Canadian war veterans attack peace activists over white poppies

Canadian war veterans attack peace activists over white poppies

By staff writers
8 Nov 2006

Canadian war veterans attack peace activists over white poppies

-08/11/06

War veterans in Canada have launched an attack against peace activists, accusing them of hijackeding the poppy.

A store in Edmonton, Alberta, is distributing white poppies that the Royal Canadian Legion said is a "disturbing" and "illegal" infringement of the red poppies worn on lapels since just after World War One to commemorate those killed in battle.

A Legion official said that Remembrance Day on November 11 is the only time of year they ask citizens to wear the poppies to pay tribute to the 117,000 military personnel who have died in conflict.

"It's something symbolic, which encroaches on a registered trademark, for one thing," Legion spokesman Rod Stewart said of the "white poppies for peace."

"But it puts a political slant on the meaning of Remembrance Day and that's unacceptable in our eyes."

Peace campaigners however suggest that the red poppy has always been a highly political symbol.

White poppy distributor Michael Kalmanovitch, owner of Earth's General Store, pointed out that the version he's distributing was first produced in Britain soon after the red variety to symbolize hope that humanity would move beyond armed conflict to solve disputes.

The idea of an alternative poppy dates back to 1926. A member of the No More War Movement suggested that the British Legion should be asked to imprint 'No More War' in the centre of the red poppies and failing this pacifists should make their own flowers.

In 1933 the Co-operative Women's Guild produced the first white poppies to be worn on Armistice Day (later called Remembrance Day). The Guild stressed that the white poppy was not intended as an insult to those who died in the First World War - a war in which many of the women lost husbands, brothers, sons and lovers. However some women lost their jobs for wearing them.

Kalmanovitch said he ordered 200 white poppies from the Peace Pledge Union in London, which has been producing them since 1934. It it his third year of distributing them.

Legion officials have told him that poppies of any colour are their registered trademark and the alternative ones are illegal.

But Kalmanovitch said he has no intention to stop distributing the white symbols. He said he wears both versions, and does not consider the white ones to be discourteous to the Legion.

"We're not saying 'or', we're saying 'and'," Kalmanovitch said. "I do respect those people who went off and got hurt or killed in those wars ... but I hope we live in a society where everything can withstand criticism or examination."

War veterans in Canada have launched an attack against peace activists, accusing them of hijackeding the poppy.

A store in Edmonton, Alberta, is distributing white poppies that the Royal Canadian Legion said is a "disturbing" and "illegal" infringement of the red poppies worn on lapels since just after World War One to commemorate those killed in battle.

A Legion official said that Remembrance Day on November 11 is the only time of year they ask citizens to wear the poppies to pay tribute to the 117,000 military personnel who have died in conflict.

"It's something symbolic, which encroaches on a registered trademark, for one thing," Legion spokesman Rod Stewart said of the "white poppies for peace."

"But it puts a political slant on the meaning of Remembrance Day and that's unacceptable in our eyes."

Peace campaigners however suggest that the red poppy has always been a highly political symbol.

White poppy distributor Michael Kalmanovitch, owner of Earth's General Store, pointed out that the version he's distributing was first produced in Britain soon after the red variety to symbolize hope that humanity would move beyond armed conflict to solve disputes.

The idea of an alternative poppy dates back to 1926. A member of the No More War Movement suggested that the British Legion should be asked to imprint 'No More War' in the centre of the red poppies and failing this pacifists should make their own flowers.

In 1933 the Co-operative Women's Guild produced the first white poppies to be worn on Armistice Day (later called Remembrance Day). The Guild stressed that the white poppy was not intended as an insult to those who died in the First World War - a war in which many of the women lost husbands, brothers, sons and lovers. However some women lost their jobs for wearing them.

Kalmanovitch said he ordered 200 white poppies from the Peace Pledge Union in London, which has been producing them since 1934. It it his third year of distributing them.

Legion officials have told him that poppies of any colour are their registered trademark and the alternative ones are illegal.

But Kalmanovitch said he has no intention to stop distributing the white symbols. He said he wears both versions, and does not consider the white ones to be discourteous to the Legion.

"We're not saying 'or', we're saying 'and'," Kalmanovitch said. "I do respect those people who went off and got hurt or killed in those wars ... but I hope we live in a society where everything can withstand criticism or examination."

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