Howard La Fortune did what he knows best when he heard about people wanting masks for COVID-19. (File contributed/ Howard La Fortune)

Vancouver Island Indigenous artist takes unique approach to COVID-19 masks

Howard La Fortune thought he’d have some fun in designing a homemade mask

A Greater Victoria man has taken a tongue-in-cheek approach to COVID-19.

Indigenous artist Howard La Fortune has been carving for 50 years – from rings to masks and everything in between.

So when a friend joked that he needed a mask to help prevent spreading germs, La Fortune got on it: he found some yellow cedar from around the house carved a half-mask of a bear snout.

“It was something to do, and I usually have wood lying around the house so I thought, why not?”

On April 6, Canada’s chief medical officer Dr. Theresa Tam said that wearing non-medical masks could help people from spreading their own droplets to others, though it would not protect them from receiving germs themselves.

As a result, many people have turned to wearing homemade cloth masks while out in public, especially in busy places like grocery stores.

READ MORE: Wearing non-medical masks can stop spread of COVID-19 before symptoms start

La Fortune figures that his mask could meet these measures.

“It could probably even be set up to have one of those headbands placed behind it,” he says.

Having the opportunity to carve not only keeps him busy, but could help him earn a couple extra dollars in a time when he’s not able to work; usually at this time of year he sells his art at the lower causeway in the Inner Harbour.

While he’s not sure what kind of price he would charge, he acknowledges he’d be taking a significant cut, since it takes about 16 hours to make one of the masks.

Regardless, if anyone is interested in one of the unique masks they can contact La Fortune on his Facebook page or at 778-700-2682.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

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Howard La Fortune did what he knows best when he heard about people wanting masks for COVID-19. (File contributed/ Howard La Fortune)

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