Alan Kurdi family says tributes like Missy Higgins' Oh Canada should seek permission
Missy Higgins's powerful call to 'golden shores' of Canada reminds Kurdi family of their loss
An Australian artist has penned a musical tribute to Alan Kurdi and it's struck a nerve with the boy's family.
The song called Oh Canada describes the Kurdi family's tragic journey fleeing Syria and was released on Thursday.
After hearing the song, Alan's aunt Tima Kurdi who lives in Coquitlam, B.C., said she immediately sent it to her brother, Alan's father.
He told her he had already heard it and was saddened by the song.
"He said, 'She is telling the truth. She is telling the story of the tragedy ... but honestly, every time somebody is using my son's picture, no matter what the reason is, it will put us down to zero with our feelings and bring back the pain,'" said Tima.
In an interview from Melbourne with CBC News, Higgins empathized with the Kurdi family.
"I just can't imagine losing my entire family," she said. "All that I can say is that I'm so, so sorry."
The singer said she was "completely devastated" after seeing the photo of Alan Kurdi lying on the beach and it prompted her to write the song.
She wanted to process her emotions, remember Alan and remind the world to not let another tragedy like Alan's happen.
Tima Kurdi did find the song "beautiful" and understands it was well-intended, but both she and her brother would prefer anyone who uses Alan's story to let the family know ahead of time.
Higgins said she did not mean to disrespect the Kurdi family and was surprised her song has had global reach.
Canada's 'golden shores'
Despite its name and lyrics that hauntingly call for Canada to "open her arms" to its "golden shores," Higgins says she's not assigning any blame.
She said she understands the country has already welcomed tens of thousands of refugees.
Instead, she aims to create a sense of universal responsibility.
Through the video's child-like animations and actual drawings from Syrian children showing stick figures subjected to guns and bloodshed, she hopes to send a message.
"There's something that is ultimately the same about all of us, all of our children. They all draw the same, they all want the same things, they all really need the same things — a safe place."
All proceeds from the song will benefit a charity in Australia that helps asylum seekers.