Just a week after starting a campaign to raise awareness of the issue of Canada's Missing or Murdered Aboriginal Women (MMIW), artist Evan Munday announced that he was stopping the project over concerns that he may be doing more harm than good for the families of the victims.
Munday's idea was to draw a portrait of a missing or murdered woman each day and post it in a tweet aimed at Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He was motivated to take action by Harper's comment that the issue isn't "high on [the Canadian government's] radar."
In a lengthy statement posted on his website on Monday, Evan Munday explained why he's halting the project. Here's the key passage; boldface type is Munday's own:
After extensive conversation with a group formed of families of some of the missing and murdered women, I believe I cannot continue the project in a way that respects these women’s autonomy or a way that helps rather than harms the families of these thousands of women. I apologize for hurting the families of these women and for making them relive painful memories.
Objections to the project included concerns from the victims' families over permission—Munday was creating his images from photos he found online, without the involvement of the families—and Munday's "cartoony" style of illustration. One family member told Munday that "There is nothing funny or cute or joking about my mother being killed by the police, My journey for justice for the past thirteen years has never been fun."
Munday also urged those who'd supported his project to support the efforts of others:
If you were supportive of the illustration project, please consider donating to the indigenous-led organization, It Starts With Us (itstartswithus-mmiw.com/donate), as I’ve done, and will do so again. If everyone who retweeted one of my illustrations donated even a few dollars, it would make a huge difference to their advocacy initiatives. Please also consider getting involved in one of the Women’s Memorial Marches on February 14. And if you’re more into Twitter, Gregory Scofield (@gregoryscofield) and Lauren Crazybull (@LCrazybull) are both doing very important projects regarding #MMIW that you may want to follow.