Joely Big-Eagle Kequahtooway began selling beaded poppies at her store, Tatanka Boutique in 2013. This came after people began to notice the ones her niece made for the rest of the family.
“People saw them and liked them so we started to make a few extra to sell out of the boutique here,” she said. She explained that people wanted to wear beaded poppies to remember First Nation’s veterans who faced unique challenges following World War Two. They had to give up their Treaty Status to enlist and didn’t receive the same veteran’s benefits as other Canadians.
The Remembrance Day poppy is trademarked by the Royal Canadian legion. They say it’s okay to wear the beaded poppy, but not if a profit is involved.
“If someone is promoting and making money off of that we would take offence to that and take them to task,” said former president of the Legion’s Regina Branch, Terrance Duncan.
Big Eagle-Kequahtooway was unfamiliar with the trademark. She said she will be taking the steps necessary to make things right with the Legion.
“If there’s something we need to do to ensure that we can have the beaded poppies available for the public (we will) because we’ve been approached by indigenous people and non-indigenous people to have the poppies,” she explained.
One of the province’s notable people who wears a beaded poppy in addition to the regular one is Lieutenant Governor Vaugh Solomon Schofield.
“To me it’s a tribute to our Aboriginal veterans who were forgotten for a great length of time, but are now well recognized,” she said.
Ten per cent of the proceeds from the sale of beaded poppies at Tatanka Boutique are donated to the Saskatchewan First Nation’s Veterans Association.