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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

North Cowichan considers extending tax payment deadline by two months. (File photo)
North Cowichan considers extending deadline for property tax payments

A two-month deadline extension to Sept. 1 gets three readings

John Horn is leaving his position as executive director of the Cowichan Housing Association. (File photo)
John Horn leaving Cowichan Housing Association

Will take on role as executive director of John Howard Society in Nanaimo

Cowichan Tribes Chief William Seymour has taken a medical leave of absence but expects to return soon. (Citizen file)
Chief William Seymour takes leave from office

Seymour will return once fully recovered

A cougar was sighted in the 500 block of Cedar Avenue in Duncan on May 6 at about 9:30 p.m. (Facebook)
Cougar sighted in residential Duncan

Spotted in the Cairnsmore neighbourhood

The Lake Cowichan branch of the Royal Bank of Canada is closing. (Google)
Lake Cowichan’s RBC branch will close in November

RBC says banking needs will still be met

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Black bear tranquillized, relocated after wandering around residential Ladysmith

A juvenile black bear was spotted near 2nd Avenue earlier Friday morning

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Ally Thomas, 12, seen in an undated family handout photo, died on April 14 from a suspected overdose. Her family says they are frustrated more public supports weren't available when they tried to get her help. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Minister says suspected overdose death of 12-year-old pushing B.C. to ‘do better’

Minister Sheila Malcolmson of Mental Health and Addictions says the government is working ‘as hard as we can’ to build a system of care for youths

At this Highway 3 check point, police officers will be asking for identification from drivers, documentation regarding the driver’s name and address, and the purpose for the driver’s travel. (RCMP)
No fines handed out at 1st COVID-19 roadblock as checks move across B.C.

Cpl. Chris Manseau says a total of 127 vehicles were stopped at a roadblock in the Manning Park area

Most Read