Julie Mungall places her painted stones at the Brookside veterans cemetery in Winnipeg, Saturday, October 24, 2020. Mungall is commemorating Remembrance Day by painting poppies and other designs on rocks and hiding them around the city, sometimes in plain sight, for people to pick up and take home with them. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Julie Mungall places her painted stones at the Brookside veterans cemetery in Winnipeg, Saturday, October 24, 2020. Mungall is commemorating Remembrance Day by painting poppies and other designs on rocks and hiding them around the city, sometimes in plain sight, for people to pick up and take home with them. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

‘It means so much:’ Families thankful for painted poppy rocks on Remembrance Day

Many who set out to find one of her poppy-painted rocks have a close relationship with Remembrance Day

COVID-19 will make gathering for Remembrance Day ceremonies or even buying a poppy difficult this year, but one woman is hoping her unusual artwork will help provide meaning to some of her neighbours.

For the last three years, Julie Mungall of Winnipeg has been painting intricate poppies on rocks and placing them for locals to find. This year, she’s also making sure the rocks are weather- and COVID-proof.

“I take extra precautions,” Mungall, who works for an insurance company, said in a phone interview. “After my rocks are sealed, I wipe them with Lysol wipes before I go out and hide them.”

Mungall is among enthusiasts found on Facebook who design rocks for occasions including Christmas, Halloween and Pride Month. The rocks are stashed for people to find and keep, or gift to others.

“I would say out of the 50 rocks that I’m putting out this year (for Remembrance Day), I’ll get about 20 confirmed replies that, ‘I found this rock,” Mungall says.

Many who set out to find one of her poppy-painted rocks have a close relationship with Remembrance Day.

“So many people who found my rocks (say), ‘Thank you so much. This rock is beautiful. It means so much. My grandfather served or my sister is currently serving.’”

While most people keep or gift the rocks, a few place them on the graves of loved ones who were veterans, Mungall says.

“I hide them pretty hard. And people will go out there in the dark with flashlights looking for them,” she says.

“People had so much value in the poppies. It was just the incentive I needed to keep doing it.”

READ MORE: Remembrance Day planners scrambling as COVID-19 upends traditional ceremonies

Mungall says there are multiple “rocking communities” on Facebook with thousands of members. Some are placing their own versions of poppy rocks across the country.

The Royal Legion of Canada has adapted its annual poppy campaign to include 250 “pay tribute” boxes across the country. The boxes have a glowing poppy tap pad that allows people to donate by using any tap technology card or smartphone before they take a flower.

The legion says Canadians can also purchase poppy face masks to cover up during the pandemic.

For Canadians who prefer to mark Remembrance Day in a more traditional way, Veterans Affairs Canada has a list of socially distanced activities.

“For the most part, the shift has been from holding large events across the country to hosting much smaller events,” said Robert Löken, national manager of honours, awards and commemoration.

Löken is advising Canadians to check with their local Remembrance Day ceremony organizers to see what restrictions are in place and whether there is a possibility of attending an event.

Remembrance Day falls during national Veterans’ Week and the department says it has created several virtual ways to mark the 75th anniversary in September of the end of the Second World War. One of them includes release of a podcast called “Faces of Freedom” that profiles the lives of former and current Canadian heroes.

Online streams of local Remembrance Day ceremonies will also be available.

“One of the things that I would really like all Canadians to do is, if they’re unable to attend a ceremony because of the restrictions, if they don’t have access to a computer or a streaming device … on Nov. 11, at 11 o’clock, just take that one minute of silence to reflect on the importance of the freedoms that we have today,” Löken said.

“That in itself is commemorative.”

———

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Fakiha Baig, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusRemembrance Day

Just Posted

Chemainus Indigenous Peoples Weekend organizer Connie Crocker. (Photo submitted)
Chemainus Indigenous Peoples Weekend online June 19-21

Event’s been in the planning stages since February without knowing COVID implications

Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley was passed up for a cabinet position by Premier John Horgan. (Photo submitted)
Op-Ed: Modernizing forestry and prioritizing reconciliation

Doug Routley writes on Fairy Creek and Central Walbran Valley old growth deferrals

The log retaining wall that supports the access road to the Ladysmith Community Marina is failing and needs to be replaced. (Cole Schisler photo)
Remediation work for community marina access road expected to be costly

A log retaining wall between the access road and the parking area is failing and must be replaced

Marine biologist Rick Harbo pulls a lid from the Ladysmith harbour, which he uses to monitor the presence of native and non-native species in the Ladysmith harbour. (Cole Schisler photo)
Unidentified sponge may be the latest marine species invading Ladysmith Harbour

Marine biologist finding dozens of alien species in warm-water harbour, none of them threatening

More and more graffiti has appeared in Ladysmith’s downtown core during the pandemic. (Cole Schisler photo)
Council creates rebate program to encourage graffiti clean up

Property owners can receive up to $50 to help fund graffiti removal

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

Wild rabbits are all over Chilliwack, but people often think they’re someone’s lost pet and try to ‘save’ them. But the owner of Chilliwack’s Reptile Room says good intentions can have bad consequences for wild animals. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Owner of Chilliwack’s Reptile Room asks people to leave wild animals in the wild

Amber Quiring says people who think they’re helping are actually doing more harm than good

Photos displayed at a vigil for former Nanaimo outreach worker Amy Watts, whose body was found June 3 and whose death RCMP are investigating as a homicide. (News Bulletin photo)
‘We need to do better,’ says mother of woman killed in Nanaimo

Vigil held for former outreach worker Amy Watts, whose body was found downtown June 3

Thousands of protesters make their way through the downtown core during a Black Lives Matter protest in Ottawa, Friday June 5, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
MPs’ study of systemic racism in policing concludes RCMP needs new model

Chair of the House public safety committee says it’s time for a reckoning on ‘quasi-military’ structure

A case filled with packages of boneless chicken breasts is shown in a grocery store Sunday, May 10, 2020, in southeast Denver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-David Zalubowski
One million chickens euthanized during labour dispute at Quebec slaughterhouse

Premier says waste amounts to 13 per cent of the province’s chicken production thrown in the garbage

Premier of Manitoba Brian Pallister speaks at a news conference at the Manitoba Legislative Building in Winnipeg on Wednesday, April 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Lipnowski
Provincial leaders want more federal money for health care, plan to meet in fall

Premiers ask Ottawa to increase its share of overall health spending to 35 per cent from 22 per cent

A section of the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies is seen west of Cochrane, Alta., Thursday, June 17, 2021. A joint federal-provincial review has denied an application for an open-pit coal mine in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, saying its impacts on the environment and Indigenous rights aren’t worth the economic benefits it would bring. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Panel says Grassy Mountain coal mine in Alberta Rockies not in public interest

Public hearings on the project in southern Alberta’s Crowsnest Pass region were held last fall

An old growth cedar stands in a cut-block within the Caycuse Valley. More than 100 prominent Canadians, have signed an open letter calling for the immediate protection of all remaining old-growth forests in B.C. (Submitted)
Brian Mulroney and Greta Thunberg among 100 celebrities pushing to save B.C. old growth

List includes Indigenous leaders, scientists, authors, Oscar winners

Most Read