So, in writing “Will I See?” I went on an incredible journey with some amazing people. This book was the most collaborative book I’ve ever done, and it involved, not surprisingly, the most moving pieces. I’m also really excited that the book isn’t the end of the journey; Will I See? will also be seen in a music video for Iskwé’s amazing song, Nobody Knows.
The journey itself, from start to finish, was something I wanted to share in the book. I wrote an afterword for it, but because of length, it didn’t get in. I’m sharing it here, for those who might be curious:
Will I See?
The first time I met Iskwé, she was the headliner for the Hip-hop night I was hosting for Aboriginal Music Week in Winnipeg. During her set, Iskwé performed a cover of “Passing Me By” by The Pharcyde, my all-time favourite rap song. Since then, she’s become a friend, and whether we’re representing Team Cree at a friendly poker night or texting about music or books, I’ve learned she’s an even better person than she is a singer/songwriter (and she’s pretty damn good at the latter). I’ve also learned we are concerned with the same social issues, including the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. I have written books like Betty: The Helen Betty Osborne Story on the subject and she has written powerful songs like “Nobody Knows” and “Will I See” in response to the murder of Tina Fontaine.
The journey of Will I See? began in November, 2015, with a Facebook message from Iskwé that read: “You know…I’d wanted to make a music video for ‘Nobody Knows’ in a style that you made the trailer for your book.” I jumped at the chance to be involved and soon after our brief conversation I was reading through the story concept developed by Iskwé and her cousin Erin Leslie. Their idea was stunning, and about two seconds later I emailed Iskwé about adapting their concept into a graphic novel, with an accompanying music video for “Nobody Knows.”
Will I See? is truly a coming together of talents and, most importantly, of like-mindedness. It all feels like it was meant to be, right down to when GMB Chomichuk, an incredible Winnipeg artist, came on board. From day one, when Iskwé responded to the idea of working together with, “Well shit, then! Let’s do it!” (a sentiment I echoed), this multimedia project—in words, images, and music—has been a project of passion and, in the end, a call to action. We are deeply concerned with the safety of our Indigenous women and girls in this country and this is a way for us to create change by sharing a story that challenges, that leaves a mark. Now, it’s up to you. Change occurs through action, not just reading a book, watching a video, or listening to a song, but in sharing knowledge, in passing it on. Continue the journey.