Jordin Tootoo made history as the first Inuk player to be drafted by the NHL. Over his 13-year career, he played for the Nashville Predators, Detroit Red Wings, New Jersey Devils, and Chicago Blackhawks, banking 161 points, including 65 goals, in 723 career games.
A trailblazer both on and off the ice, Tootoo has since become a vocal mental health advocate dedicated to giving back to his communities. He speaks to the power of creating a culture of inspired inclusivity and explores what real teamwork looks like, both at home and work.
Of Inuit and Ukrainian descent, Tootoo is not only the first Inuk NHL player, but also the first one raised in Nunavut. He played for the Brandon Wheat Kings in the Western Hockey League (WHL) from 1999 to 2003 and was drafted by the Nashville predators in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. Tootoo was nominated for the NHL Foundation Player Award in 2015, which recognizes players who enrich the lives of people in their community. He announced his retirement from the sport in 2018.
As an Indigenous athletic leader, Tootoo has long understood his responsibility as a role model and speaks openly about the need to fight the stigma around mental illness and to provide more mental health support. He founded the Team Tootoo Foundation in honour of his late brother Terence, to provide grants to various charities for suicide prevention and at-risk youth. In 2016, Tootoo was awarded a Meritorious Service Medal through the Order of Canada in recognition of his work.
Action Photo Credit: Jordin Tootoo #22 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the Nashville Predators at the Bridgestone Arena on February 19, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee. Frederick Breedon/Getty Images