Beaded poppies draw attention to aboriginal veterans
Royal Canadian Legion says poppy is trademarked symbol
The beaded poppy is the newest type of pin gracing jackets this Remembrance Day.
Supporters say beaded poppies honour all veterans, but also draw attention to the unique plight of aboriginal people who went to war.
"Aboriginal veterans did not receive the same rights and benefits as other veterans," said Karon Shmon, co-ordinator of publishing at the Gabriel Dumont Institute in Saskatoon. "So this is a way for the community, especially the Métis community, to say we always knew you were there and we honour the sacrifice that you made."
Shmon also noted that aboriginal veterans weren't allowed in the Legion until the 1970's, and had to give up their rights as status Indians in order to serve.
The supply of beaded poppies is limited, as they are produced by First Nations artisans. The Institute has distributed about 100 every year for the past six years, although Shmon said the poppies are ramping up in popularity.
She added that the money the organization collects this year will go towards a monument honouring Métis veterans, to be erected in Batoche, Sask.
Legion not in favour of beaded poppy
Bill Maxwell, who speaks for the Royal Canadian Legion's poppy and remembrance committee in Ottawa, said the poppy is trademarked.
"If the family wants to make their own for very personal reasons, of course," Maxwell said. "But you know when they start to manufacture them or commercialize them that becomes something very different."
But Schmon said the beaded version is not meant to replace the traditional poppy pin. She encourages people who wear the beaded poppy to also donate to the Legion's fund.