This year, 2021, marks the 100-year anniversary of the poppy campaign in Canada.
Poppies are most often associated with John McCrae’s poem “In Flanders Fields.” McCrae, a Canadian Medical Officer during the First World War, penned the poem on a scrap of paper following the death of a fellow soldier. To this day, the poem is still read at Remembrance Day ceremonies across Canada and in other parts of the world.
According to the Royal Canadian Legion, Anna Guérin of France is credited with making the poppy a memorial flower. Inspired by McCrae’s poem, she sold poppies made of paper and red fabric to raise funds for the war-torn regions of France. She presented her concept to the Great War Veterans Association of Canada, and the poppy was adopted as a symbol of remembrance in 1921.
Today, 100 years later, donations collected during the poppy fundraising campaign are used to support various Legion programs for veterans, including grants for emergency food and shelter and medical and dental costs.
In Port Alberni, the poppy campaign looks a little different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Poppy boxes are still in businesses throughout the Alberni Valley, but in-person tables staffed by Legion members are limited.
Only poppies are being offered for a donation. Anyone wanting pins or other memorial items can purchase them through the Royal Canadian Legion Br. 293 during normal hours (Tuesday to Saturday, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.).