Should Prison Labourers be Making Poppies for the Legion?

On November 11th, Canadians across the country will take a moment to pause and remember the thousands of men and women who have sacrificed their lives in military service. Most will wear a poppy to show their respect for the fallen.

Every year the Royal Canadian Legion launches its annual poppy program to raise funds to help veterans and their families. For the 2014 Remembrance Day, prison inmates in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba will be responsible for assembling the poppies, combining the red flower, black center, and bent steel pin (“Prison inmates to make Remembrance Day poppies“, CBC News, 27 October 2013).

The unions representing the corrections officers have raised concern over the inmates having access to metal pins which are used to hold the poppies together. The unions are hoping to address the security threat that the small pins pose as it presents a potential weapon that can easily be concealed and later used against guards and other inmates. Apart from security, there are questions over what types of “valuable skills” the inmates will be in fact gaining from the assembling of the poppy pins.

The Legion believes that the employment of inmates to assemble the poppies contributes to their rehabilitation:

“As Canada’s largest veterans and community support organization, the legion recognizes that rehabilitation programs help assist yet another part of our communities,” Scott Ferris, the legion’s director of marketing and membership, said in an email. “The legion cannot turn its back on these individuals. Helping Canadians in all communities is at the heart of the legion’s mission.”

Do you agree with prison inmates participating in the assembly of Remembrance Day poppies? Please feel free to leave your comments below.

Photo credit: Benoit Aubry

Tags: Canadian Forces, Corrections, Red Poppies, Remembrance Day, Royal Canadian Legion