As Remembrance Day inches closer, we’re becoming more accustomed to seeing veterans and cadets selling poppies. The red flower is an iconic symbol of the tragedy and sacrifice of war and what our armed services do for our country.
But in Edmonton, someone might need a refresher lesson on what Remembrance Day means. Cadets hoping to sell poppies in front of a local Cabela’s store were turned away.
“The management of Cabela’s informed them that, no, they weren’t welcome there,” Greg Laskey, one of the men organizing the poppy drive in Edmonton, told The Edmonton Sun.
According to Laskey, a group of volunteers dispatched from the Royal Canadian Legion Kingsway Branch for the kick-off of the Poppy Fund Campaign were invited to offer Remembrance Day poppies at the Cabela’s store at 15320 37 Ave. by an employee, the father of one of the cadets.
When they arrived, management allegedly told the volunteers they had to leave, saying the employee didn’t have the authority to allow them on the premises.
Laskey was surprised at the reaction, saying the cadets are generally welcomed across the city and are accustomed to working with local retailers and shopping malls to ensure they don’t disrupt customers.
This is the only time that Laskey can recall a cadet group canvassing for the poppy fund being ejected from a site.
“Things like that, it kind of rubs you the wrong way,” said Laskey.
Cabela’s Retail Canada Inc. could not be reached for comment. The cadets were dispatched to a new location without incident.
Canadians have been wearing the bright red Remembrance Day poppies since 1921 as a visual reminder to never forget Canadians who have laid down their lives during military operations.
The Royal Canadian Legion’s Poppy Fund campaign distributes the poppy pins annually while collecting donations to provide assistance for ex-servicemen and women in need. Canadian cadet organizations offer programming to help create youth leaders with a focus on strong Canadian and military values, and are an integral part of the annual poppy campaign.
While this incident at Cabela’s was disappointing, said Laskey, it was also the first year cadets have been stationed at Rexall Place during an Oilers Game, where volunteers raised over $3,500 in bills and filled three full buckets of change yet to be counted.
“We did very well, and people commended us for what we were doing,” Laskey said.