100 years ago, Madam Anna Guérin took a flower and turned it into one of the most recognizable symbols in Canada. Inspired by John McCrae’s poem “In Flanders Fields,” Guérin began to distribute the Poppy on Armistice Day as a way to raise money for Veterans’ needs as well as a symbol to remember those who had lost their lives during the First World War.
The tradition of wearing a Poppy lapel pin continues in 2021 and for Royal Canadian Legion Branch 445 Callander, that tradition gets a digital upgrade this year.
“As part of an ongoing pilot project launched in 2020, the Legion’s Pay Tribute Poppy boxes will allow Canadians to donate $2, $5 or $10 with a simple tap of either a payment card (credit or debit), or a payment app on their smart device,” says Branch President Marc Picard
“We’re very fortunate to be a part of this, this is the first year anyone in northern Ontario is getting to use a tap tribute box as there were only a limited amount of them available in past years. We’re very happy that we were sent one to use.”
Picard says they will also have donation boxes that vendors let them put in their stores.
“We have such a fantastic community and a fantastic community of support here. I think that’s what makes us do so well in this area. Every little bit helps.”
In addition to donation boxes in local stores, tag days are scheduled for East Ferris, Bonfield, and Callander on Saturday, October 30th as well as Saturday, November 6.
“We’ve made a couple of little changes due to COVID-19. What we used to do was a “tag day” at multiple locations in those three municipalities, in addition to a door-to-door campaign in Callander. Last year we switched that out to doing two tag days and that was very successful,” says Picard.
The National Poppy Campaign will officially begin on Friday, October 29th.
The presentation of the first poppy and raising of the poppy flag will take place at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 445 Callander on Friday, October 29th at 1 pm.
The presentation will be made by Picard and Poppy Chair Bill Bowman; joining them will be Veterans, members of the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 445 Callander as well as representatives of the Municipality of Callander, Municipality of East Ferris and the Township of Bonfield.
“The biggest importance of our Poppy Campaign is that all the money stays local and it is only used to support Veterans in our area, which includes
Picard says running this campaign does rely on volunteer efforts.
“Volunteers are very hard to get, especially during COVID, the struggle has increased a little bit to be able to get people to come out to volunteer. We’re actually pretty fortunate to have some great veterans and some amazing volunteers in our area who come out every year to make sure this thing can happen.”
He says ever since he joined the Legion eight years ago, it has been his personal goal to introduce younger people to the Legion.
“Our membership is getting quite old. There are not many World War II veterans left but we’re fortunate in this area that we have 135 Veterans at our branch as well as their families and their friends who join and they make sure that all veterans, regardless of whether they were World War II or Afghanistan or Peacekeeping, they all equally get our support,” says Picard.
“There’s no possible way that we could run a Legion with only veterans as members. The support that we get from those family members and the friends is so important and they are very invested in the Legion because they are supporting their loved ones.”
Picard says they would also like to see more veterans from recent conflicts join their branch.
“It’s a new day and a new age and a lot of younger veterans don’t want to join a Legion. They don’t see themselves as veterans when you equate it to World War II and things like that, they just don’t see themselves in the same breath as someone who fought in that war or the Korean War and I think that’s something that has to change,” he says.
“I think that anybody who has served in the military today has made a significant sacrifice and they should be a part of an organization like this that will be there to support them.”
On November 11th, the Callander Legion Pipes and Drums, The Colour Party, as well as members of the Legion will parade along Veterans Way to the Callander Cenotaph for services at 11 am.
Donors will also be able to donate directly through Legion’s national website. Close to 20 million dollars is donated during the National Poppy Campaign each year and goes directly into initiatives to support Canada’s Veterans. The 2021 Digital Poppy will remain part of the overall campaign. By visiting www.mypoppy.ca people will be able to donate to receive a digital poppy which can then be shared with friends and family through social media.
Legion Remembrance programs commemorate the men and women who died in the military service of Canada during war and peace. Maintaining the tradition of remembrance is a sacred trust and the Legion's most important role. The poppy has been widely recognized as a symbol of remembrance since it was first adopted in 1921. By wearing the poppy, we demonstrate our gratitude to those who gave their lives for the freedom we enjoy.
*With files from 2021 Poppy Campaign, Callander Legion, Branch 445 Media Release
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