Monday August 14, 2017

David Alexander Robertson and IsKwé stand up for missing and murdered Indigenous women

Cree writer David Alexander Robertson has collaborated with Cree musician IsKwé on the graphic novel Will I See?, which sheds light on missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada.

Cree writer David Alexander Robertson has collaborated with Cree musician IsKwé on the graphic novel Will I See?, which sheds light on missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada. (IsKwé musik/David Alexander Robertson)

Listen 17:07

In Will I See?, Winnipeg artists David Alexander Robertson and IsKwé addresses a First Nations epidemic. May is an Indigenous teenager who discovers the dark and tragic stories of missing and murdered Indigenous women in the graphic novel. The collaborative effort aims to galvanize a nation by calling attention to the culture of fear and anxiety that permeates Indigenous communities.

What May represents

DAR: The other day my daughter was taking the bus to swimming. She didn't call us when she got to the swimming pool. Because I know this is happening to thousands of our women, I drove across the city just to see her in the pool. That, to me, is who May is. She embodies Indigenous women that are powerful, strong and beautiful but under threat right now. A lot of the book is standing up against that threat together and saying no to it, we're not going to stand for it anymore.

ISKWÉ: I've been responding to this epidemic based on friends and community and distant family. It's taken on a new life because I have this beautiful niece who is growing up in Winnipeg. She is the biggest part of my inspiration in terms of making sure that I do everything in my power to try and create a safer place. It's our younger generations that we need to care about.

Significance of spirit animals

ISKWÉ: We have our clan systems and our teachings based on the animals and how you connect to what can be your family outside of the walking world. They're meant to be reflections of this in addition to guides and keepers and guardians that are helping the women — that we've lost or the people who are still remaining — walk through the rest of life together. The seven teachings are really important because they connect the present with past. They connect the living with those having passed on. They connect the present with the future by providing strength and guidance. They give us a sense of community and a sense of where we belong, as individuals and as a culture and as nations.

David Alexander Robertson and IsKwé's comments have been edited and condensed.