CHEK Upside: World-renowned artist creates masks to raise funds for Island sports program

WatchRichard Hunt is using his creative talent to design wearable masks in helping fundraise for the Indigenous youth Thunder Rugby program.

For more than 50 years, Richard Hunt has produced Indigenous art that has caught the attention of some of the world’s most prestigious venues.

Born in Alert Bay and raised in Victoria, Hunt’s work sells for thousands of dollars and has been featured in museums like the Smithsonian and the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. The Victoria High School alum has also gained a reputation for his rugby balls, which feature elaborate designs using Indigenous symbols.

Hunt has always had a passion for sports and now he’s decided to use his talents in helping out the Victoria-based Indigenous youth Thunder Rugby Program. About six weeks ago, Thunder Rugby program director John Lyall asked Hunt if he could help design wearable masks in which people could purchase and wear to help stay protected from COVID-19.

“I thought, great idea. Help the kids out and hopefully, they get to play one day,” said Hunt.

“We have to be self-sufficient, self-reliant, try and keep our fees as affordable as possible for our kids and so, you know, we make a little bit of money on each sale and it goes towards our Thunder indigenous Rugby programs,” said Lyall.

Hunt is a former rugby player who strongly believes in the power of youth sport in developing character and relationships.

“It’s friendship. [I have] lots of friends from when I played way back that I still hang out with today,” said Hunt.

With the Thunder Rugby program on hold for now due to COVID-19, everyone is hoping for a quick return to the pitch. But for now, these masks have been a much-needed lifeline for the struggling program.

“We tried it out and got really good success with it.We still need to keep our nose above the water so it’s been great for us,” said Lyall.

“I think that’s great, hopefully, we sell more and if not, we’ll come up with another idea,” said Hunt.

For more info on the masks, email John Lyall at jlyall [at]




Kevin CharachKevin Charach

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