2016, Movies, Music

Missy Higgins: Oh Canada (2016, Nicholas Kallincos, Natasha Pincus)

I saw this music video posing as a short film at Hot Docs last night. It’s an animated film about Alan Kurdi. It includes pictures drawn by refugees but most of it was professionally animated (even though it is given the look of a child’s picture).

This is a manipulative video and a manipulative song that shows a real lack of knowledge about contemporary events in Canada  – given that, by the time Higgins released the song, Canada had taken in 2.5 times as many Syrian refugees as Australia (Higgins is Australian). (The “film” aired prior to Chasing Asylum, a film about what Australia currently does with the boat people who seek asylum.)

To focus on a dead kid on the beach for a song is no more illuminating about what’s happening in Syria and with the migration crisis than when the media focused on it. Children have died before, they were dying at the same time as Kurdi, and they continue to die. Symbolism is not an answer and an appeal to the emotions of a country whose population altered the way they were voting in a federal election because of this very refugee crisis feels a bit like a lecture. And it feels hypocritical coming from an Australian. Write a song about your own damn country. (She probably has…)



“He was carried from the water by a solider
And the picture screams a thousand different words
He was running from the terror with his father
Who once believed that nothing could be worse

So he’d handed a man two thousand precious dollars
The way you’d rest a bird in a lion’s open jaw
And he told his boys that Canada was waiting
There was hope upon her golden shores

But at night he said a quiet prayer to the wind

Oh Canada, if you can hear me now
Won’t you open up your arms towards the sea?
Oh Canada, if you can help me out
All I ever wanted was a safe place for my family

Well the days were long but the nights were even longer
And the babies never left their mothers’ side
But the boat was small and the waves were getting stronger
And they began to fear they’d not survive

So the father said “We gotta hold each other tighter
I’m not losing everyone I love tonight
And we’ve come so far I know that out there somewhere
There’s a place where we’ll not fear for our lives”

But as he held onto the side of the boat he looked up at the sky

Oh Canada, if you can hear me now
Won’t you open up your arms towards the sea
Oh Canada, if you can help me out
The sea is turning and I think we’re going down

Anyone if you can hear me now,
Won’t you open up your heart towards the sea
Anyone, please help us out
All we ever wanted was a safe place for our family

There’s a million ways to justify your fear
There’s a million ways to measure out your words
But the body of Alan being laid upon the sand
Tell me how do you live with that?”

  • Released 19 February 2016
  • Format: Digital download
  • Length: 4:28
  • Label: Eleven
  • Songwriter: Missy Higgins

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