News / Canada

Video: Toronto opera singer records first Arabic 'O Canada'

From far and wide, it’s O Canada like you’ve never heard before.

Toronto opera singer Miriam Khalil has been recruited to make the first Arabic recording of our national anthem — an effort led by the Canadian Arab Institute just in time for the country’s 148th birthday.

The result of the project — designed to get people who speak Arabic more engaged with their citizenship — is being released today.

“This is a celebration of our citizenship in this country,” said Raja Khouri, president of the institute.

“When you hear something that is being said in your mother tongue, it has more emotional impact, and makes you pay more attention,” he said. “We hope it will be a step further in fostering responsibilities as citizens of this nation.”

The group translated the anthem from English. They are releasing a purely Arabic version of the anthem, plus a trilingual version – English, French and Arabic.

They envision using the new versions at various sorts of community events such as lectures, galas or picnics, where both bilingual and Arabic-only speaking people would be gathered, said Khouri.

“This is a gesture of creating enthusiasm and boosting interest in the community, a sort of message of solidarity and affinity with the larger Canadian family,” he said.

Being involved was a “big honour” for Khalil, whose parents immigrated here from Lebanon when she was seven years old.

“This is our home, and this is our national anthem as well,” said Khalil.

Canada is about diversity, and it is a good thing to have it reflected in an important symbol as the national anthem, she said.

“It felt like going back to my roots,” she said. “I actually think it should be translated into every language.”

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