How do you communicate the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic to a community dealing with entrenched homelessness and drug addiction like the Downtown Eastside?

In the City of Vancouver’s case, the answer is partly through art.

The city has adapted its existing mural support program to help fund COVID-19-related murals to be painted on some of Vancouver’s growing number of boarded-up shop windows.

“It’s important because not everyone has internet,” said DTES community advocate Karen Ward, who wrote a message on one such mural near Hastings and Carrall streets.

1:45City of Vancouver unveils measures to protect vulnerable DTES residents

City of Vancouver unveils measures to protect vulnerable DTES residents

That mural is a collaboration with well-known DTES street artist Smokey D, whose work has also helped communicate the toll of the overdose crisis.

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The painting depicts a coughing figure and illustrations of the virus, along with advice to stay home, wash one’s hands 10 times a day, and avoid touching one’s face.

Not only do few people in the neighbourhood have internet access,

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