She was more anxious than she had ever been when Canadian singer Jully Black took the stage to perform the national anthem of her nation at an NBA all-star game on Sunday. She confessed, "I had a secret.".
She was about to change the song's lyrics, "our home and native land," as she was singing it live in front of a packed Salt Lake City stadium.
There was a lot of attention given to the one-word change, which was a nod to indigenous rights.
And some people believe the anthem's alteration should remain in place forever.
Toronto-native Ms. Black claimed that she stopped singing the national anthem, O Canada, a few years ago after several indigenous communities in the country claimed to have discovered evidence of unmarked graves on the grounds of former residential schools.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, approximately 150,000 native children were taken from their homes and enrolled in these government-funded boarding schools; at least 3,200 of them are thought to have perished as a result.
According to Ms. Black, "that really woke everything up.".
But when Ms. Black was asked to sing the national anthem at the basketball game, she decided it was time to pay more attention to the lyrics she had been singing since she was a young girl. When she did, she claimed, the transformation was evident.
Our homeland is a lie, claimed Ms. Black. "The reality is that we live on native land. ".
Indigenous people in Canada have a long history of oppression and assimilation.
Reconciliation efforts, which aim to mend the rift between indigenous people and non-indigenous people as well as the government, have gained momentum in recent years, spurred on by indigenous communities searching for unmarked graves and burial sites at former residential schools.
However, the lyrical change has received widespread acclaim, including from indigenous people who have praised the display of solidarity.
Niigaan Sinclair, an Anishinaabe professor of native studies at the University of Manitoba, stated that Jully Black shared her power and her chance to draw attention to us. Every Canadian should follow its example. " .
Fundamentally, he said, "our laws and policies, the flag, and the national anthem have all been used to oppress us as indigenous people, and the more we can challenge that, the better.".
However, Mr. Sinclair was quick to point out that altering the national anthem is less important than raising the standard of living for Canada's indigenous population. .
He argued that altering a single word in a song was of far less importance to Canadians than the daily oppression and violence endured by indigenous people.
Some have criticized the lyrical change since the game on Sunday.
Regardless of when someone was born, Canada is their "native land," according to Lorrie Goldstein, a columnist for the Toronto Sun. Given her intended message, the phrase "our home on Indigenous land" would be more accurate, but that doesn't scan. ".
Ms. Black stated that she appreciated the criticism. "It's a win no matter what," she said, "even for those who might have something negative to say about it... it's still conversation happening.". .
The century-old anthem has already undergone one change; in 2018, the words "all thy sons command" were changed to "all of us command" to make them gender-neutral.
At the time, the Senate declared, "O Canada now includes all of us.".
Now some are hoping Ms. Black's unofficial change will stick. She knows the change is long-lasting, at the very least.
I'm not able to sing the national anthem any other way, she said.