Toronto illustrator Evan Munday started a Twitter campaign on Monday to draw more attention to missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada.
Munday will tweet one black and white illustration every day to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Twitter account @pmharper, using ink and brushes to create images of the more than 1,200 women who are currently listed in the RCMP’s database as missing or murdered.
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He chose Harper as the recipient because of the prime minister’s year-end interview with CBC’s chief correspondent Peter Mansbridge in which Harper was asked about launching a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women and he responded by saying, "It isn't really high on our radar, to be honest."
"Just hearing him say that, it was just such a glib non-answer that it was the catalyst for me doing this," Munday said.
The images are part caricature, part comic-book style. They are created from photos Munday found online.
"I hope it's not viewed as offensive. Part of it is trying to do a tribute and thinking about them and their lives as I do the drawing," he said.
"I spoke with Evan to share how impressed and touched I am by the initiative," said Michèle Audette, president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC).
Audette said that it is important that all Canadians be aware of the reality that aboriginal women are facing, and Munday's project is an indication that non-indigenous Canadians are starting to take it on themselves to do something.
NWAC was one of the first organizations to lead the charge on missing and murdered indigenous women. In 2005, it began the Sisters in Spirit campaign that conducted ongoing research on violence against aboriginal women.
'It's happening all the time'
In December, on the 25th anniversary of the École Polytechnique de Montréal shootings, Munday drew portraits of all 14 of the women massacred. It started him thinking about violence against women and in particular, violence against indigenous women.
"This is something that didn’t just happen in 1989. It is something that is happening all the time and is happening in greater proportion in Canada’s indigenous community," said Munday, adding, "So I got the idea, I would do something daily to honour the women who have been missing or murdered since the 1980s."
So far, Munday has created three images. He usually draws at night and then walks to a nearby office supply store, scans the image, and then tweets it out in the morning.
His second image was of Danita Big Eagle. It has been almost eight years since Big Eagle was pulled into a black truck outside of her mother’s home in Regina on Feb. 11, 2007.
Big Eagle’s image shows a young woman with shoulder-length hair and a slight smile. When she disappeared, she left behind two children. Her mother, Diane Big Eagle, who continues the search for her daughter to this day, was very pleased to hear Munday had chosen Danita to draw.
"It makes me happy to know that someone would take time to notice a lot of our girls are missing all over Canada," she said from her home in Regina.
Re: Danita Faith Bigeagle. RT @joyea306 i remember her as an awesome kind and caring woman.— @idontlikemunday
Her granddaughter, Brooke Watson, recently alleged police drove her out of the city with their electronic equipment off before turning around and taking her to jail. She stayed there for 12 hours. Regina police have since requested an investigation by the Public Complaints Commission on the alleged mistreatment of Watson.
It's people like Big Eagle who Munday wants to reach out to. He said he wants to connect with organizations and grassroots groups and activists who have spent years working with families of missing and murdered indigenous women.
"Public awareness is important to have," said Audette. "I think [Munday] will have a huge impact to the rest of Canada."