Missy Higgins' New Song Has The Internet Quietly Weeping

Caitlin Johnstone

In a heartbreaking video released today made from the drawings of refugee children, Missy Higgins' new song "Oh Canada" tells the story of Aylan Kurdi, the little refugee boy in the red T-shirt who washed up on a Turkish beach.


A new mother herself, Missy found the image particularly devastating. "From where I sat in my comfortable living room nursing my newborn son, the tiny child in that wrenching image could have been my own little boy. I felt overwhelmed by a profound protective instinct for him and people like him," Missy told Tone Deaf.


From that place of maternal inspiration, Missy tells the story from the perspective of the sole survivor of the tragic journey, Aylan's father Abdullah. Abdullah and his family were forced to leave their war-torn hometown of Kobani, Syria, to find a safe place for their family to live. Their aim was Vancouver, Canada, where Abdullah's sister Teema has lived for more than 20 years. They paid for a boat to take them from Turkey to the Greek island of Kos, when tragedy struck and the boat capsized. Abdullah desperately tried to hold onto his wife and two small children to no avail.

"I wanted to try to write this story from Abdullah's perspective because ultimately I felt his quest was so relatable," Higgins told Rip It Up. "I imagined that during that tumultuous boat journey, his heart cried out for Canada to embrace him and his family."

"Oh Canada simply aims to tell a story," Missy says. "It's not preaching anything in particular, it's simply my attempt to make sense out of senselessness."

The accompanying video is a powerful visual retelling of the journey, through the hands and eyes of refugee children.

The title "Oh Canada" refers to the destination of Kurdi's personal journey, but Canada itself has become a beacon for refugee activists since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came into power and personally welcomed Syrian refugees into the country.

Missy has pledged every last cent of the net proceeds from sales to go to the Australian Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC).

Grab some kleenex and someone to hold you and watch til the very end. The last image is particularly powerful.


[Photograph by Sipan Ibrahim/AP Images]