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Royal Canadian Legion warns of 'dramatic increase' in unauthorized sites selling poppy merchandise


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, communications manager for the Royal Canadian Legion, told CTV's Your Morning that the legion sees a rise in unauthorized poppy merchandise circulating online every year as Remembrance Day nears. However, this year, she says the legion has been alerted to "500 plus cases."

"Last year, for example, we knew of about 50. So we find out about these through research that we do, people contact us tell us about it, and once these things are out there, they're very hard to track [and] very hard to shut down," Bond said Wednesday.

Bond said these websites are predominantly located overseas or in the United States, with some in Canada, and mostly appear through ads on Facebook and other online platforms, offering 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, also they might think that they're buying products that are going to be supporting veterans, and that just simply is not the case," Bond said.

While the legion has registered its trademarks with the Canada Border Services Agency through the Request for Assistance program, the program doesn’t always catch every infringing item that comes across the border.

Bond said the legion works to contact these websites and social media platforms to take the advertisements and items down, but that can be difficult given the number of unauthorized sites out there.

Despite this, Bond says the best way to fight unauthorized sellers is through education, so Canadians know that the only website authorized to distribute poppy merchandise in Canada is Canadians can also obtain poppies and purchase other items directly from their local legion branch.

"Sometimes we do approve outside products, but you need to check with your local branch or your provincial command or nationally to make sure that the product that you're buying is legitimate," Bond said.

Every year, the Royal Canadian Legion conducts the Poppy Campaign, along with thousands of members who volunteer across Canada to raise funds in support of veterans and their families. Poppies are distributed freely, but donations are welcome.

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

This year, the poppy marks 100 years as a symbol of remembrance in Canada. Bond said the legion is marking the event in a number of ways, including a commemorative coin from the Royal Canadian Mint, a new stamp issued by Canada Post, and a reproduction of the original poppy pin, which was first made in cloth in 1921.

Anna Guerin of France is credited with having first proposed 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 was inspired by John McCrae's poem "In Flanders Fields" and presented the idea of wearing a poppy on Armistice Day to the legion in July 1921 as a way to raise money for veterans' needs and to remember those who had given their lives.

"100 years later, we have the symbol [and] it still resonates very deeply," Bond said. Top Stories

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