Leilani Vanderydt and mom, Debbie, at the family’s business, Greenhawk Equestrian Sport, where visitors can get a purple poppy in exchange for a donation. Money raised will go to the Royal Canadian Legion and Animal Aid. Photograph By Christopher Foulds

Purple poppies to remember animals of war

An eight-year-old girl from Kamloops is selling poppies, worn to remembers animals of war

-Kamloops this Week

The red poppy is known the world over. But the purple poppy?

“It means for the animals, so we remember the animals,” said eight-year-old Leilani Vanderydt. “A couple of years ago, I was wondering why we don’t remember the animals.”

With help from mom Debbie and dad Kevin, she did some research and discovered the purple poppy is worn to honour animals in wars.

RELATED: First World War letters put a human face on the war that shaped us as a nation

Last year, Leilani wore a paper purple poppy she made. This year, she acquired the real thing — ordering 100 purple poppies from Australia, where the Australia War Memorial Animal Organisation boasts a plethora of items honouring animals in combat.

However, rather than stick pins through the purple poppies, as is done with the familiar red versions, Leilani’s poppies can be tied to a dog’s leash or to a cat’s collar.

She is selling them at her parents’ Valleyview store, Greenhawk Equestrian Sport, each day this week after school.

Visitors to the shop at Oriole and Falcon roads (in the strip mall that houses The Office pub and Falcon Lanes bowling) can find Leilani from about 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., sitting at her creatively decorated table.

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The purple poppies can be had for donations, with money raised going to the Royal Canadian Legion and Animal Aid.

Leilani lives on a farm and has a horse, dogs, cats, chickens and goats — so her love for animals comes naturally.

Her mom said most of the family’s animals are rescue animals.

“Remembrance Day has always been important to us and it’s something we have always followed carefully,” Debbie said.

“She always wondered about the animals because we see in pictures horses pulling machinery, there’s horses being ridden, there’s dogs and even cats down in the mess halls. My brother would talk about how they kept the mice out.”

DID YOU KNOW?

According to Britain’s Animals in War Memorial Fund, eight-million horses died in the First World War, as did countless mules and donkeys. They were used to transport ammunition and supplies to the front line.

The fund also notes pigeons, dogs, elephants, camels, oxen, bullocks, cats, canaries and even glow worms were used in combat.

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