Poppy-wearing newcomers challenge now-fired Don Cherry's immigrant rant

Calgary newcomers who proudly wear poppies at this time every year say the claims that now mark the end of Don Cherry's career weren't true.

It took less than a minute to find immigrants wearing poppies around Calgary

Immigrants living in Calgary from places like India and Mexico say Don Cherry’s comment that newcomers don’t wear poppies doesn’t reflect their own experiences. They say they feel strongly about honouring veterans and respecting Canadian values. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

Calgary newcomers who proudly wear poppies at this time every year say the claim that now marks the end of Don Cherry's career wasn't true.

Cherry has been fired from Hockey Night in Canada and Sportsnet for saying during a broadcast that recent immigrants to Canada don't wear poppies, and suggesting they therefore don't support veterans.

It took less than a minute to find an immigrant sporting a poppy in northeast Calgary on a quiet Remembrance Day morning at the Genesis Centre, a community hub in the city's diverse northeast.

"Because I am living in Canada," replied Maninderjit Singh Judge, when asked why he chooses to wear a poppy.

Maninderjit Singh Judge says wearing a poppy is about following protocols in the country you live in, no matter where you come from. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

"For the respect, I have to follow the things in the country. I wear it every year … it doesn't matter where you come from but right now we're living in Canada so you have to respect that. My opinion is that everybody has to wear that," said Singh, keeping warm in a toque with the word Canada emblazoned around it.

Some said wearing a poppy is about honouring sacrifices others have made.

Rodrigo Suarez came to Calgary from Mexico 11 years ago and says wearing a poppy is important to remember and honour veterans. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

"I've been reading about it and it's very important to Canada," said Mexican immigrant, Rodrigo Suarez.

"Every single person who was in the wars they are helping liberty, freedom, and that's super important and that's why we need to respect the veterans," Suarez said.

"I've been living here for 11 years and I love Canada. I feel so proud to be living here," he said.

"We don't even realize what they lived through and we need to respect and honour them," said Suarez, talking about those who served.

Azim Esmail says he wears a poppy every year and attends veterans' mass. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

"I wear it every year," said Azim Esmail. "I even go for veterans' mass."

Esmail said he sees plenty of poppies in his community. 

"I think he is ignorant to tell you the truth," said Esmail speaking about Don Cherry.

"It's really difficult coming from him. I'm pretty sure people are hurt but you turn the page and move on," he said.

Other immigrants said Cherry was entitled to his opinion, however offensive that might be.

Lucky Dhaliwal says he wears his poppy with pride to honour those who gave their lives so Canadians can enjoy their freedom. He says he sees many immigrants who choose to wear a poppy. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

"I wear a poppy because it's remembering all those soldiers who've given their life for us," said Lucky Dhaliwal.

"We are enjoying our freedom and I feel very proud to wear a poppy," he said. "I feel it, I wear it."

Dhaliwal said it's a personal choice that should be respected. 

"It's his own opinion," he said, on Cherry's rant. "We all have a different opinion, don't make it a big deal. For me it's nothing. Don't make a big deal, we're Canadians"

Bradwell Ramirez says all Canadians should wear a poppy for Remembrance Day. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

"It represents the ones that died for us," said 21-year-old Bradwell Ramirez, the youngest person interviewed. "The ones that protect this country for us."

Ramirez said he feels all Canadians should wear poppies.

"All of the immigrants, everyone that lives in Canada," he said.


Dan McGarvey


Dan McGarvey is a mobile journalist focused on filing stories remotely for CBC Calgary’s web, radio, TV and social media platforms, using only an iPhone and mobile tech. His work is used by mobile journalism (mojo) trainers and educators around the world. Dan is focused on the city’s diverse northeast quadrant and sharing stories from under-reported communities. You can email story ideas and tips to Dan at