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

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
41 positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

Cases have gone up in Northern Health in the past week, as they have all over B.C. (K-J Millar/Black Press Media)
Northern Health reports new highest number of COVID-19 cases in one day

Nineteen cases were reported to Public Health last Tuesday (Nov. 17)

FILE – British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry wears a face mask as she views the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Masks now mandatory in all public indoor and retail spaces in B.C.

Many retailers and businesses had voiced their frustration with a lack of mask mandate before

(Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared Thursday.
COVID-19 outbreak at LNG Canada Project site

14 employees have tested positive for COVID-19 at this time

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Top doctor urges Canadians to limit gatherings as ‘deeply concerning’ outbreaks continue

Canada’s active cases currently stand at 63,835, compared to 53,907 a week prior

A Canadian Pacific freight train travels around Morant’s Curve near Lake Louise, Alta., on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths along the railway tracks in Banff and Yoho national parks in Alberta and British Columbia has found that train speed is one of the biggest factors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

Research concludes effective mitigation could address train speed and ability of wildlife to see trains

A airport worker is pictured at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave

This ban is separate from the one restricting non-essential U.S. travel

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A man walks by a COVID-19 test pod at the Vancouver airport in this undated handout photo. A study has launched to investigate the safest and most efficient way to rapidly test for COVID-19 in people taking off from the Vancouver airport. The airport authority says the study that got underway Friday at WestJet’s domestic check-in area is the first of its kind in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Vancouver Airport Authority *MANDATORY CREDIT*
COVID-19 rapid test study launches at Vancouver airport for departing passengers

Airport authority says that a positive rapid test result does not constitute a medical diagnosis for COVID-19

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

Most Read