In the midst of the Syrian refugee crisis, Melbourne native Missy Higgins takes her tears and her pen, then creates a song that hopes to spread a message of compassion for the refugees.
In a post on her own blog, Missy explains what moved her to write the song. According to the singer-songwriter herself, “Oh Canada” was inspired by the moment she saw the photo of Alan Kurdi, the three-year-old child who washed up on the shore of the coastal town of Bodrum Turkey, one bleak September morning in 2015.
As the photo from Nilüfer Demir got shared by Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch, the photo went viral, eliciting strong reactions from the world over. According to Time, the photo was “the most heartbreaking” of all the photos snapped in 2015. This was the same photo that moved Missy Higgins, which also inspired the animations and imagery in her video.
According to The Guardian, the video for “Oh Canada” was produced by stark raving productions, headed by Natasha Pincus. Pincus said, upon hearing the first draft of Missy’s song, she had to pull her car over. She “literally broke down in tears.” Pincus and Stark Raving Productions were also behind Gotye and Kimbra’s “Somebody That I Used To Know.”
Pincus traces out the story of how she stumbled upon the final concept for the video. As she was bouncing out ideas for the production, she discovered that she could have access to drawings from actual refugees—children who are part of rehabilitation programmes. As the images from Caritas and World Vision poured in, the bedrock of the “Oh Canada” video came together.
Tied with Nicholas Kallincos’ animations that were drawn to match the children’s handiwork, what resulted was a melancholy storybook feel to the “Oh Canada” video, lending more melancholy to the already-moving lyrics.
As Missy pleads to the world, even her own country, to have understanding and compassion for the Syrian refugees.
“He was carried from the water by a solider. And the picture screams a thousand different words. […] He told his boys that Canada was waiting; there was hope upon her golden shores,” the lyrics say. “Oh Canada, if you can help me out; all I ever wanted was a safe place for my family.”
According to the official video for “Oh Canada,” 100 percent of net proceeds of sales for “Oh Canada” will go to ASRC (Asylum Seekers Resource Centre). The video was published on YouTube on February 18, 2016.