The Royal Canadian Legion’s Poppy Campaign officially starts on October 30. All the money raised assists Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Veterans and their families. (Above) 4th Canadian Division Support Group Commander Colonel (Col) John Vass (right), 4 CDSG Formation Sergeant Major Chief Warrant Officer (CWO) Jack Durnford (left), and Town of Petawawa Mayor Bob Sweet (second from left) make a donation and receive a poppy from Royal Canadian Legion Branch 517 Petawawa President Ralph Kendrick (second from right) at the Petawawa Cenotaph on Oct. 20. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)
Legion Poppy Campaign launches on October 30
By Patricia Leboeuf
Posted on Thursday October 22, 2020
The Royal Canadian Legion’s annual Poppy Campaign will start on Oct. 30, following the tradition of launching it on the last Friday in October.
As the time grows nearer to Remembrance Day, these quintessential symbols remind people of the sacrifices that Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) personnel have, and continue to make in service to their country. The annual Poppy Campaign is the largest fundraiser for the Legion, with funds going directly to the care of veterans of the CAF, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and their families.
4th Canadian Division Support Group (4 CDSG) Commander Colonel (Col) John Vass and 4 CDSG Formation Sergeant Major Chief Warrant Officer Jack Durnford visited the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 517 on Oct. 20 to make a donation and receive the first poppies of the season. Petawawa Mayor Bob Sweet, who was eager for the yearly campaign to begin, joined them.
“It is important that we continue to be present in our communities, and honour our past,” said Col Vass. “I encourage all members of the Defence Team to demonstrate your support by wearing a poppy.”
Though the Nov. 11 ceremony will not be as large as in preceding years, it will still be held at the Petawawa Cenotaph.
Only 100 people will be allowed on the grounds. Nonetheless, the Legion cannot control those who wish to watch from the street and sidewalks.
People who purchased a wreath will see it pre-laid or can lay it after the ceremony once people have dispersed. The lounge will also be open for festivities but will be strict on the number of people allowed in.
“In light of COVID-19, support to Veterans Week activities across our region and country will look a little different this year,” said Col Vass. “Veterans Week activities, like many other events, are being impacted by the pandemic. This year the scope and conduct of Remembrance Day will be reduced.
“However, Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members may attend and participate in ceremonies as long as Public Health Measures (PHMs) are respected. If not feasible, we encourage members to virtually attend your community events if feasible or watch the National Remembrance Day ceremony via Facebook Live.”
Significance of the poppy for remembrance has been in place since the Napoleonic Wars in the 19th century.
It was introduced to Canada after Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae penned the famous “In Flanders Fields” poem in 1915.
The poppy was officially adopted by the Legion’s predecessor in 1921 and has evolved to become a symbol that every Canadian recognizes.
“The Poppy Campaign has always been there for our veterans,” said Helene Hahn, the 2020 Royal Canadian Legion Branch 517 Petawawa Poppy Campaign Chair. “And it all goes to their welfare.”
This is achieved through critical programs and initiatives for a range of issues like homelessness, food insecurity, operational stress injury and the application process for receiving government benefits. Donated funds also support veteran’s families and communities, and help promote Remembrance.
“All that money is put in a trust,” said Hahn. “It can’t be used for anything but for veterans.”
On a national scale, about 20 million poppies are distributed. But with the ongoing pandemic, things will look different this year.
Boxes filled with poppy, pins and bracelets will still be in place at local shops, grocery stores and at the units at Garrison Petawawa, but volunteers will take precautions to keep themselves, and donors, safe.
“We are still going to be canvassing businesses and hoping to get donations,” said Hahn, “but it’s been very hard to get everybody together to plan things. Things are very different this year.”
For more information on the Poppy Campaign, please visit www.legion.ca.