Thursday, January 08, 2009

Northern Conscription

In responding to the flood of comments I received in response to my Thaw Day post, I came up with an excellent new idea. Canada should have a mandatory one or two-year public service in the north, similar to the military conscription they have in Israel and many European countries. It could have a nominal military facade, such as "defending our arctic sovereignty" (otherwise known as throwing rocks at Finns while the Russians and Americans cruise back and forth between us in their subs and oil tankers), but most of the work would be of a more social and economic nature: teaching, building houses and community structures, maintaining infrastructures.

You would involve the leadership of the territories and the native communities at a very high level, so that their input would really drive the direction of things. There would be barracks and bases, but the conscripts would also spend a certain amount of time billeting with local families and dedicating a certain amount of time helping them with their daily work. This would give both sides an opportunity to get to know each other and create future connections (so if a kid from the North wanted to come to the big city and look for opportunities).

Most importantly, it would train our youth to learn to live and deal in a truly cold environment. This would occur when they are at their most stupid and lazy and annoying and instead of moping around all day or walking around with ripped jeans (like a character I saw today on the way to work; big holes in his now red knees, trying to look like he wasn't freezing his ass off), they would be working hard in a disciplined structure.

However, despite the denial of certain comforts, there would be a huge incentive for the conscripts. It would be a giant partying opportunity. It will be totally co-educational, of course and there would be facilities set up for hanging out. From what I hear, tons of hooking up goes on during the mandatory military services in other countries.

This would of course further cultural cross-pollination and provide great fodder for Canadian cinema. You can already see the star-crossed love between cute Jewish girl from Forest Hills who instead of spending two years at McGill talking on the cell phone goes to the north, learns how to work and live and meets a cute Inuit boy who is struggling against his situation. They fall in love, the families are against it (scenes of each visiting the other's family), laughter and tears ensue. We learn about the meaning of the North.

I got off track. The main social benefit would be generations of winter-trained youth, who would be more open to the idea of living outside the major metropolitan areas and who were ready to deal with a bit of snow. It would be a start on the road to Canadians actually living up to their reputation as being a winter people.

6 comments:

Lantzvillager said...

http://www.katimavik.org Yo!

Buzby said...

We could also integrate a pop culture element into the whole thing by starting MTV North or just having a show called Real World North.

I am all for the kind of effort you described. I've been to Israel a few times and I have to say that the level of talent in their programs is really really high.

Redwing said...

Set it up!

Create a non-profit!

Olman Feelyus said...

I think I should have emphasized how important it is that this be a mandatory, law-based program, where everyone has to do it, nay are forced to do it. I'm done with people volunteering. It's clear that most people are lazy and stupid. The ones who volunteer are the ones who least need the benefits of these kinds of programs as they are already motivated and socially-conscious.

No, I'm talking some fascism here, baby!

Anonymous said...

Je dois dire que je suis d'accord avec Olman Feelyus. Faut que ce soit obligatoire... et c'est là tout le problème ;)

Avec notre charte des droits et libertés trop forte et pas de "charte des devoirs", une société individualiste où les gens veulent se réaliser sans appartenir à la société, justement... bonne chance pour imposer un an de travaux communautaires aux jeunes...

mais quelle bonne idée..!

Olman Feelyus said...

J'aime cette idée, une "charte des devoirs". Bien fait! J'y penserai.