by: Leila Castro
Inspired by a post in social media about a community who came together and made a massive poppy blanket in honour of the soldiers who fought in the second world war, Sheilah Restall initiated the Poppy Blanket Project for Winnipeg. City Councillor for Old Kildonan Devi Sharma was the first to respond to Sheilah’s call for support to her project. Devi organized the poppy attaching parties where community members can meet and have fun working together to complete the huge blanket.
Among those invited for the poppy attaching parties was 204 Neighbourhood Watch. For two consecutive Tuesdays (October 8 and 15), volunteers of the group went to Garden City to help build the blanket. To Cielo Sarmento, the experience of attaching poppies to the blanket was unforgettable. Cielo is an active volunteer of 204 Neigbourhood Watch and of Saint James Deer Lodge Neighbourhood Watch. “In the past, when I go to a store and find these flowers, I just buy one so I will have something to wear for the Remembrance Day just like everybody else. I knew what it was for, but it was a shallow appreciation of its meaning. Today when I joined the poppy attaching party, I felt that deep appreciation and gratitude to the veterans who fought in the war and whose sacrifices shaped a very important part of Canada’s history.“
Toto Sarmento is the founder of Saint James Deerlodge Neighbourhood Watch, a partner organization of 204 Neighbourhood Watch. Toto said that in the past, whenever he sees a poppy, he remembers the sacrifices made by the veterans. “These were soldiers who fought hard in the war, there were those who survived and those who did not make it.
They are the reason why Canada is what it is now – a free, peaceful and beautiful country enjoyed by all of us including immigrants. While contributing my time and effort to building the blanket, it felt good that I was with a circle of people who were also at that time attaching poppies and appreciating the significance of what we were doing. It was a great community of people around me, a fun and meaningful way to spend time with the other members of the community.”
The finished poppy blanket will be unveiled for Remembrance Day 2019. More donations of knitted poppy flowers are needed. You will find the information about specifications and drop off points at the website www.poppyblanket.ca. There will be poppy attaching parties in the coming weeks: October 22nd and 29th, 6:30pm-8:30pm at Garden City Shopping Centre – Center Court.