Thank you very much for your replies, they have really made me think about how to approach this story. I never meant to offend anyone, but I can totally understand from your replies that someone feels that way, and if so, I'm honestly sorry.
When I first heard about the Highway of Tears I was as horrified as anyone to learn that so much evil can exist, and that it repeatedly struck in a place already full of tragedy. I've read through the official Board of Inquiry report on the murders, plus a lot of articles about the events, the situation around Vancouver, the psychology of serial killers, and I've watched several documentaries, so I am aware of the poverty, drug addiction, survival sex trade, aboriginal discrimination and downright indifference and failure on the part of the RCMP in taking decisive action, especially in the Pickton case, where so much tragedy could have been avoided if they had taken it seriously.
As I read more and more about it I felt like I had to somehow raise awareness, and tell a story that at least introduces people to these events. As an outsider I concede that I do not have the personal connection to these events that would give me credibility in writing a story like this, but I would never use the outline of these events as a cheap way to create a 'cool mysterious story'. But you raise a valid point that perhaps because of that I had better no try in the first place as it risks offending people or not doing the tragedy justice. And that would be the last thing I want to do.
So in that light, I agree with the suggestions that it is better to distance myself from the real-world connection. The story in my game was already fictional, not referencing any real victims or specific cases, and set in a fictional town, so in effect the story could already stand on its own without the true story angle. I want people to be able to enjoy my game and learn something from it, without feeling personally offended by it because of the weight of a cultural trauma hanging over it.
I was also aware that the Haida people live in a slightly different region, so changing locations should also mitigate that disparity somewhat. There is only one specific fable from their heritage I am referencing, not a sweeping generalization of their culture at large or anything like that, so I have faith I can handle that well.
Do you guys think that would ease your worries, or is there more I should reconsider? Right now the game is still quite malliable, so I am 100% open to suggestions, or if someone wants to be a consultant on the narrative part to make sure I treat a subject like this with the gravitas it deserves, I'd be thankful.
New titles I'm considering: Highway of the Lost, Augier's Peak, The Forsaken. Any other suggestions are welcomed.
I hope this is a good solution, and if anyone want to discuss anything related to this or trade thoughts on the subject, feel free to comment or email me.
Regarding the feedback on game-specific stuff like art and GUI: thanks too for the kind words and the constructive criticism, I will respond more in-depth to those things once the matter of the story and subject has been resolved. I won't move forward with those things too much until I know people are content with the new direction.