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#TBT: Jordin Tootoo becomes the first Inuk player in the NHL

Jordin Tootoo has come a long way from skating and stickhandling on rinks in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut.

In 2001 Tootoo became the first Inuk athlete to be drafted to the NHL. His first game was in 2003 playing right wing for the Nashville Predators. He later joined the Detroit Red Wings and New Jersey Devils, and now plays for the Chicago Blackhawks.  

Tootoo’s older brother Terence also played the game, and had a successful career in junior hockey. But he committed suicide in in 2002, at the age of 22, after being arrested for drunk driving. Tootoo dedicated the 2003-2004 season to his brother and played with Terence’s name stencilled on his hockey sticks.

Tootoo has become a role model for youth in Nunavut, and takes this job seriously. Beyond his success in hockey, he speaks about his heritage and striving for goals.

He also voluntarily entered in-patient care as part of the NHL/NHL Players’ Association Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program in late 2010 to deal with substance abuse issues, perhaps encouraging anyone from his home community dealing with similar issues to seek help.

In 2016 he appeared in an anti-violence PSA for a campaign run by the RCMP.

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