Vol. 78, No. 1News notes

Hockey players in a rink.

NHL star, RCMP score with anti-violence ad

Jordin Tootoo, the first Inuk player in the NHL, is drawing on his life to inspire the next generation of Aboriginal boys and girls. Credit: RCMP


Jordin Tootoo, a hockey player for the National Hockey League's New Jersey Devils, arrives at the Fort MacKay arena in Alberta for his shoot with the RCMP, and he's a bit nervous.

"I'm not good at memorizing stuff," he says.

Although he's used to cameras, being a spokesperson on a public service announcement (PSA) is new territory for Tootoo.

But the topic, violence against Aboriginal women, is an issue he understands. Growing up in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, Tootoo knows all too well some of the problems experienced in a small, remote community.

After breezing through the script, Tootoo spends some time on the ice with a group of star-struck Aboriginal youth.

A young hockey player from an abusive home, Tootoo overcame the odds — and his own personal demons — to become the first Inuk player in the NHL. He's now sharing that story in his new book, All the Way: My Life on Ice, a hard-hitting account of his struggles, including alcoholism and the suicide of his brother.

"I've been through some tough stuff, but I've learned a lot from it all," says Tootoo. "It feels good now to do something for my community, and the other communities that are struggling with issues like domestic violence."

In the video message, Tootoo speaks directly to men and boys, urging them to break the cycle of domestic violence. The health and safety of Aboriginal girls and women have become a priority for the force, and the PSA is one of several awareness initiatives the RCMP is undertaking.

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