Royal Canadian Legion warns of unauthorized poppy vendors

TORONTO – The Royal Canadian Legion says it has seen a “dramatic increase” this year in the number of overseas websites selling unauthorized merchandise using depictions of the poppy.

Nujma Bond, director of communications for the Royal Canadian Legion, told Your Morning on CTV that the legion sees an increase in unauthorized poppy merchandise circulating online each year as Remembrance Day approaches. However, this year, she says the Legion has been alerted to “over 500 cases”.

“Last year, for example, we knew about 50 of them. So we learn from the research that we do, people contact us tell us about it, and once these things are available, they are very difficult to follow. [and] very difficult to close, ”Bond said Wednesday.

Bond said these websites are primarily located overseas or in the United States, with some in Canada, and appear primarily through ads on Facebook and other online platforms, featuring clothing, accessories, flags. and pins that claim to support veterans.

However, Bond said these unauthorized sellers are not affiliated with the Royal Canadian Legion and are likely pocketing the money.

“People might think that they are buying products through the Royal Canadian Legion or products that we have approved, they might also think that they are buying products that will support veterans, and this is just not the case, ”Bond said. noted.

Although the Legion has registered its trademarks with the Canada Border Services Agency as part of the Request for Assistance program, the program does not always detect all counterfeit items that cross the border.

Bond said the Legion makes an effort to contact these websites and social media platforms to remove ads and material, but this can be difficult given the number of unauthorized sites.

Despite this, Bond says the best way to fight unauthorized sellers is through education, so Canadians know that the only website licensed to distribute poppy products in Canada is poppystore.ca. Canadians can also source poppies and other items directly from their local Legion branch.

“Sometimes we approve outside products, but you need to check with your local branch or your provincial or national leadership to make sure the product you are purchasing is legitimate,” Bond said.

Each year, The Royal Canadian Legion leads the Poppy Campaign, with thousands of members volunteering across Canada to raise funds to benefit veterans and their families. Poppies are distributed free of charge, but donations are welcome.

Bond said Canadians donate an average of $ 20 million each year to the Poppy Campaign. She said the money went to a variety of programs and supports for veterans, including emergency funding through local branches of the Legion, as well as medical aid and support programs by pairs.

This year, the poppy celebrates 100 years as a symbol of remembrance in Canada. Bond said the Legion marked the event in a number of ways, including a commemorative Royal Canadian Mint coin, a new stamp issued by Canada Post and a reproduction of the original poppy pin, which was made for the first time in fabric in 1921.

Anna Guérin of France is credited with first proposing the poppy as a symbol of the costs and sacrifices of soldiers in the aftermath of the First World War.

According to the Royal Canadian Legion, Guerin took inspiration from John McCrae’s poem “In Flanders Fields” and introduced the idea of ​​wearing a poppy on Armistice Day to the Legion in July 1921 as a way to raise funds. for the needs of veterans who had given their lives.

“100 years later we have the symbol [and] it still resonates very deeply, ”Bond said.

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