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WATCH: KPU’s ‘O Canada’ video remixes anthem with rarely-heard lyrics, graphic-novel look

Created for online convocation ceremonies, the 2020 video has ‘become part of cultural fabric at KPU’
A scene from the “O Canada” anthem “remix” video created by KPU music instructor Dr. Gordon Cobb and students in 2020 for online convocation ceremonies in 2020, and now played during in-person events at the university. (Photo:

A colourful, multicultural and multilingual video version of “O Canada” continues to have post-pandemic life at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU).

Created in 2020 by music instructor Dr. Gordon Cobb and students for use during online convocation events, the “remix” video anthem continues to play at KPU’s in-person ceremonies, as a permanent fixture of those gatherings.

In Newton this week, close to 1,700 students will walk across the stage at KPU’s Surrey campus during four days of in-person convocation ceremonies, from Feb. 13-16, where audiences will hear a fresh take on Canada’s national anthem. The events are also shown online, on

Cobb said he and the students who created the video aimed to transform the anthem into something more relatable to the university’s diverse body of graduating students.

“It’s one of my favourite projects here,” noted Cobb, who launches KPU’s Wake Up social justice music festival Feb. 23 at the Surrey campus.

“The video has kind of become part of the cultural fabric at KPU.”

The 208-second ‘O Canada’ starts with Lauren Berg singing a little-known second verse of the anthem, followed by an electronic remix of the music and lyrics sung in six languages (English, French, Italian, Urdu, Pakistani and Mandarin), tabla beats and the kind of graphic novel-style animation found on Instagram and TikTok.

One highlight is a rap performed by Amandeep Alex Mudhar (aka MUDHR), who tells his story of arriving at KPU and impressions of Canada after arriving from New Delhi as an international student.

Editing magic made individually-recorded students appear as a choir in the video, posted to Cobb’s Youtube channel.


When asked to create the video for online ceremonies, Cobb didn’t want to make an ‘O Canada’ that represented the past.

“I wanted to create something that not only represented the current world and the zeitgeist, but also would be a place where our students could see themselves and where their families could see their kids,” he said.

The video starts with these rarely-heard lyrics: “O Canada, where pines and maples grow; Great prairie spread, and noble rivers flow,” followed by words that will be new to many listeners.

In his research, Cobb said he found three different versions of the anthem’s lyrics.

“We found the one Lauren sings, which is so beautiful and different from the lyrics we all know, and the point of that was to actually create a dichotomy between a traditional Canadian identity and a contemporary Canadian identity,” Cobb explained.

“So the second verse, the one Lauren sings at the beginning of the video, is meant to represent an older traditional Canada, which is why it’s filmed in more realistic style, in almost an operatic style, sort of the music of Canada’s past, and then when we kind of explode through the bhangra player and the crazy orange colours, that moves into the context of today’s Canada, to tell the story of the new identity of a Canadian, with technology, modern music, digital content, graphic novels, all of these influences.”

Behind-the-scenes photo shows the creation of the “O Canada” video for KPU convocation ceremonies. (Submitted photo)
Behind-the-scenes photo shows the creation of the “O Canada” video for KPU convocation ceremonies. (Submitted photo)

Now graduated from KPU, Berg sings in a couple of bands, including a jazz trio, according to Cobb.

“I worked with her on a couple of other projects, which is why I brought her in,” Cobb recalled. “She comes in really prepared, knew all of the lyrics and harmonies, nailed them both in one take, which was important because we were doing all this work during COVID before there was a vaccine. We were all covered in masks and 20 feet apart from each other. It was all done with a lot of sprays and wipes, so I wanted to spend as little time with each performer as possible, minimal contact. So she came in, got in done in 10 minutes and we were able to move on, just amazing.”

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Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news for Surrey Now-Leader and Black Press Media
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