What Colour Should a Poppy Be?
By Camila Molero
Happy Remembrance Day!
As every Canadian knows, Remembrance Day is a memorial day to remember the fallen soldiers who have died for our country and those who have served, and those who are actively serving since the start of the First World War.
The main symbol of this memorial day is the red poppy which people wear proudly on their shirts, coats, and/or sweaters. We all know that the poppy is originated from the iconic poem by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, "In Flanders Fields", which was inspired by the sight of poppy flowers after his close friend died in Ypres. However, lately there has been a controversy regarding a certain variation of the famous red poppy.
During the early weeks of November, there was a controversy regarding a “rainbow” poppy, which many people were not happy about. The poppy in question was a sparkling rainbow pin. There is also another design, which includes the traditional red colour of the poppy and features a rainbow on part of the flower. The latter of the two poppies, was designed by LGBTQ+ poet Laureate Trudy Howson in 2016. Many people spoke out about how they felt it was disrespectful to veterans who had died for this country. They argued that the LGBTQ+ community has a whole month dedicated to their diversity, so why can’t our veterans have just one day without the LGBTQ+ community being brought into it? They also believe that the LGBTQ+ community is “being shoved down [their] throats” and complain that “gays just want attention”. In contrast, the opposition argues that the “rainbow” poppy commemorates the LGBTQ+ community soldiers who were unjustly killed or discharged for their sexual orientation or identity. They also argue that there are different types of poppies to commemorate different communities that fought in the wars.
Apart from the “rainbow” poppies, there are four other types of poppies. There are the red ones that everyone is familiar with; representing a general memorial of WWI and following conflicts. There are black poppies commemorating the Caribbean, Black, and African communities’ war effort and sacrifice. There are white poppies that symbolize two things: first, the civilians who were victim to the war, and second, those who died to end the war as they feel the red poppies glorify war. Finally, there are purple poppies to commemorate the animals who were victims of the wars.
The tweet that started it all was from Cyara Bird, a former Conservative Representative from Manitoba. Bird tweeted about her seventeen year-old cousin who allegedly got suspended from her school for “hate speech”, because she refused to wear a “rainbow” poppy. This sparked an outrage on social media. However, Bird’s story is not entirely the truth. Her cousin’s refusal to wear a “rainbow” poppy is actually false. In reality, during an interview with CityNews students revealed that, “no one was forced to wear rainbow poppies, and that students were suspended because of a poster they hung up around the school protesting rainbow poppies, which bordered on hate speech.”
Quotes listed on a photo below show some of what was on the posters that Bird’s cousin took issue with. Moreover, another discrepancy in these stories are the true origins of the “rainbow” poppy.
An article by CoventryLive on this matter revealed that the infamous rainbow poppies were sold on ebay titled “RAINBOW GLITTERY POPPY STYLED BADGE”. The article pointed out that it never mentioned it was an LGBTQ+ pin, “Nowhere did the product listing state it had any link to the LGBT+ community, and it seems that it had no other intention other than to be ‘rainbow and glittery.’”
Naomi de Souza, the journalist who wrote the article, claimed to have messaged the seller who revealed that all the funds go to charity. The seller was forced to close down the item due to heavy backlash and abusive comments made about the “rainbow” poppy. The article ended by stating that there is no link between the “rainbow” poppies and the LGBTQ+ community.
Comment your thoughts and opinions on whether there should be different coloured poppies to represent the different minorities. Should there be one poppy to encompass all the were affected?
“All about the poppy.” Royal British Legion, https://www.britishlegion.org.uk/get-
involved/remembrance/about-remembrance/the-poppy. Accessed 8 Nov. 2019
De Souza, Naomi. “Rainbow Poppies: The truth behind the online controversy.” CoventryLive, 8 Nov. 2019, https://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/coventry-news/lgbt-
rainbow-poppy-17210285. Accessed 8 Nov. 2019
Macmahon, Neufeld, et al. “Upset about the rainbow poppy? You’ve been duped by fake news.” CityNews, 8 Nov. 2019, https://www.citynews1130.com/2019/11/08/upset-about-the-
rainbow-poppy-you’ve-been-duped-by-fake-news/. Accessed 8 Nov. 2019
“Poppy Appeal: What do the different coloured poppies mean?” BBC, 7 Nov. 2019, https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/45975344. Accessed 8 Nov. 2019
Slatz, Anna. “EXCLUSIVE: Girl suspended for rejecting rainbow poppy speaks out.” The Post Millennial, Nov 6. 2019, https://www.thepostmillennial.com/exclusive-girl-suspended-
for-rejecting-rainbow-poppy-speaks-out/. Accessed 8 Nov. 2019