New Brunswick — A recent Statistics Canada survey found that 78 percent of New Brunswickers aged 18 to 34 wear the traditional red poppy pin during the week leading up to Remembrance Day. The pin’s greater meaning as a tribute to those fallen in combat is not lost on the province’s young adults, but the majority (94 percent) report wearing the poppy for a simpler reason: they don’t want to be shouted at in public by grumpy senior citizens.
Moncton paralegal Ashleigh March, 26, recalls the horror of forgetting to wear a poppy pin during a trip to Champlain Place Mall on Nov. 8.
“I needed a gift for Secret Santa at work, so I took a quick trip to the mall on my lunch break to grab something at the novelty gift stalls outside Sears. Usually, I have my poppy pin on whenever I go out this time of year, but was in a hurry and forgot it,” March says.
“I had just started browsing, when dozens of seniors started pouring out of Sears, wagging their fingers and calling me an ungrateful whippersnapper. It was like Dawn of the Dead, but slower and grouchier,” she adds, shuddering. “I may never shop in the daytime ever again.”
Others report being glowered at in convenience stores, harangued on the street and scolded at work.
“I was taking garbage out to the dumpster in my pajamas and wasn’t wearing a poppy, when a minivan pulled up and a bunch of old dudes piled out hollering about how I have no respect for the troops and spend too much time on my cellular telephone,” said Woodstock resident Jim Comstock, 32. “I served two tours in Afghanistan, WTF?”
Mount Allison University sociology professor Jobriath Fauntleroy said the trend highlights a growing demographic concern in the province.
“More young people are leaving New Brunswick for work, fewer babies are being born and the number of people aged 65 and older is exploding,” he said. “By 2020, there’s a very real possibility that the province’s seniors will face a critical shortage of twenty-somethings to angrily confront and publicly shame — not only in early November, but the rest of the year as well.”
Fauntleroy recommends that the province set aside a week in February in which residents carry a live raccoon everywhere and a week in June where people are required to do the Hokey Pokey to complete every retail purchase to make up for the deficit.
The Gallant administration has launched a task force, a task force oversight committee and 3 committee task oversight forces to probe the issue further.