2012 Review: Jordin TooToo: The Highs and Lows in the Journey of the First Inuit to Play in the NHL



Jordin Tootoo book cover


Book Review

Jordin TooToo: The Highs and Lows in the Journey of the First Inuit to Play in the NHL
Lorimer Press
Written By Melanie Florence

“Fight your way through.” These were the words of Jordin Tootoo’s father when Jordin left Canada’s Far North to chase his dream of playing professional hockey.

Although Tootoo would become known as fearless on the ice, getting to the NHL took a lot of courage and determination. He had to overcome culture shock and homesickness, discrimination and racism, and the tragic suicide of his NHL bound older brother whom he worshipped.

Hailing from a small Inuit community called Rankin Inlet, Jordin Tootoo was four when he first laced up his first pair of skates. This book tells the story of Jordin Tootoo’s journey to the NHL, the struggles and the positive attitude he learns to adopt.

Hockey was a part of the Tootoo boys’ every day lives.  They learned to play hockey on any frozen surface they could find in Rankin Inlet and they grew up watching their own father play hockey and make a name for himself. Their father, knowing that his boys could only go so far with hockey in Rankin Inlet, had to make the tough decision of allowing his boys to leave home so that they could pursue their dreams of playing with the NHL.
After leaving Rankin Inlet, Jordin encountered racism for the first time.  He was used to Rankin Inlet where everyone looked alike and celebrated the same culture. Jordin recalled “I was the only Inuk in the area (Spruce Grove), and for the first time I experienced racism at school. I was living with a friend who was Aboriginal, and gangs of kids would come to the house yelling that we weren’t going to take over their school.”

To the local kids, there was no difference between Tootoo and his Aboriginal friend. They were both targets of abuse because of the way they looked. The attitude that he adopted to deal with the racism he encountered, was transferred over to his hockey playing. He believed that by taking negative situations and turning it into something to motivate him was what helped him the most in the early days of his career.

Though the primary focus of this book is hockey, the book covers a wide range of topics and issues that a young reader can take away with them, such as the rights of Inuit people on their land, the federal government’s description and recognition of Indigenous peoples, racism and the higher incidence of Aboriginal youth suicide.

To many, Jordin Tootoo is a Canadian hockey hero, because he not only plays for himself but he also plays for his brother and family, and for all the kids who will come after him, and through it all, he never forgets who he is or where he came from.

This book is a part of Lorimer Press’ RecordBooks. RecordBooks are action packed true stories of Canadian athletes who have changed the face of sport.