A team of students and professors at Fanshawe College in London, Ont., have started a special Poppy Project for this year’s Remembrance month.
To keep poppies worn until Remembrance Day out of the landfill, the team has created a sustainable poppy to honour veterans while also helping the environment.
Unlike traditional plastic poppies, they’re created using construction paper infused with oriental poppy seeds. People can plant these seeds in their gardens after November 11, to then germinate and bloom as flowers in the spring.
“Instead of having plastic, we have something that will decompose and create flowers in the spring,” project coordinator Wendy Sperry told CBC News.
The project is designed to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Remembrance poppy in Canada, along with the 1915 poem In Flanders Fields by Canadian Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae.
‘History is really important’
Sperry, a professor at the School of Design at Fanshawe College, has been working on the formulas for the poppies for more than 6 months.
She says the poppies aren’t only focused on the wars, but also symbolize remembrance, veterans and Canada’s involvement.
Sperry and her team have created kits for 30 schools in the Thames Valley District School Board and some Montessori Schools to educate students about the impact of the World Wars and why they’re important.
The kits include materials to make the poppies. Each is labelled a ‘top secret mission,’ meant to create an interactive activity for kids while also sparking their interest in the poppy’s origins. More than 500 kits have gone out to the schools.
“I think history is really important, that we understand the sacrifices that have been made,” said Sperry. “The first World War was supposed to be a war that ended all wars…and obviously that hasn’t happened, so the youth should be aware of the history and what these wars were about.”
Poppies as a symbol of hope and remembrance
The project has received support from different faculties in the College, as well as the greater London community, including the Royal Canadian Legion, who have all donated funds and items to bring this project to life.
Brian Harris, the Provincial Poppy Chairman of the Royal Canadian Legion, thinks this is a terrific way to involve the youth in learning about significance of the the poppy.
“The best way to get the younger grades involved is a hands-on approach, and this poppy project at Fanshawe does exactly that,” said Harris. “Not only do they get to create their own poppy, but during that process, they learn the history of the poppy and what it stands for.”
Sperry’s goal is for others to view the flowers that grow in their yards as a symbol of hope and remembrance.
Fanshawe College is hosting an exhibition with the poppies all week long. It includes 20 student-made poppies that are being auctioned, as well as the seed poppies that are available by donation.