Thunder Bay

Digital poppies 'potential to be success,' says Port Arthur Legion president

As this year's Remembrance Day marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, for the first time in history, the Royal Canadian Legion has introduced a virtual version of the iconic flower in hopes to capture the attention of young Canadians.

Digital poppies were released on October 26

On Friday, October 26 the Royal Canadian Legion introduced a virtual version of the poppy in hopes to attract younger Canadians.

As this year's Remembrance Day marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, for the first time in history, the Royal Canadian Legion has introduced a virtual version of the iconic flower in hopes to capture the attention of young Canadians.

"I believe we have to embrace the digital age," Port Arthur Legion Branch 5 president Dell Babcock said. "I think it's a good way to involve the younger Canadians throughout the country to participate in the poppy campaign."

The digital poppy, according to the deputy director at the Royal Canadian Legion, was an idea that came up a year ago when hockey commentator Don Cherry noticed the lack of pins in public.

"The digital poppy resembles the lapel poppy and its online for people that utilize their social media all the time," said  deputy director, Danny Martin. "The legion wanted to get out there and give the people the opportunity to engage in remembrance on the digital medium they use."

He said despite the 1400 legion branches in Canada, the "reach is still limited" especially in big cities as the legion does not have a branch in every community across the country.

Digital poppies can also be personalized and dedicated to family members, friends or loved ones, Martin added, which has received a lot of positive feedback.

"There's always this movement within Canada where people want to acknowledge that they are related to individuals who have sacrificed ... [but] there's no real way to demonstrate that," Martin said, adding that it is illegal for anyone to wear another individual's medals.

"So this is a way to actually donate or recognize the service of somebody that has done something for Canada."

He said one lady bought 20 digital poppies in order to acknowledge the 20 different people she knew who had sacrificed their life.

Too early to tell

According to the president of the Port Arthur Legion, the annual poppy campaign in the northwestern Ontario city has been "pretty consistent and the donations seem to increase every year."

The digital poppy was launched on Friday, October 29 at the same time the traditional poppies were available to the public.

Babcock said he believes that the new digital poppy will help attract younger Canadians across the country, however "time will tell how successful the effort is ... as there's limited information out there about it."

"It will certainly provide the opportunity to bring in some extra funds," Babcock said. "I think it will be a success. This is the way things are going now-a-days. People are doing things online [and] they are not doing it on paper anymore."

"It has a lot of potential to be a success."

To mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, Babcock said, church bells across Thunder Bay will be rung 100 times at dusk on November 11.

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