On November 11th, 2019 the fifth annual Animal Victims of War (AVoW) ceremony took place in Victoria, B.C. The event was organized by Animal Alliance of Canada representative and Animal Protection Party of Canada Deputy Leader, Jordan Reichert, who started the event in 2015 after learning of the purple poppy campaign started in the UK by Animal Aid UK. Jordan has now created his own purple poppy for distribution and is working to hold ceremonies across Canada. You can read his blog post about why it is important to recognize the animal victims of war here.
Why did we bring the purple poppy campaign to Canada?
We brought the AVoW purple poppy campaign to Canada to ensure that the tens of millions of animal lives lost to war are recognized as victims and not heroes. In World War I, 8 million horses and another 8 million other animals were killed. That is one for every two human soldiers killed. This number also does not include all the wildlife that would have died and not been accounted for. Animals continue to be used in war for transport, experimentation, reconnaissance, and other activities.
Why are animals not heroes?
It is important that as we consider the loss of animal life in war that we do not recognize animals as “heroes” of war. It is tempting to anthropomorphize their actions as acts of bravery or courage, but they had no choice in being there and had no comprehension of what they were being used for. Humans can make a conscious decision to partake in war and we fully recognize that many soldiers were forced into war themselves. Animals cannot ever consciously decide to engage or abstain from war. They are thrust into it and have no control over how they will be used or when. They are victims and it important we condemn their use in war as part of our opposition to the suffering and violence caused by war itself.
The Purple Poppy
The purple poppy campaign is an complimentary or alternative poppy to the red poppy of the Royal Canadian Legion. It is not meant in any way to undermine or reject the red poppy and its symbolism of the human lives who served and died in war. It is a way for people to recognize the significant loss of animal life that is not represented in symbol or ceremony of the red poppy. It also makes an important distinction between animals as “heroes,” which is sometimes perpetrated by military culture, and animal as “victims.” Ideally, we will someday see the purple poppy be as synonymous with Remembrance Day as the red poppy, but in its own context.
How can I get a purple poppy?
We are working on developing the purple poppy campaign across Canada, so that we may build a culture and society that opposes animal use in war and counters narratives of them as “heroes.” This page will be updated once we have everything in place for you to order a poppy and connect with local communities across Canada holding events.