Sign up for our newsletter and get a curated list of the top trending stories and exclusive rewards every day.

Trending Topics

Get the MTL Blog app

Download on the App StoreGet it on Google Play

To Some People In Canada, The Remembrance Day Red Poppy Is An Offensive Symbol

Here's why.
Senior Editor
To Some People In Canada, The Remembrance Day Red Poppy Is An Offensive Symbol

Remembrance Day is just around the corner.

This November 11th carries special significance. The date will mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

ALSO READ: Trudeau Is So Unbelievably Popular Right Now That It Looks Like He'll Be Prime Minister Of Canada For At Least 5 More Years

TL;DR Some people reject the poppy because, they claim, it glorifies war. Some veterans also point out that the symbol has altered from its original message. Still other veterans condemn such thinking and ask Canadians to distinguish between state decisions and individual soldiers.

Across the Commonwealth Nations, it will be a day to commemorate members of armed forces who have died in the line of duty since 1914.

The most visible marker of Remembrance day, of course, is the red poppy that Commonwealth citizens affix to their lapels to signify their participation. 

But the poppy is also a point of contention. While it is widely understood as a symbol of respect, some activists reject it for what they call its glorification of conflict. Some veterans, too, object to the red poppy symbol.

Groups on the left boycott the poppy for its "flowery" depiction of war. They claim that the poppy celebrates armed conflict and serves to erase resulting civilian deaths and displacement. That's why some have adopted the white poppy as an alternative, more inclusive symbol of peace.

Many veterans further claim that the red poppy has deviated from its original message. Over time, they say, the flower has become a way to justify war and silence dissenters.

There is a difference, some assert, between the wars at the beginning of the 20th century, in which Commonwealth Nations fought against fascism and unthinkable atrocity, and the wars of aggression today, which can sometimes seem unjustifiable.

Harry Leslie Smith, a Commonwealth citizen, is probably the most famous veteran to reject the poppy.

Via Harry Leslie Smith

Other veterans have come out to strongly condemn such thinking.

In an opinion piece that came out this week in The Star, Canadian veteran William Ray recounts his own wartime traumas and asks readers to distinguish between state actors and individual soldiers. The "human beings who gave their lives," he writes, "did so in the obviously good faith belief that somehow their sacrifice could move humanity forward."

The red poppies will, of course, persist as a Remembrance Day tradition. But perhaps everyone in this debate can agree that it is important for Canadians to think critically about what the flower means before pinning it to their coats.

More from MTL Blog

Comments 💬

Our comment section is a place to promote self-expression, freedom of speech and positivity. We encourage discussion and debate, but our pages must remain a safe space where everyone feels comfortable and the environment is respectful.

In order to make this possible, we monitor comments to keep spam, hate speech, violence, and vulgarity off our pages. Comments are moderated according to our Community Guidelines.

Please note that Narcity Media does not endorse the opinions expressed in the comment section of an article. Narcity Media has the right to remove comments, ban or suspend any user without notice, or close a story’s comment section at any time.

First and last names will appear with each comment and the use of pseudonyms is prohibited. By commenting, you acknowledge that Narcity Media has the right to use & distribute your content across our properties.