Jully Black was recognized by the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) for her minor yet meaningful change to the Canadian national anthem at the NBA All-Star Game in February. Black replaced one word in the anthem's opening line with "Our home on native land" to acknowledge the Indigenous people who lived on the land before European settlers.
Canadian R&B singer Jully Black received recognition at an AFN Special Chiefs Assembly in Ottawa for her minor yet meaningful tweak to the Canadian national anthem at the NBA All-Star Game in Salt Lake City, Utah, earlier this year. Black substituted one word in the anthem’s usual opening line, “O Canada! Our home and native land!” with “O Canada! Our home on native land” to acknowledge the Indigenous people who inhabited the land before European settlers.
Black was presented with an eagle feather and draped in a blanket during a Blanketing Ceremony by AFN Knowledge Keepers and National Chief RoseAnne Archibald. National Chief RoseAnne Archibald described Black as “a truth-teller” whose performance of Canada’s national anthem at February’s NBA game in Utah sparked a conversation.
In her opening remarks, Archibald said that “she shifted consciousness in that moment on a huge international stage, simply for singing the truth,” adding that “today there’s a legitimate discussion about changing that word in our national anthem permanently, so meegwetch to Jully,” thanking her in Algonquin.
During the ceremony, the singer expressed her gratitude, saying that “I didn’t realize that my action would garner such a response.” Black also stated, “On behalf of the Black community, I say we are one. We’re better together.”
After receiving the eagle feather and blanket, Black performed her rendition of “O Canada” for the assembly, again including “home on native land,” prompting crowd cheers.
Black’s minor yet significant modification to the Canadian national anthem sparked a conversation about Indigenous peoples’ recognition and rights. This recognition is vital to achieving true reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous peoples.
In conclusion, Jully Black’s actions and recognition at the AFN ceremony exemplify the power of music and its ability to create change and shift consciousness.