An Indigenous policy expert is accusing Mississauga mayor and potential Ontario Liberal Party leadership candidate Bonnie Crombie of jumping “on social media trends,” after Crombie proposed a motion to change the lyrics of Canada’s national anthem.

Crombie’s Motion to city council proposes to change the lyrics of Canada’s national anthem from “our home and native land” to “our home on native land.” If passed, it would have Mississauga send a letter requesting the federal government change the lyrics of O Canada.

The motion says, “the new wording represents a truth which is critical to the understanding of present-day Canada and that such a change is consistent with the federal government’s commitment to Reconciliation.”

When asked about Crombie’s effort to change the national anthem, MacDonald-Laurier Institute Indigenous Policy Analyst and Outreach Coordinator Melissa Mbarki told True North the latter “may bring you some popularity [but] does nothing to improve the lives of Indigenous people.”

“I want non-Indigenous leaders to start dialogue on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission with local Indigenous leaders and stop jumping on social media trends because it seems like the cool thing to do,” she said. “We have serious issues happening in our communities like poverty, lack of clean water, crime, addictions and suicides”

Mbarki added that many Indigenous peoples who have chosen to leave the tragedy on reserves to live in urban areas, like the GTA, are facing serious issues, such as finding affordable housing, employment and training. She says politicians are currently not asking Indigenous people what is needed in urban areas, something she finds frustrating.

“One of the things cities should be looking at is how they can help the vulnerable Indigenous population. If they can’t answer nor have the resources to help, then what is the point of changing the anthem?”

Crombie’s initiative comes after Canadian R&B singer Jully Black sang “our home on native land” while performing the national anthem at an NBA All-Star Game in Salt Lake City, Utah earlier this year. 

“I was personally moved by Jully Black’s rendition,” Crombie told CTV News. “I think this is a small effort to address our country’s very dark history.”

On Twitter, multiple Canadians also criticized Crombie’s initiative.

A Twitter poll conducted by CTV also saw 87.9% of respondents say they disagreed with changing the national anthem’s lyrics from “our home and native land” to “our home on native land.”

Back in January 2018, Parliament passed legislation introduced by the late Liberal MP Mauril Belanger, which changed the lyrics of O Canada from “True patriot love in all thy sons command” to “True patriot love in all of us command” – to make the national anthem gender-neutral.

That change had received support from Liberal, NDP and Green Party MPs, as well as 11 Conservatives.

True North reached out to Mayor Bonnie Crombie’s office for comment, but they did not respond in time for publication.