Australian singer-songwriter Missy Higgins has a new track out that goes straight to the emotional heart of the refugee crisis gripping the world.
‘Oh Canada’ tells the story of Alan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian boy whose body was washed up on a Turkish beach last September. Photos of the child’s body on the shoreline, in his red shirt, shoes still on, and then a soldier picking up the body and carrying it away, swept around the world provoking global debate on how to deal with the issue of refugees.
Higgins released the song this morning, with an equally moving animated video Nicholas Kallincos, and Natasha Pincus, who previously produced Gotye’s ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ clip. The ‘Oh Canada’ video features gut-wrenching drawings by children in Damascus and Beirut, in Caritas and World Vision rehabilitation programs.
The song title – a play on the country’s national anthem – is a reference to the Kurdi family’s plan to seek asylum in Canada.
Higgins, who became a mother last year, is donating all profits from the sale of the song to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.
“Like most people, the photo of little Alan Kurdi being carried out of the water shook me to my core. We often read about the tragic plight of refugees but I think that picture exposed us to the reality in such a raw way that the truth became inescapable,” Higgins said.
“From where I sat in my comfortable living room nursing my newborn son, the tiny child in that wrenching image could have been my own little boy. I felt overwhelmed by a profound protective instinct for him and people like him.”
She wrote the song from the perspective of the child’s father, Abdullah, who’d lost his two sons and his wife.
When writing the song, Higgins tried not to preach instead saying, “It’s simply my attempt to make sense out of senselessness.”
But it concerned Higgins that so many people were “trying to co-opt Alan’s story for their own purposes and that lead to all sorts of claims and counterclaims about their circumstances”.
“If the song inspires anyone to do something on behalf of refugees – to speak up for their rights and to push back against those who seek to inflame our fears and prejudices – then I think that would be best of all,” she said.
You can watch ‘O Canada’ below: