Jim McMahon/Mapman®

Canada’s national anthem recently got a remix. After decades of controversy, lawmakers voted to change the English lyrics of “O Canada!” The anthem originally began, “O Canada! Our home and native land! True patriot love in all thy sons command.” The new, gender-neutral version replaces “thy sons” with “of us.”

Many prominent Canadians had long campaigned for the change, saying the “sons” version excluded Canadian women. (The country also has a French version of the anthem, with lyrics that are different from the English version and which is already gender neutral.)

There had been 12 previous attempts to change the English lyrics since “O Canada!” became the national anthem in 1980. Both of Canada’s legislative bodies, the House of Commons and the Senate, needed to approve any revision. This latest attempt passed in the House, then stalled in the Senate for 18 months. But during the final vote, some conservative lawmakers who disapproved of the change were absent. Those lawmakers had argued that the country should hold a referendum so all citizens could have a say.

Frances Lankin, the senator who sponsored the bill, says the change is an important step. “It may be small. It’s about two words. But it’s huge,” she recently told reporters. “We can now sing it with pride.”