Returning to the city that launched his career, all-time Brandon Wheat Kings great and the first Inuk athlete to play in the NHL, Jordin Tootoo announced his retirement from the league.
The 35-year old Indigenous trailblazer from Rankin Inlet played four seasons in Brandon, making an immediate impact both on and off the ice.
“When I came to Brandon in 1999, I didn’t think of myself as an Indigenous role model, I was just a hockey player that would fight with everything I had to make the NHL,” said Jordin.
“This community embraced me and looked beyond my background and just judged me for how I played the game. And it’s pretty special and symbolic to come full circle and be back here to announce that I have retired from the NHL.”
On the ice, “Toots” lived up to his Inuk middle name Kudluk, meaning "thunder." He played with speed, aggression and physical determination that made him a fan favourite in the WHL and the NHL.
Chosen by Nashville in the fourth round (98 overall) in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, Jordin went on to play thirteen seasons in the NHL, with the Predators, Detroit Red Wings, New Jersey Devils and Chicago Blackhawks and had 161 points, including 65 goals in 723 career games.
While he was a force on the ice, he was also one of the most respected players off of it, becoming a role model for Indigenous youth across Canada. It's taken him a while to fully appreciate and to understand the significance of what he means to so many people.
“Still to this day, it was kind of an unbelievable experience and I’m hoping that I can pave the way for future indigenous kids coming up,” said Tootoo, who grew up in Nunavut, 200 miles south of the Arctic Circle.
“I look back and I reflect on my hockey career and the opportunities it’s given me away from the game,” he goes on to say. “Personally, I didn’t think it would go this far but I am grateful for everything that’s been put in front of me – it’s been a tremendous ride.”
Today, as a husband and father of two beautiful girls, Sienna and Avery, Jordin has committed to his work with Canada's Indigenous communities and to build the Team Tootoo Foundation that he began in memoriam for his brother Terence who was lost to suicide in 2002.
“It’s part of Canada that a lot of people struggle with mental health and addiction, suicide, these issues are a national epidemic. I feel that, at this point in my life, it’s my calling to give back to a lot of these remote communities,” added Tootoo.