The Poppy Project continues to grow in New Westminster

A blanket created for Remembrance Day is growing bigger by the year.

Two years ago, a group of local knitters began knitting, crocheting and felting poppies for a blanket that could be displayed in New Westminster for Remembrance Day. The blanket has grown to include about 1,000 poppies.

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“It was 600 last year, so now it has almost doubled,” said Reena Meijer Drees, who helped spearhead the initiative. “Last year it was bigger than a twin, now it’s going to be like king-size.”

The idea behind the Poppy Project is to create a large art installation that honours all Canadians who have experienced the horrors of war.

“It’s about the thought process,” Meijer Drees said about making the poppies. “It’s something that’s made by hand. It’s not a machine that pumps out poppies. It’s somebody who sits down and spends 15 minutes to do this. That’s a statement in itself.”

Like last year, community members will have a chance to view the blanket at a couple of venues, where it will be part of a display leading up to and following Remembrance Day. The military display will see the blanket placed on a cot, with a soldier’s boots and jacket placed nearby.

Community members can view the blanket at River Market (near the food court) until Nov. 11 and at the Queensborough Community Centre lobby from Nov. 12 to 19. It’s also being taken out on a couple of brief excursions – it was at the No Stone Left Alone poppy-laying ceremony at the Fraser Cemetery on Nov. 5 and will be at the Remembrance Day service at the Armoury on Sunday, Nov. 11.

In October, community members attended wet-felting sessions where they made poppies for the blanket.

“It’s been amazing,” Meijer Drees said. “We got the giant gift of wool – that has really enabled us to go out into the community and connect with people who don’t knit or crochet and can make a poppy. We had a couple sessions at Century House. We were able to line up two public sessions, one at the Anvil Centre and one at River Market.”

Meijer Drees is pleased with the way the project has grown, and invites knitters and crocheters to contribute poppies to the project year round and drop then off at Cosy Yarns in River Market.

“This year we also had little kits. Those were quite popular. We would provide a little Ziploc bag with a pattern, a little bit or red yarn and a little bit of black yarn, and our business card. They were left in a basket by the display at Century House. People could take one, and hopefully we get that back in the form of a poppy. When you send stuff into the wild, you can’t tell what is going to happen,” Meijer Drees said. “Hopefully we will be able to do more of that during the course of the year, making up kits. It’s about public engagement.”

The Poppy Project received a grant through the Neighbourhood Small Grants – New Westminster, which it will use to buy military items for its display. Last year, the Poppy Project borrowed items from the Royal Westminster Regiment.

“With our grant money we are going to be purchasing our own military kit because we don’t like the risk of taking precious items out of the Armoury museum. We are just going to go out and buy a camp cot and a couple army boots and a jacket,” Meijer Drees said. “It’s not super important that it’s old. It just has to look military.”

More information on the Poppy Project can be found at www.thepoppyproject.ca.

 

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