At the back of the legislature on Monday, a small group will gather to recognize the animal victims of war, often overlooked by traditional Remembrance Day events.
Jordan Reichert, who plans the annual event, said the ceremony is intended to spread awareness of the millions of animals that have died in warfare and to condemn the use of animals in war.
Reichert said it’s problematic to refer to animals as heroes or sacrifices of war, because it glorifies their role and implies the animals had a choice.
“They have no interest in the politics of the world that caused these wars. They can’t comprehend what humans threw them into,” he said.
Those attending the fifth annual event are encouraged to wear a purple poppy, a symbol started by U.K. animal rights group Animal Aid to recognize animal victims of war.
Canada has used mules and horses to transport materials and troops; carrier pigeons to deliver messages; and dogs as messengers, medical assistants, bomb detectors and search and rescue workers.
Reichert said the event is not intended to disregard the millions of human lives lost in war, but to raise awareness about the impact of war on animals.
He would like to see a memorial established in Victoria recognizing animal victims.
Reichert said Ottawa’s animal memorial doesn’t do justice to the significance of how many animals lives have been lost, and instead depicts a canine looking ready to serve. The memorial consists of a medical service dog standing guard over three bronze plaques that show animals in war and detail the roles they played. The footprints of dogs, horses and mules are imprinted in the concrete of the memorial.
He points to a memorial in London, England, as one to aspire to. London’s memorial features two mules carrying heavy loads on their back, heads bent down. They’re walking toward a small gap in a curved wall.
Having seen it in person a few years ago, Reichert said the memorial appropriately captures the burden placed on animals used in war.
Monday’s ceremony takes place behind the legislature building, at the fountain surrounded with animal statues, and starts at 10:30 a.m.