Lieutenant Governor Janet Austin
(Lieutenant Governor Janet Austin, at podium, accepts the first poppy/Twitter)

The Royal Canadian Legion kicked off its annual Poppy Campaign this week with a series of small ceremonies ahead of a Remembrance Day that will be unlike any other.

B.C.’s Lieutenant Governor Janet Austin was presented with the symbolic first poppy on Wednesday, marking the start of the Royal Canadian Legion BC/Yukon Command’s 2020 Poppy Campaign.

The small ceremony at the Government House was restricted to a small number of people in keeping with COVID-19 guidelines, which will also be in place for Remembrance Day events.

The National Remembrance Day ceremony on November 11 will be broadcast on Facebook Live this year and on television, while events in Greater Victoria also seek to go virtual.

Oak Bay’s cenotaph ceremony will be livestreamed on a yet-to-be-announced platform, and the Sooke Legion will also livestream a Remembrance Day ceremony through their Facebook page.

Other municipalities, such as Metchosin, have cancelled their events and are encouraging supporters to tune into the National Remembrance Day ceremony instead.

The Legion says this is the first time they have had to discourage people from participating in in-person Remembrance Day events.

They are also altering the annual Poppy campaign to allow different forms of payment. A partnership with HSBC has allowed the Legion to offer tap-enabled donation boxes, and people can also donate through the Legion’s national website.

“We want to be at the forefront of new technologies and provide several options for donors, given that fewer people are carrying cash and we remain in the midst of a pandemic,” said Dominion President Thomas D. Irvine in a statement.

Nearly 20 million dollars is raised through the National Poppy Campaign each year, with funds directly sent to veteran supports and programs.

Programs help prevent homelessness, food insecurity, operational stress injury, and also aid veterans in accessing government benefits.