Graphic novel to raise awareness for missing and murdered Indigenous women

Dallas Jansen, CONTRIBUTOR

David Alexander Robertson (left), Gregory Chomichuk (middle), and IsKwé
(right) answer questions during the Q and A at the launch of their new graphic novel, Will I See? THE PROJECTOR/ Dallas Jansen

The numbers show how big of a problem missing and murdered Indigenous women are in Canada. According to Statistics Canada, between 2001 and 2014, Indigenous women were six times more likely to be a victim of homicide than other people.

On March 14, 2017, author David Alexander Robertson, illustrator Gregory Chomichuk, and musician Iskwé (Marcia Ostashewski) hosted the launch for their new graphic novel, Will I See?, at The Good Will Social Club. The graphic novel was inspired by Iskwé’s song “Will I See” that’s about missing and murdered Indigenous women.

“She wanted to make a music video for her song and contacted me for some ideas,” said Robertson, 40. “I emailed her back saying we should make the song into a graphic novel, and then animate the characters into a music video.”

This is Robertson’s 16th graphic novel, and it isn’t his first about missing and murdered Indigenous women. His life as a professional writer started in 2008, when he released a graphic novel called The Life of Hellen Betty Osborne. Hellen Betty Osborne was an Indigenous woman murdered in The Pas in 1971.

“It’s all about educating,” said Robertson. “I want to educate Indigenous and non-Indigenous people about topics that are really important.”

Iskwé, 36, was born and raised in Winnipeg and began making music about missing and murdered Indigenous women when she came home to visit her family in Winnipeg in August 2014. Two days after IsKwé arrived in Winnipeg, Tina Fontaine, 15, was found dead in the Red River.

A few days after Fontaine’s murder, Iskwé joined hundreds of other Winnipeggers as they marched to a monument at The Forks recognizing the number of missing or murdered Indigenous women in Manitoba.

“I remember what it felt like watching my community fall apart,” said Iskwé. “That was the pivotal moment for me.”

Rosanna Deerchild, the host of CBC Radio One’s Unreserved — a show that shares the stories, music, and culture of Indigenous Canada – hosted the Q and A at the launch. She said she thinks this novel is a step in the right direction toward solving this problem.

“This book humanizes the story so we’re not just dead, we’re not just missing, we are somebody’s daughter,” said Deerchild.

Proceeds from the launch were donated to the North End Women’s Centre.