Royal Canadian Legion upset over white poppies

Thursday, November 9, 2006

The Royal Canadian Legion are upset over the distribution of white poppies at a store in Edmonton, Alberta. Veterans in Canada sell red poppies to remember the soldiers that fought in War which is now called Remembrance Day.

Michael Kalmanovitch, owner of The Earth's General Store, who has been selling white poppies for the past three years, says the white poppies symbolize the hope for peace.

A veteran at the Royal Canadian Legion says that white poppies are an insult and may infringe on the legion's trademark.

"If he, Kalmanovitch [the owner] doesn't, then we will proceed with further legal action," said Steven Clark, Ottawa-based remembrance co-ordinator who oversees the poppy trademark for the Legion.

A British organization called the Peace Pledge Union in London, England started the distribution of white poppies in 1993, and over the years the idea has been sold to Canada. The white poppy is a symbol of opposition to the war and they also pay tribute to the pain of those who have lost someone in war.

Mr. Kalmanovitch says that he won't cease white poppy sales until he's officially been notified by the Peace Pledge Union, a British organization that took over from the Women's Co-Operative Guild to distribute the white poppies worldwide.

Marya Nyland, who belongs to Women in Black, an international peace organization, which has been distributing the white poppies across Canada for the last 11 years, said, "Peace is free. You never buy peace."

"It's offensive and it's disturbing that this white poppy would appear at this time of year," he said. "To me, the white poppy is an insult to the veterans. The Women in Black organization, I think, are piggybacking on the sacred time of the year," said Harvey Shevalier, president of the Legion's Alberta-Northwest Territories Command.


Peace activists are advised to focus their efforts on September 21, UN-sanctioned International Day of Peace. However, white poppies would still infringe on the Legion's trademark even if they change the date to Sept. 21.

The poppies are CAN$2 apiece and sell quickly. Two-hundred of them sold on Monday and the store has ordered more, according to Mr. Kalmanovitch, the store owner.

About 12,000 white poppies are distributed each November in Canada.