Jully Black Honoured by Assembly of First Nations for "O Canada" Lyric Change

She took part in a Blanket Ceremony and was presented with an eagle feather at an AFN Special Chiefs Assembly in Ottawa

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Apr 4, 2023

Jully Black has now been honoured by the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) for changing the lyrics to the Canadian national anthem during her performance at the NBA all-star game back in February, CBC reports.

The singer was in attendance at an AFN Special Chiefs Assembly in Ottawa — unceded territory of the Anishinabe Algonquin Nation — last night (April 3) to be commemorated for her slight update to "O Canada," having modified the "Our home and native land" lyric to "Our home on Native land."

She was presented with an eagle feather for her contribution to reconciliation on the global stage and wrapped in a blanket during a Blanket Ceremony by AFN Knowledge Keepers and National Chief RoseAnne Archibald. After that, she reprised her rendition of the anthem, with the altered lyric reportedly prompting cheers from the crowd.

While holding back tears, Black expressed her gratitude. "I didn't realize that my action would garner such a response," she said, adding, "On behalf of the Black community, I say we are one. We're better together."

Following the initial performance in Salt Lake City, UT, the artist explained why she chose to switch up the lyrics. "If I have an opportunity to help you amplify a voice, I'm going to, and so that's why I made the decision," she told CTV's Your Morning of the decision, made in consultation with her Indigenous friends. "I knew this was the biggest stage to sing our anthem."

Black has since been subjected to backlash, including threatening and racist messages from some — and an outpouring of support from the many who appreciated her undeniably correct "remix" to lyrics written over a century ago.

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