pressed to find one or two people who could do it.

All this aside, the ‘controversy’ as I read it is about a single word in the phrase, “… in all our sons command…”  Okay, so this STUPID woman on Parliament Hill has absolutely nothing better to think about, in the vast country we call Canada, than the fact the word ‘sons’ is in our national anthem?  Does Canada not still have more important social issues to worry about, or have they all been taken care of in the nine years I’ve been away.  Canada is now a Utopian society, and the last thing left is to change a word in the national anthem?  W-O-W!

I truly and patriotically love Canada.  Canada is MY home and native land.  I defend my country when I hear comments made in Taiwan.  Okay, so I work in Taiwan.  I live in Taiwan.  I pay my taxes in Taiwan.  However, even though I’ve been asked, and told many, many times, that I can become a Taiwan citizen, I will not!  It’s not that I don’t like Taiwan, Taiwan is not MY country.

I will never criticize it’s government or what it does.  I will play devil’s advocate to get the students to think about what they say about their government, but since I am not a citizen, I do not vote, hell, I can’t even buy property (not that I could afford it anyway), so I have NO RIGHT to criticize how they run their daily business.

In the same light, I do not feel that Taiwan people have the right to criticize MY HOME AND NATIVE LAND.

Oh well… guess it’s time to Ask Jeeves (, “What are the lyrics to the Canadian national anthem?”



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2 responses to “March 9, 2010

  1. bilbet

    In reply to your blog, I can honestly say that your father and I both know the Canadian National Anthem, from start to finish, both (older & new) versions.
    Unfortunately I have lost the french version over the years, being a bit removed from my Mother province. At that point in time, every child going to school in my part of Quebec knew both the American and Canadian anthems.
    Yes, most Canadians today can probably sing the American with no problem.
    The influence on our country by the United States has led to our downfall in this respect.
    Unfortunately there are not many totally Canadian content and owned TV stations here, compared to the U.S. and we do watch American produced TV.
    Why our people are not as patriotic as the American is likely because we are a more passive country. We all know deep down that we are good, our country is the best and we are thrilled to be able to live and grow here. We just never thought it was a necessity to brag to the world about our fortune.
    This is my view and my story and I’m sticking to it.

  2. Robin

    Just a quick reply about the national anthems.

    I can sing Canada’s national anthem, with no problem, but we do hear it when we watch hockey games or go to baseball games or Nascar races, right before the big event. I can also sing (most of) the words to the U.S. national anthem, which I think is rather catchy. Not that Canada’s isn’t, but being from Canada and hearing it every day while going to school, it’s more about pride I think, which was definitely seen throughout the Olympics.

    The U.S. anthem is more upbeat and personally, I just enjoy the music better.

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