Those at the NBA All-Star Game in Salt Lake City, Utah probably didn’t notice a thing, except the stunning talent of singer Jully Black on display singing Canada’s national anthem. But those watching here at home noticed Black’s not-so-subtle rewrite. And most were loving it.
Black is a Canadian singer-songwriter, producer and actress who was inducted into the Canadian Walk of Fame in 2021. She is a bona fide Toronto treasure, and was one of our most inspiring women of 2018 in part because of her appearance on CBC’s Canada Reads that year offering a passionate appeal for the novel The Marrow Thieves by Indigenous writer Cherie Dimaline.
The lyric in question was changed to “Oh Canada, our home on Native land” instead of “Oh Canada, our home and native land.” A big difference, and one that confronts Canada’s colonial past in a blunt but beautiful way.
“O Canada… our home *on* native land.”@JullyBlack 👏👏 pic.twitter.com/bDXzfT77ov
— THE SHIFT (@theshift_sports) February 20, 2023
And Black’s message resonated across the country, and a #OurHomeONNativeLand hashtag was created in support of her efforts. The singer posted a message of support she received from long-time collaborator Roy Perrault that sums up what many must be feeling.
“I went to bed feeling heard, and I woke up feeling seen. Representation is everything for the underrepresented. Allies taking a stance on a global platform for you and your entire community and for the land we share is an entirely different, higher level of understanding and powerful show of support. It takes nerve. It takes spine. It takes LOVE,” Perrault wrote, in part.
Black also got a shout-out on social media from another socially conscious performer, the one-and-only Chuck D from iconic hip hop group Public enemy.
Your love means the WORLD to me! You’ve been #ThatGuy to impact change and educate to elevate us all! This is less about me and more about being apart of the change in any way I can! Love you Bro ❤️ https://t.co/cXG5sDkVqf
— Jully Black (@JullyBlack) February 20, 2023
In an interview with Kayla Grey on TSN’s The Shift, Black said she reached out to her Indigenous friends to ask them about
“We’ve been singing this anthem since kindergarten and now in the last three years, especially with Indigenous rights and what’s going on in our country and the history and the learning, I too am learning,” she said. “So I reached out to my Indigenous friends and said, first of all, how do you feel about me doing this anthem. And I got some feedback, and so I really dissected the lyrics to really sing it with intention because I know it like my name and now I’m singing it in a whole other meaningful way.”
Reaction has, of course, not been exclusively positive.