The Canadian Red Cross, Canadian Mental Health Association, and Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo Economic Development & Tourism join forces to bring to life Back Home Again an animated short film with an all-star voice cast to help build mental health awareness and spark conversations in communities across Canada and around the world.

[Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada - May 3 2021] - Inspired by community resiliency after one of the largest wildfire evacuations in Canadian history impacted the lives of more than 80,000 residents of Fort McMurray and area in 2016, the animated short film titled, Back Home Again, has been brought to life in part with the support from the Canadian Red Cross, Canadian Mental Health Association and the Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo Economic Development & Tourism.

Largest Ensemble Of Award Winning Actors In A Canadian Short

Told through the eyes of the woodland creatures that inhabit the land of Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo, Back Home Again has an all-star voice cast that donated their time to the production, including Jeremy Renner, Martin Short, Kim Basinger, Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Michael J. Fox, Howie Mandel, Ed Asner, Lorne Cardinal, Gordon Pinsent, Mena Suvari, Bill Burr, Tom Green, Norm MacDonald, Harland Williams, Sherri Shepherd, Marlon Wayans, Scott Thompson, and Tantoo Cardinal.

Discover the film that takes you on a mental health journey...

Michael Mankowski is born and raised in Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo. Owner and operator of Alien Kow formerly known as Wood Buffalo Productions, an Alberta, Canada based award winning production house. A graduate of University of Lethbridge Bachelor of Management and Vancouver Film School 3D & Animation Program.

Back Home Again was inspired by real testimonials that Michael recorded (while working with the Canadian Red Cross) of individuals who experienced the forest fire, evacuation and the road to recovery. Extensive health research was utilized in the creation of the film, script and content including research from the University of Alberta, CMHA and a number of other studies related to mental health and resilience in disaster/post disaster situations.

The storyline of Back Home Again is easily transferable to any major stressor globally. The central theme of how adversity can also bring about an opportunity to cultivate resilience was very obvious. As a physician for 30 years, I have certainly seen the effects of stress on the human body in both adults and children. This film provides an opportunity for educators to embrace this as a means to expand awareness. I am sure there will be many meaningful discussions in classrooms and community centers following the viewing which will result in better mental and physical outcomes.

Dr. Bal Pawa

Author of The Mind-Body Cure

The film provides messages of hope, strength, resiliency, collaboration and unity in the face of adversity - all of which are important for those recovering from a disaster. We know from experience that recovery takes time, and the increased awareness and subsequent discussions created by Back Home Again will go a long way to build preparedness and resiliency in communities across Canada and beyond, now and in the future.

Jenn McManus

Canadian Red Cross Vice President, Alberta and the Northwest Territories

Now more than ever, in the wake of what we have all endured through the COVID-19 pandemic, we need inspiring stories like this. We all need emotional and mental support and our goal in making this film is to empower one another to be mental helpers.

John Schneider


I really wanted to make this film because I grew up in Fort McMurray and was there when this tragedy hit. I wanted to show the world how a community could come together and rebuild. I hope this film sparks conversations everywhere about how we are all one global community, and we all need one another.

Michael Mankowski

Writer, Director and Creator

CMHA is honoured to partner with Back Home Again and the productions created to educate people on mental health and resilience after a disaster or traumatic event. After viewing the film, we are confident this animated documentary will build hope, resilience and community.

David Grauwiler

Executive Director of the Canadian Mental Health Association

As a clinical psychologist who works with those recovering from trauma and adversity, and has had the pleasure of being involved in this important project, I believe that Back Home Again is an important conversation starter - that inspires dialogue about mental health and fosters community connection so that we can, individually and collectively, takes steps toward healing.

Dr. Joti Samra, R.Psych.

CEO & Founder, MyWorkplaceHealth

Having been involved with many of the disasters in Canada over the past two decades, seeing the devastation first hand, as well as the impact on evacuees – there is an undeniable need for this film.  It conveys the loss and recovery after a disaster in a compassionate and subtle way that works to alleviate the trauma and stress on children and families.  A wonderful gift from a true survivor.

Greg Solecki

Past President IAEM Canada

As the Watch Commander that day and still being able to call this home, I am proud of the response during and after this tragedy. The achievements of the Wood Buffalo RCMP members in partnership with the RMWB Bylaw and emergency service during the evacuation and return HOME will always be an emotional topic.  Thank you for creating and sharing the experiences of those who contributed during your research.  Hats off to the residents of Fort McMurray.

Keith Horwood

Watch Commander, RCMP

Wow! It was an emotional journey watching Back Home Again. I was moved by the empathy, humour and sensitivity of the writing. Telling this story through the lens of the animals is such a compelling way to engage and inspire young people who are struggling to cope with the trauma of experiencing natural disaster. I have no doubt that this will serve millions of children and families as an important part on their road to recovery.

Rebecca Kirstein Resch

Founder & CEO of Inqli

I wasn’t expecting to be so deeply moved when we sat down to watch this film. Back Home Again carries you through what it takes to get back on your feet, deal with the cards you’ve been dealt, and rebuild the life you wish for yourself. Back Home Again is a wonderful tool to support the mental wellness not just of people affected by ‘The Beast,’ but all those who’ve faced and will face tragic circumstances in their lifetime.

Matt Moreau

The Earth Group

Back Home Again not only represents the “brave, caring, and undefeated” spirit of the residents and first responders of Fort McMurray, but also the potential for all people to work together and be resilient in the face of disaster and loss. To echo Jack Rabbit, “I, for one, am in awe of the work you’re doing.

Stacey Terry

Online Business Manager for Online Reinforcements

Poignant. Entertaining. Eye-opening. I fell in love with the characters who shared the magnitude of the impact from their hearts. "The beast" caused mental, physical and emotional devastation. And the power of love and resilience united all and brought them home again. It's a story the world needs to hear. It gives us hope- no matter what!   

Yvonne Heath

Love Your Life To Death, Retired Nurse

Back Home Again is a beautiful and heartfelt story told by the animals in the Wood Buffalo forest. In my 22-year career as a first responder, I have witnessed the grief, stress and the trauma that occurs from natural disasters. This movie is helping create awareness and will change the way we plan and prepare for large scale emergencies in the future. A must watch!  

Geordie Heath

Paramedic and Supervisor for EMAT

Back Home Again told emotional stories in a lighthearted and thoughtful way that will undoubtedly help Fort McMurray and so many others to heal from the long-lasting effects of a natural disaster.

Sven Resch

Founder & CTO of Inqli