This Remembrance Day there will be another colour of poppy worn over the hearts of many who want to raise awareness and recognize the animal victims of war.
Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada candidate Jordan Reichert says that the purple poppy recognizes that animals forced into and caught in the middle of our wars are not heroes and that their participation should not be celebrated, instead he says they are unwilling victims.
“I don’t think anyone wants to go to war, but there may be times when people are forced or compelled to do so. No non-human animal makes the choice to participate in our wars, it is a terrifying place and they don’t understand what they are being used for. It is shameful.”
According to Animal Aid UK who make the purple poppies, upwards of 16 million animals were used and died during World War I. Millions more were used during World War II, not to mention 750,000 domestic animals killed by their caretakers in Britain at the start of the war because of an expected shortage of rations. Thousands of animals are still used in war today and for weapons experimentation.
In Canada, animals were also used in the World Wars and sent overseas. Famously, a female bear named Winnipeg or “winnie” would be sent to London as a war mascot and instead of being put at the front lines was put in the London Zoo. She would catch the attention of a young Christopher Robin and inspire the stories of Winnie the Pooh written by A.A. Milne.
However, Reichert says that while such stories may be used to make the idea of animals in war more palatable, there is no acceptable excuse for their participation.
“Keeping animals on chains or in cages and dragging them into these theatres of terror because we find it cute or inspiring is unconscionable. They are only seen as a means to an end and as soon as they lose their usefulness or become a burden they are killed. There is nothing heroic or honourable in that.”
There is now a dedication for animals in war in Ottawa’s Confederation Park near the Boer War monument and there is a memorial in Hyde Park, London to recognize their contribution to the war effort.
Jordan has organized to make the purple poppies available by donation at the Bosley’s in the Harris Green Plaza starting Saturday the 7th.
He will also be distributing them Saturday from 12noon-2pm outside of the Market on Yates.
You can find out more about Jordan’s work at www.jordanreichert.ca