A screenshot of a short educational video informing residents of why they should wear a mask in public. All the artwork was drawn by 14-year-old Ashlea Burgess.
(photo courtesy Mike Lee and Ashlea Burgess)

An emerging Inuvik artist has loaned her talents to a manga-styled educational video to encourage residents in the Beaufort Delta and beyond to wear a mask and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In the video, anime-styled characters explain the importance of wearing a mask to protect people with compromised immune systems over a backdrop of numerous sites in Inuvik, including Chief Jim Koe Park, Mackenzie Road and the Igloo Church.

Ashlea Burgess, 14, was recruited by caremongerer Mike Lee to draw the panel-based short using characters from the anime My Hero Academia, but has been drawing since she was in kindergarten.

“She thinks the anime art looks cool and she has her grandmother who lives in Tuktoyaktuk that she would like to protect,” said her mother Brenda Wolki, adding Ashlea was completely self-taught. “Ashlea and I both enjoyed working with Caremongering Inuvik and Mike Lee on this important message of wearing masks in public.

“We believe that she has a future that is in the art industry.”

A screenshot of the short video Ashlea Burgess drew the artwork for.

Wolki said Ashlea was practiced in several styles but manga was her preferred style. While the family hasn’t explored the range of art schools out there yet, Wolki said the idea was definitely on her radar.

“She would love to go to art school but we have not yet been connected with one particular one yet,” said Wolki. “She follows a lot of different artists.”

Mike Lee, who put the video together, said he was hoping to get the video to a larger audience, potentially seeing if the GNWT would be interested in distributing the video.

“We are thankful to have been able to collaborate with her to showcase some of her many artistic talents,” he wrote in Caremongering Inuvik. He explained the idea came out of seeing other cultures where wearing a mask to prevent the spread of disease is a culturally accepted practice.

“We  had an idea for a while, on how to educate youth on the purpose of wearing a mask during this time of Covid-19. The idea to do something anime related was mentioned by Jonathon Michel,” Lee told Inuvik Drum. “But I had no idea where to find an artist we could use. But then I stumbled across Ashlea’s artistic talent through her mom, Brenda Wolki. I pitched the idea to Brenda and the concept was born.

“Caremongering has always suggested wearing a mask when out in public, and sharing a bit of international culture on why other countries wear masks allowed us to share some of that insight. Now, inside and outside the territory, masks can play a significant role in curbing further spread.”

Check out the video here. And don’t forget to wear a mask if you can’t physically distance yourself.

A screenshot from a video reminding people of the importance of wearing a mask in crowded situations to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Eric Bowling

Your source for all things happening in the Beaufort Delta. Eric jumped at the chance to write for the Inuvik Drum after cutting his teeth in Alberta. He enjoys long walks, loud music and strong coffee....

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