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White poppy campaign misguided and poorly timed

Photo courtesy of Staffs Live (CC)

Amidst a Rob Ford crack cocaine admission and the suspension of three Canadian senators, a group in Ottawa caused a stir last week with nothing more than the colour of their poppies.

A group of students at the University of Ottawa, part of an advocacy group called the Rideau Institute, capitalized on the publicity of Remembrance Day to sell white poppy pins instead of the traditional red ones. (See News, p.5)

Using the slogan, “I remember for peace,” this group distributed their poppies on the days leading to Nov. 11, urging others to support their belief that Canadians should be celebrating peace, not war, on Remembrance Day.

This group has angered many people, including students like myself who feel they are being lumped together with this small group after Sun News published an article with the headline, “Ottawa students don’t care if ‘white poppy’ offends vets.”

The red poppy, which is already a symbol for peace in the eyes of many Canadians, should be the only flower worn on your chest to commemorate our fallen soldiers.

Celyn Dufay, one of the group’s organizers, has been the recipient of deserved criticism after stating, “Young people don’t want to celebrate war, we want to work for peace.”

But Nov. 11 isn’t, and never has been, about celebrating or glorifying war. The day is for remembering Canadian soldiers who sacrificed their lives and died in battle; many of whom were no older than most of our student population.

If the Rideau Institute wanted to be taken seriously, choosing this time of year to start a campaign for peace was an awful idea. It’s insulting and disrespectful to veterans who deserve to be remembered.

This group’s offensive campaign shows they are more concerned with seeking attention rather than peace.

On Remembrance Day at 11 a.m., while standing by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Confederation Square, thousands of people didn’t gather in support of war. They bowed their heads and took a moment of silence to remember the sacrifices that Canadians—family, friends, or strangers—have made and continue to make for our country.