ABSTRACT

In 1973, the Government of the Northwest Territories produced a comic book for the Inuit community, Captain Al Cohol, featuring a blond-haired “muscular man of might” from the Planet Barkelda who crashes to earth in a remote village named Fish Fiord and saves its grateful inhabitants from the scourge of alcoholism.1 Typifying the Canadian government’s long history of racist paternalism in relation to Aboriginal peoples, this superhero comic’s construction of the Aboriginal subject as childlike and in need of protection-contained within a booklet distributed for free-is overt. Yet the storyline’s reliance on quite uncomplicated notions of passivity is disrupted by the numerous government advertisements sprinkled liberally throughout its pages, the most intriguing of which are explicitly directed at youth. One of these ads depicts a smiling Inuit boy in a ball cap who stands poised ready to hit a ball in order to publicize government recreation grants that will “enable people in northern communities to relieve boredom and monotony”; another, featuring two happy Inuit adolescents holding up fi stfuls of money, invites contestants to enter an essay contest on “how you think the Northwest Territories should be developed”; another seeks to persuade Inuit youth to become Junior Tourist Promotion Offi cers by offering free, offi cial, wallet-size cards, posters, and booster buttons if they “join in on the fun” today.2 In Captain Al Cohol, young Inuit subjects are not constructed simply as accepting or fi tting into wider national interests but as being active in the service of the same-even at the expense of their own.