In 2011, more than 11,000 Canadians wore a white poppy on Remembrance Day to emphasize their desire for peace.
They joined a long tradition which grew from the same historical context as the red poppy, but which has a different emphasis (see history below).
Some ordered their white poppies ready-made from Vancouver Peace Poppies (click here), or from Le Collectif Échec à la Guerre – Campagne du coquelicot blanc (click here). Others made their own white poppies. (On our website we offer various downloadable versions of the white poppy, and show how to make them rainproof: Click here to see choices before downloading.)
The history of white poppy began in Britain:
1926 – The idea of pacifists making their own poppies (with a different emphasis than the red poppy) was put forward by a member of the No More War Movement. The idea was that the black centre of the British Legion’s red poppies should be imprinted with “No More War.” They felt that those words were relatively more important than the words “Haig Fund” which had been on the red poppy since 1921. Their intention was to remember casualties of all wars, with the added meaning of a hope for the end of all wars. They felt that the red poppy signified only the British military dead, leaving out civilians, etc. However they did not pursue the idea.
1933 – The first white poppies were sold by the Co-operative Women’s Guild (Britain)
1934 – The Peace Pledge Union (Britain) began to take part in the distribution of the white poppy, and still does today.
Since its beginnings in the Britain, the “white poppy movement” has spread to more nations, including Canada, as the below links demonstrate:
Vancouver Peace Poppies (Distributes white poppies ready-made.)
Le Collectif Échec à la Guerre – Campagne du coquelicot blanc – (A french website in Quebec that distributes white poppies ready-made.)
Besides Vancouver, Quebec and Ottawa, the white poppy movement can be found in many other parts of Canada, also. For example, white poppies have been distributed in Edmonton at least as early as 2006.
In Britain, the historical “Peace Pledge Union,” is still active. Their website has a very interesting section on White Poppy topics: It includes analysis, and discussion points for adults and younger students. (Click here)
Back in Canada, in 2010, the Ottawa White Poppy Collective, along with the Raging Grannies, and other members of the peace community, lay two wreaths decorated with white poppies at the War Memorial in Ottawa on November 11. Here is a video of that event:
The above video contains the following notable quotes (4):
“It’s a comprehensive and a complex grief that we are wishing to
“We honour the struggle of all those who have suffered and continue
to suffer through wars that go on as we stand here.”
Notice the words “comprehensive,” and “all.”
The below photo is also from the 2010 the Ottawa White Poppy Collective: