In one of his first ceremonial duties as mayor-elect, Ken Popove received Chilliwack’s first poppy as part of the national 2018 Poppy Campaign roll-out.
Nearly a century ago, the poppy was adopted as the Canadian symbol of remembrance to honour the members of our armed forces who lost their lives in the line of duty. And for almost as long, the Royal Canadian Legion has been giving away poppies in the early autumn to not only remind us of what’s been sacrificed for our freedoms, but to raise money for those who’ve sacrificed.
Beginning the last Friday of October, the annual Poppy Campaign runs until Remembrance Day and strives to raise funds to support Canadian Armed forces and the RCMP veterans and their families who may be in need through the Legion Poppy Fund.
“The money raised goes to help our local vets and their families,” said Doug Harrison, president of Branch 280 of the Royal Canadian Legion.
“We want to flood our communities with poppies,” he continued, “(because) everybody knows what season the poppy represents: it’s our season of remembrance. And even though we remember our fallen every day, now we bring the community into the fold so we all remember at the same time.”
So, on Oct. 23, in Ottawa, the very first poppy of the 2018 Campaign was pinned on Canada’s Governor General by the National Dominion Commander of the Royal Canadian Legion; on Oct. 24, Canada’s premiers were pinned with the provinces’ first poppies, and then on Oct. 25, the municipal leaders received theirs, all before the official launch on Oct. 26.
Also beginning on Oct. 26, for the first in the Campaign’s history, the poppy goes digital: until Nov. 11, Canadians will have the choice to complement their traditional label poppy with a customizable digital version available at MyPoppy.ca. And what’s more, funds from the digital campaign will be distributed to a Legion branch closest to the donor’s address, so the money still stays within the community.
And while the poppies are free, the Legion does ask for a donation for its Fund: from October 2016 to October 2017, the Royal Canadian Legion dispersed $16.7 million dollars in support of Canadian veterans and their families.
Traditionally, poppies are available through donation boxes at banks, retail stores, and even restaurants, but to find the poppy closest to you, Harrison says to contact the Legion closest to your residence.
How to wear a poppy:
- Worn on the left side, over the heart;
- Considered a sacred symbol of Remembrance and shouldn’t be affixed with any pin that obstructs it;
- Typically worn during the Remembrance period, which is from the last Friday in October until Nov. 11;
- As long as it’s done in a respectful manner, it’s not inappropriate to wear a poppy outside of the Remembrance period, however, many choose to remove their poppies at the end of their local Remembrance ceremonies and place them on the cenotaph or on a wreath.
To pay your respects to Canada’s fallen defenders locally, visit The Veteran’s Memorial Park downtown and All Sappers Memorial Cenotaph at Vedder Crossing on Nov. 11, at 10:30 a.m., for the local Remembrance Day ceremony. For more information about the Poppy Campaign, or the Royal Canadian Legion, please visit their website at Legion.ca.