Anne-Marie Cayer and Celina Laursen, rural midwives on Haida Gwaii, are pictured in their “Behind the Mask” comic shared by local family doctor Caroline Shooner on Thursday, April 23, 2020. (The Boon Docs/Submitted photo)

Boon Docs comics illustrate Haida Gwaii health staff ‘Behind the Mask’

Family doctor and cartoonist Caroline Shooner shares inspiration for new comic series

The Haida Gwaii family doctor behind the Boon Docs comics has been working on a new series to stay connected with colleagues during social distancing.

Caroline Shooner told the Observer she was inspired to create the “Behind the Mask” series this past spring, when local health practitioners were trying on new scrubs as a COVID-19 safeguard.

“Not everybody wears scrubs at work and administration suggested that they would be a good thing to wear as an additional precaution to limit the spread of the virus,” Shooner said. “We were just getting ready at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and getting geared up, and people were trying out different scrubs.”

But that was easier said than done for registered nurse Jonathan Stinson, who was too tall to fit much more than his orange headband.

Another nursing colleague suggested that Shooner draw Stinson, “who looked kind of funny.”

“Then as I was doing it I realized it was a lot of fun,” Shooner said, adding that drawing is therapeutic and it “evolved from there.”

She opened the series up to others, asking staff for their favourite colours, animals and quotes or expressions.

“Behind the mask we all look anonymous,” she said. “This was a way to connect with my colleagues when you’re supposed to socially distance and you start to feel that disconnection.”

On April 19 she shared the first comic in the series on social media, of Gordon Horner as a masked conductor, since he is the chief of staff at the Haida Gwaii Hospital in Queen Charlotte and has a background in music.

Since then she has shared almost 20 more of the colourful comics.

ALSO READ: Boon Docs, life as a rural doctor tickles the funny bone

Rural midwives Anne-Marie Cayer and Celina Laursen are pictured together in one of the comics, along with the insider expression: “Have you seen the birthing agate?”

“Whenever a mother is approaching her due date, it’s passed on to her as a charm of sorts,” Shooner said of the special rock formation. “In our obstetrical checklist it’s an important item.”

The comic for nurse Katie Greene may also require a bit of explanation for some.

When Shooner asked Greene what her favourite animal was, she replied “nudibranch.”

“I had to Google it,” Shooner said. “They’re amazing actually when you start looking at pictures. They’re like sea snails without a shell.”

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