Remembrance Day: Poppies have not been without controversy over the last few years

On Nov. 11, many Canadians commemorate Remembrance Day, which honours "those who gave their lives to serve our country," according to the Royal Canadian Legion.

The Canadian non-profit notes the poppy, a red herbaceous plant, as a "powerful symbol of Remembrance." From the last Friday in October to Remembrance Day, the poppy is worn on the left side of one's chest as a visual pledge never to forget those who served and sacrificed.

However, wearing the poppy — or not — has caused controversy in the last few years.

Whole Foods bans poppies on employee uniforms

In 2020, Whole Foods, a grocery retailer with 14 locations across Canada, told employees they would be banned from wearing poppies per their new policy.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford called the policy "disgusting and disgraceful." Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called it a "silly mistake" on the company's part. Then-Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole said, "the sacrifice of Canadians in the past provides the freedom for a U.S. grocery chain to be stupid today."

A few hours after announcing the new uniform policy and receiving widely spread backlash, Whole Foods reversed the ban.

Don Cherry fired after anti-immigrant poppy rant

In 2019, Don Cherry, Hockey Night in Canada's former commentator, ranted over new immigrants not wearing poppies during a broadcast.

"At least you can pay a couple bucks for a poppy," he said.

"You people... you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey, at least you can pay a couple bucks for a poppy or something like that," he continued. "These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada, these guys paid the biggest price."

Canadians criticized his remarks and called for Cherry's resignation shortly after.

A few days after the broadcast, Cherry was fired. In a statement, the Sportsnet network said, "it is the right time for him to immediately step down."

"During the broadcast, he made divisive remarks that do not represent our values or what we stand for," a statement from Sportsnet president Bart Yabsley read.

Air Canada Bans Employees from wearing poppies - for a few hours.

In 2016, Air Canada issued a memo from its vice president to all employees that it is "strongly encouraged" to not wear poppies on duty.

That same day, the memo was leaked: "I strongly encourage anyone who wants to wear a poppy ... to do so when not in uniform," it said.

A few hours after the memo's release and after staunch employee feedback, the vice president reconsidered and confirmed that wearing the Poppy during work hours is "supported."

In a statement to the National Post, the Canadian airline said, "while we do have regulations on non-service pins to maintain a consistent uniform look, we have clarified for our in-flight crews that they can wear a poppy in uniform and do so proudly."