Trendy grocery chain Whole Foods received backlash after attempting to ban staff from wearing poppies to remember the war dead in Canada.
Poppies, which became a symbol of the fallen after they sprang up across the torn battlefields of France and Belgium in the wake of the First World War, have been sold in much of the former British Empire to raise money for military charities around Armistice Day for over a hundred years.
But U.S.-headquartered Whole Foods attempted to ban employees from wearing the symbols of remembrance this year, reportedly on grounds that they amount to “supporting a cause”.
“I was basically told… if they allowed this one particular cause, then it would open up the door so that they would have to allow or consider allowing other causes,” a whistleblower told the CBC — the Canadian public broadcaster roughly equivalent to Britain’s BBC.
“I was in shock actually. I was appalled. I couldn’t believe it,” they added.
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The move was widely condemned after it gained traction in the media, however, with the government Veterans Minister personally intervening and the conservative premier of the province of Ontario, Doug Ford, announcing he would introduce legislation providing workers with an absolute right to wear the poppy, and that “no employer can force someone not to wear a poppy.”
Whole Foods ultimately reversed its decision, pleading that “Our intention was never to single out the poppy or to suggest a lack of support for Remembrance Day and the heroes who have bravely served their country” in a public statement.
“Given the learnings of today, we are welcoming team members to wear the poppy pin,” the company wheedled.
This year’s remembrance commemorations are difficult for many veterans and forces families, with many countries drastically curtailing if not outright prohibiting many traditional ceremonies due to anti-coronavirus lockdown measures.
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