Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Q51: How do Doukhobors view Remembrance Day?

From: Jonathan J. Kalmakoff, Regina, Saskatchewan

As you know, we are once again approaching Remembrance Day (also known as Poppy Day or Armistice Day), November 11th, where millions of people across Canada and the Commonwealth wear poppies to remember the members of their armed forces who have died in the line of duty. As a Doukhobor and pacifist, I have always felt conflicted about wearing a poppy at this time. On one hand, I believe we should remind ourselves of the millions upon millions of war casualties who have died needlessly through the senseless brutality of war. On the other hand, I do not want my remembrance of this sad fact to be misconstrued or misassociated with the celebration or glorification of war. Perhaps this is a question you can address as part of your blog. How have Doukhobors, traditionally, approached Remembrance Day? And in your personal opinion, how ought we to?


I agree that war is not something to celebrate. Armistice Day was originaly intented to remember the end of World War I in 1918. There are many alternatives for Doukhobors.

Instead of red poppies, many Canadians now wear white poppies. Some add peace button pins with the white poppies. Some wear a slogan button: 'November 11: I Remember for Peace.' The Canadian Mennonite Central Committee sells white buttons: 'to remember is to work for peace.'

As people of conscience, Doukhobors can continue their heritage of working for peace. Our goal is to create a nonkillng society with a culture of peace ethic. Speaking to your friends and neighbours about this will help as will writing letters to the editor. In schools, we can write essays on alternative ways to celebrate the real intent of Remembrance Day. Produce a Doukhobor alternative peace button for Remembrance Day. For example, a line from Lev N. Tolstoy: 'war is a slavery of our times.'

In the larger scheme of things, we are called to love our neighbours as ourselves. Here, then, is an opportunity to help outlaw war as a crime against humanity. The power of love is in our grasp.

Readers of conscience, please speak up!!! And use your imagination to get your message to the world.

Because the comment section below does not permit links, McKay's comment was moved here and edited with links.


Ian McKay 12 November 2012

Dear Friends,

On Remembrance Day I gave a talk on What's Wrong With Flanders Fields (MP3, 67 min.), in which I explain that Remembrance Day and the poem In Flanders Fields have been conscripted as part of the right-wing militarization of Canadian society.

Please, feel free to link to my MP3 file. Add that it was delivered at the Queen's University Institute for Lifelong Learning (QUILL), Kingston, Ontario, on Remembrance Day, November 2012.

Best wishes, Ian McKay

Also see my July review of McKay's book with Jamie Swift: Canada: a Warrior or Peaceful Nation?

More: Questions and Answers, Comments


  1. Dear Koozma - thank you for posting your personal views and opinions regarding the wearing of poppies during Remembrance Day. I especially like the concept of the White Poppies. However, to my original question, could you also please advise on how Doukhobors have historically dealt with this dilemna in Canada? I don't know if there is any information documented on this subject. Thanks. Jon

  2. To avoid any misconception, the best thing is NOT to participate - simply do NOT wear them.

  3. My Doukhobor husband has worn a (red) poppy during Veterans' Week and on Remembrance Day since he was a teenager in the late 1960s. He doesn't believe that doing so is in any way a "celebration or glorification of war". Wearing a poppy is a way of remembering the *end* of war and the *return* of peace.