Winnipeg artists collaborate on graphic novel about missing, murdered Indigenous women

Will I See? is a collaboration between author David Robertson, illustrator GMB Chomichuk and musician isKwé.

Project by David Robertson, GMB Chomichuk, musician isKwé follows life of Indigenous teen

Will I See? is an upcoming multimedia project by David Robertson, GMB Chomichuk and isKwé, includes a graphic novel and music video about missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. (David Robertson and GMB Chomichuk)

An upcoming multimedia project that includes a graphic novel aims to show how a young First Nations girl sees the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women.

Will I See? is a collaboration between author David Robertson, illustrator GMB Chomichuk and musician isKwé.

It tells the story of an Indigenous teenager named May who encounters objects in her life that embody the spirits of Indigenous women who have died.

When May and her kokum (or grandmother) turn the keepsakes into a necklace, a "world of danger and fantasy opens up," a release from the group states.

Author David Robertson (left), musician isKwé (centre) and illustrator GMB Chomichuk. (courtesy David Robertson)

Collaborators said they want to use music, art and literature to create social change and serve as an example of what can be done to overcome the "epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls on a society level."

IsKwé and Robertson said the project came together naturally — both artists admired each other's work. Robertson is author of The Helen Betty Osborne Story, while Winnipeg-born isKwé was named one of CBC Music's musicians to watch in 2016.

May's story first emerged out of conversations isKwé had with her cousin Erin Leslie. But busy schedules and the demands of school prevented them from realizing the performance project they had planned.

That's when Robertson approached isKwé about turning May's story into something bigger — a multimedia project that included a graphic novel and a music video.

"So we started building the idea," she said. "I'm going to give the credit to Dave…. He just made it happen."

Two of isKwé's songs are essential inspirations for the project: "Will I See" and "Nobody Knows." Both songs are about the death of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine. Fontaine was found dead in a bag in the Red River in August 2014.

"They are two very different songs in tone but they are both equally powerful," said Robertson.

The author has referred to isKwé as "one of the most important voices in this country right now."

He hopes their work together affects change and helps resolve the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women over the long-term. He also wants it to spur action.

"Taking action can be as simple as having a discussion about it and sharing a video, lending a book to somebody," he said.

"People can read and see this video and become educated, inspired and really just increase awareness for an epidemic that's happening in our country."

Robertson said the music video will be released by the end of 2016. The graphic novel is set to be published in early 2017.

Collaborators behind Will I See? say they want to spur action on the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. (Courtesy David Robertson and GMB Chomichuk)