Eagle-eyed viewers of this year's Remembrance Day ceremony in Ottawa may have noticed a small but significant difference this year compared to the commemorations of the past.
The wreaths laid at the National War Memorial on Sunday were predominantly adorned with white, rather than the commonly seen red flowers.
They're meant to resemble the white wreaths used in the first post-First World War commemorations in 1919, CBC reported during their coverage of the ceremony in Ottawa. This year's ceremonies mark 100 years since the War's end, or armistice, on Nov. 11, 1918.
While visually similar, the gesture has nothing to do with a growing white poppy movement. White poppies are rarely worn in Canada for Remembrance Day, and have a different symbolic meaning, representing pacifism and non-violent conflict resolution. They have existed as this symbol since at least 1933. The Canadian Canadian Voice of Women for Peace also encourages people to wear them to remember the civilian casualties of war alongside the military.
"It is to express our commitment to work for peace, which would protect the lives of people in the future whether they are in the military or civilians. What we want is a peaceful future," co-chair Lyn Adamson told Global News. She also said she encouraged people to wear both red and white poppies.
While the legion in the U.K. says they can be worn with or instead of red poppies, the Royal Canadian Legion has looked upon them less favourably.
"To denigrate a symbol of the remembrance of people who died for this country certainly is emotional, Jim Ross, president of the Legion's P.E.I. provincial command told CBC News in 2010, after the Island Peace Committee started distributing white poppies.
The red poppy became a symbol of remembrance in Canada a few years after Ontarian John McCrae wrote about them in his famous poem, "In Flanders Fields," in 1915.
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