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

Trinity Kettyls and Mackenzie Rigg start their 5.4km loop in Gordon Head on Sunday cheered on by members of the Vikes soccer team. Theirs was the last lap of the 270km relay that raised over $67,000 towards the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada. (Armando Tura Photo)
Vikes Kick Cancer fundraiser in Saanich surpasses $67,000

Around the world, athletes virtually join Gordon Head relay

Brody Greer, 33, was reported missing by his family on Nov. 25. (Courtesy of VicPD)
Victoria police looking for high-risk missing man

Brody Greer, 33, last seen by police Nov. 5

Island Health reported an exposure of COVID-19 at Sir James Douglas Elementary on Nov. 23. Those with high-risk exposures have been contacted directly, the health authority says. (Google maps)
Victoria elementary school added to list of COVID-19 exposures

Fairfield school is region’s third school listed with an exposure this month

A spokesperson for the Peninsula Country Market is upset that their third and final Winter Market won’t happen this Saturday in Central Saanich’s Centennial Park following moves by the municipality. (Facebook/Peninsula Country Market)
Central Saanich postpones weekend Winter Market, organizers upset

Lorea Tomsin said municipality’s move runs counter to provincial direction

Penny Hart is emotional outside the Saanich Police Department as she pleads for helpt to find her son Sean Hart last seen Nov. 6 at a health institution in Saanich. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: Mother of missing Saanich man begs public to help find her son

Sean Hart last seen leaving Saanich mental health facility Nov. 6

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 24

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(AP Photo/Haven Daley)
POLL: Do you think the current COVID-19 restrictions should continue beyond Dec. 7?

One week into the new restrictions to curtail the spread of the… Continue reading

School District 27 announced the first confirmed case of COVID-19 this week (Nov. 23) at Lake City Secondary School Williams Lake campus. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Entire gym class at northern B.C. high school isolating after confirmed COVID case

Contact tracing by Interior Health led to the quarantine

After twice have their wedding plans altered due to COVID-19 restrictions, Suzanne Schmidt and Andrew Sturgess got married in Bakerview Park last weekend, with the only guests being their two daughters, Zoey (foreground) and Tessa. (Darren Ripka photo)
From New Zealand to Bakerview Park, B.C. couple weds in ‘backyard’

Twice scaled-down wedding ‘proof that good things still happen during bad times’

Police in Nanaimo are looking for a suspect who wore a black-and-white striped hoodie and rode a yellow mountain bike when he allegedly stole three children’s backpacks from a daycare facility. (Photo submitted)
VIDEO: Thief steals children’s backpacks from daycare in Nanaimo

Suspect rode a yellow mountain bike and made off with backpacks hanging on fence

Arthur Topham has been sentenced to one month of house arrest and three years of probation after breaching the terms of his probation. Topham was convicted of promoting hate against Jewish people in 2015. (Photo submitted)
Quesnel man convicted for anti-Semitic website sentenced to house arrest for probation breach

Arthur Topham was convicted of breaching probation following his 2017 sentence for promoting hatred

Langley School District's board office. (Langley Advance Times files)
‘Sick Out’ aims to pressure B.C. schools over masks, class sizes

Parents from Langley and Surrey are worried about COVID safety in classrooms

The Klahoose First Nation village on Cortes Island is under lockdown until further notice due to a positive COVID-19 test. Photo courtesy Kevin Peacey.
Cortes Island First Nation community locked down due to positive COVID-19 test

Klahoose First Nation has had one positive test, one other potential case

Most Read