9 Year Old Girl Replaces “God” with “Please” in O Canada & Festival Pulls Plug on Her Performance

Jul 29, 2014

By Diana MacPherson

On July 1st, I wrote a quick note about how PM Harper asked God to keep our true north strong and free in a Canada Day tweet. I find the PM’s repeated invocations of a deity that at least 25% of Canadians do not recognize divisive in a country that recognizes multi-culturalism as a core value affirmed in the constitution and enshrined as an ideal in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. So, when the leader of all the people of Canada invokes his god in a message to all Canadians on Canada Day, I am disappointed.

However, the PM wasn’t the only Canadian to exclude a large minority of fellow Canadians on Canada Day. Adults took offence when a 9 year old girl replaced “God” in O Canada with “please”. After 9 year old Selaena sang a beautiful rendition of O Canada at a Canada Day celebration in Dutton Ontario, her father, Austen, posted a video of her performance on Facebook and his timeline quickly filled up with glowing praise for his daughter’s talent. Here are some of the comments:

Awesome!! She has a gift! Keep encouraging her to use it ! It could turn into her career some day, she is that talented! 


Wow very awesome. Great job Selaena . Wonderful voice. 


WOW!!!!!!!! Incredible voice!!!! You must be very proud! Sign her up for the Arts School….!!!!!

Check out Seleana’s rendition of O Canada for yourself. Her father explains Selaena’s reasoning to sing “please” as follows:

She wanted to be inclusive, given that her and a lot of her friends don’t even know what ‘god’ is. My children are secular and neutral – free to make up their own minds when they are old enough to do so.

First of all – good job raising your daughter, Austen! It is clear Selaena shows compassion and sensitivity beyond her years and it is refreshing to encounter kids unburdened by dogma.

Now to the ugly stuff. Selaena was scheduled to sing O Canada at theCactus, Cattle and Cowboys Festival in Rodney on July 12 but because she replaced “god” with “please”, the people who run the festival pulled the plug. Selaena’s dad, Austen explains:

Apparently the committee has spoken and the people that run the Cactus, Cattle and Cowboys Festival in Rodney no longer want Selaena to sing the National Anthem on July 12th, because she replaced the word ‘god’ with ‘please’ – which was her choice. Thank you religion for being close-minded and bigoted towards those that don’t share your ignorance. Yes, I said that.


Read an update to this story here.

12 comments on “9 Year Old Girl Replaces “God” with “Please” in O Canada & Festival Pulls Plug on Her Performance

  • Very beautiful voice.
    I may be overthinking this, but it’s much more meaningful to say ” please keep our lands” , than “god keep our lands” .

    In the former, you are asking Canada to keep it’s lands, so the people of Canada.
    In the latter , you are asking God to do it all for them.

    I guess there could be 2 kinds of bigots that take offense to it :

    The religious dogmatists, who are angry that God can be replaced with “please”
    Nationalist dogmatists, who are angry because someone dared to change the national anthem.

    Now, that these dogmatists get mad is one thing, but the fact the organizers preemptively pander to them by cancelling the show, is completely outrageous.

    Next time I’m doing karaoke I’m going for this song and replacing “God” with “please” 🙂

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  • 4
    glenister_m says:

    While I certainly have no problem with the change, I can understand why people would object. National anthems, and certain songs, are part of a country’s pride, so unauthorized changes are not taken well (by purists?). Consider the outrage when C. Green dared to change “no religion” to “all religion” in John Lennon’s “Imagine”. I imagine trying to change the U.S. anthem would be considered a hanging offense.

    Here’s hoping the change catches on in Canada though.

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  • 5
    StickyWillie says:

    I’d ban national anthems altogether. Take out another brick from the wall that countries put up around themselves. The English sing God Save The Queen, distinctly anti-Scottish in its origins with a verse that finishes it off with, “May he sedition hush, And like a torrent rush, Rebellious Scots to crush…” And the Scots’ Flower of Scotland isn’t any better: distinctly anti English. Those of us Scots who are not anti English, the vast majority, hate the damned thing and wish it would go away. Full marks to the City of Glasgow for using Hamish Henderson’s Freedom Come All Ye instead at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony. A superb Internationale sung by a South African lady at the event.
    What’s required us a little national humility rather than national pride. Hammering anthems into the brains of children simply gives them a foundation for xenophobia and jingoism.
    And yes, I’m an internationalist, nationally secular.

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  • Kudos to both Salaena and Austen for their public display of intelligence, individuality and sense of freedom. Is this not what Canada proudly proclaims? As for the oppressors, their attempts to stifle a young Canadian’s talented vocal expression at the local Cactus, Cowboy & Cattle Festival will likely have reversed results. Hey, I’m in favour of tradition but perhaps the time has come for a 21st century upgrade of the Canadian anthem which is admittedly a bit stodgy and at times even boring. Maybe a submission from Gordon Lightfoot or Neil Young or anyone who cares might stir the pot. Maybe even a Referendum!

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  • Salaena and Austen, you are indicative of our future. The ignorant, Dogmatic, Religious people are slowly fading away, as indicated by the Church closures in our country. Please for the sake of Humanity, keep up your good work. Salaena you are a wonderful person with enormous talent. All the best to you and your wonderful family.

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  • 8
    Marthawannabe says:

    Yes, but the anthem has been changed already to include the God reference. The original had no such line.

    I don’t know why it was changed, makes no sense to me.

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  • 9
    Marthawannabe says:

    Some Americans and younger Canadians may not be aware that the lyrics were changed, probably at the time it was declared the national anthem (1980?). The original English lyrics that I grew up with had no reference to God. I am not an atheist but I do believe in the separation of church and state so this makes no sense at all to me.

    I always preferred God Save the Queen, easier to sing. But I see no way of avoiding the religious reference in that one.

    And for the Americans and Canadians who may not know, our head of state is Queen Elizabeth II and we are a constitutional monarchy.

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  • ” I find the PM’s repeated invocations of a deity that at least 25% of Canadians do not recognize divisive in a country that recognizes multi-culturalism as a core value”. That’s our Prime Minister – proudly divisive. He will go into the next election warbling: “Vote your values!!”, which is code for “We depend on your bigotry to get elected (in an anti-democratic first past the post parliamentary system), so if you oppose equal marriage rights, equality for women and if you like our penny-pinching approach to foreign aid, immigration and refugee policies, by all means, we’re your guys!!”

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  • 12
    iceman91321 says:

    I hope someone’s working on a decent version of “Please Bless America”. I’m not a fan of the current version, especially when I’m trying to enjoy a Dodgers game.

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