A former NHL player’s plea to end the cycle of suicide

Jordin Tootoo was the first Inuit player in the NHL and was in Slave Lake April 7 presenting motivational speeches, including the one above by Lesser Slave Lake Indian Regional Council.

Pearl Lorentzen
For South Peace News

“Each and every one of you have your own story,” Jordin Tootoo told Indigenous youth April 7 in Slave Lake.
Telling these stories to each other is important for building community, he added.
Tootoo was the first Inuit player in the NHL and was in Slave Lake for at least two speaking engagements. The first was virtual to Northern Lakes College students April 6. A news release says he spoke on “inclusivity, resilience, and the importance of teamwork in both the workplace and social communities.”
On April 7, Tootoo was one of the speakers at Ahkameyimok: Empowering Indigenous Youth. The two-day event was put on by the Lesser Slave Lake Indian Regional Council. Driftpile Cree Nation, Kapawe’no First Nation, Sawridge First Nation, and Sucker Creek First Nation sponsored the event.
Tootoo to spoke about ending the cycle of suicide.
“I grew up in a house where nothing was said,” he said.
Tootoo started his story by telling about his older bother, Terence Tootoo’s suicide.
Growing up, neither Jordin or Terence talked about their emotions. Both were hockey players. Terence hoped to be the first Inuit hockey player in the NHL. He was close. He was team captain and working part-time to support his parents and Jordin. At 22, he had a tryout lined up in the American Hockey League. The last night of his life Jordin and Terence had supper, then closed down a bar. After Terence dropped Jordin off, he was pulled over for drunk driving.
His dream was shattered, said Jordin.
That night, Terence killed himself.
When Jordin wrote his first book, it was to heal, he said. It was not to point fingers. It took a lot of courage for him to ask his parents about their lives.
“Suicide is an epidemic,” Jordin said.
Ever Indigenous person he has met has been impacted by suicide in some way.
“The cycle must stop,” he said.
Jordin’s speech was one of several over the two-day event. Another was Lakeshore Regional Police on gaming and cyberbullying. Another was a panel on life skills and challenges. Other activities included a round dance and some team building.

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