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Politicians stage protest over university’s decision to ban the “Ode to Newfoundland”

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Politicians across Newfoundland and Labrador have registered their dismay with a decision by Memorial University to ban the singing of the provincial anthem at convocation ceremonies.

Members of the legislature staged a vocal protest on Wednesday by standing in the house of assembly and singing the “Ode to Newfoundland.”

The university has said it would not play the anthem because it omits Labrador and contains outdated language.

As well, university officials say the song does not reflect the many communities within the university. 

Barry Pettern, a Progressive Conservative member of the legislature, invited members to sing the ode in defiance and they obliged.

Some politicians have already urged Memorial to include both the “Ode to Labrador” and the “Ode to Newfoundland” during its graduation ceremonies.

The “Ode to Newfoundland” was written in 1902 by Sir Cavendish Boyle, a British civil servant who served as colonial governor of Newfoundland. The music was written by British composer Sir Hubert Perry. Newfoundland was a British colony at the time; it didn’t join Confederation with Canada until 1949.

The provincial government adopted the ode as Newfoundland and Labrador’s official anthem in 1979. The song speaks of “shimm’ring white” snow, “starlit” nights, and ends with “God guard thee Newfoundland.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 11, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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