Jordin Tootoo was a happy and contented man as he celebrated being 10 years sober earlier this month.

It’s been a long hard road for the former NHLer from Rankin Inlet, and one he feels he’d no longer be on if he had continued with his former lifestyle.

Jordin Tootoo of Rankin Inlet reacts after scoring a goal for the Chicago Blackhawks.
photo courtesy Black Hawk Up

Tootoo said his life has been quite the journey.

He said he’s looking forward to everything the future has in store for himself and his family.

Living up North is hard with the substance abuse, domestic violence, dysfunction in the households and all that,” said Tootoo.

I tell people — and I said it in my book — I don’t resent anyone. I don’t resent my parents for the experiences I had. I’m actually grateful because it’s opened up my eyes in sobriety to understand the cycle.

I don’t go around preaching to people because, to me, it’s each to their own. I try to lead by example for our people and our Indigenous communities.

I chose this life and a lot of my buddies who I grew up with in Rankin now see. We learn by watching, especially in the Northern communities. What you see is what you do.”

Jordin Tootoo is a happy and content man while celebrating 10 years sober earlier this month.
photo courtesy Tootoo family

Tootoo said he’s honoured to be an example of someone who chose a better way of life.

He said it was something that he chose — to stop one cycle and start a new cycle for he and his family.

For me, the first two years of sobriety was probably the toughest experience of my life.

I had to find different avenues, different ways to keep myself busy.

Ultimately it was the land that kept me grounded. When you go out on the land nothing else matters. You’re living in that moment.

It’s out on the land where we heal as Inuit, as Indigenous people. It’s where we come together and help each other out and, that’s what really kept me going on a day-to-day basis during my first two years of sobriety.”

Tootoo said when he first went sober, being in the south during the NHL season, he really didn’t have those kinds of opportunities.

He said having the support of the Nashville Predators organization meant a lot to him, and he surrounded himself with positive people who wanted him to succeed.

You find out pretty darn quick who your real friends are when you change your life.

You start to eliminate people who want to take you down. And I’ve seen that first hand in our communities.

When someone starts to become successful or is doing good, jealousy sets in and some community members want to bring them down to their level.

I choose this path and when someone says, ‘Oh Jordin look, you’ve got everything thanks to your God-given talent,’ I say, ‘No! I’ve worked hard for this. I earned every darn bit of what I have. It wasn’t just given to me.’

I started learning during sobriety that when you become comfortable and content in your own skin, you start to become successful within yourself.”

Tootoo said he didn’t want to get sober to impress others. He wanted to do it to stop one cycle and start another.

Grateful for wife and children

He said he wouldn’t have what he has today if not for his wife, Jennifer, and their two daughters Sienna Rose, 4, and Avery Grace, 2.

This is what sobriety has given to me. I know for a fact that I didn’t fix myself. There’s no possible way I would have the life today that I have without support and it takes time for individuals to heal.

During the first three years of my sobriety, I felt like every day was a damn test, but that’s how many people I affected throughout my life by using and I just said, ‘Wow!’

I had three years of every other day when there were people coming up to me and asking if I remembered this happening or that happening, and for me to be able to say, ‘I’m sorry’ took all that weight right off of my back.

But I knew, deep down inside, that if I didn’t stop what I was doing I would be the next victim. I would be the next person six feet under. I knew my late brother, Terence, didn’t want that, and I chose to believe him that, at the end of the day, everything will be OK if you have clarity and the right mindset. My mind had been foggy for the past 15 years — from the age of 12 until 26, when I entered rehab.”

Tootoo said it’s a battle in the mind but as the days, months and years go past you start to become comfortable in your own skin and choosing a different way of life has become OK.

He said he couldn’t imagine being in an isolated community up North and trying to change your perspective on life, because everyone around you is stuck in a stagnant life of living pay cheque to pay cheque and looking for someone else to make them happy.

Ultimately, you create your own happiness and, for me, the future is about being a present father for my kids, being there to watch them grow and learn.

And now, with sobriety, I’m able to do that. I’m able to get up at 6 a.m. to feed them and be a part of their every day life.

It’s something that, oh man, it’s something I am so grateful to have.”

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Darrell Greer

Darrell Greer is Editor of Kivalliq News

32 replies on “Jordin Tootoo celebrates 10 years of sobriety”

  1. 100% support “keep it up !” Keep praying on right path been sober 13 years came from rough path too one day at time.

  2. Wonderful article, Darrell. Inspiring. And so true, it is very hard to break old habits when living in your home community and in contact with old friends. We deeply admire what Jordin has done and how he has become such a role model! John Hickes and Page Burt, Rankin Inlet.

  3. Congrats on your healthy lifestyle, you are great example to our future generations, congrats on your achievements with hockey, Merry Christmas to you and your family

  4. So proud of you for choosing the right path. Many blessings to you, your wife and family! All the best to you!

  5. Congrats Jordin on your 10 years of sobriety! You and Jennifer are very Nice people and Avery Rose and Serena are lucky to Have you as parents. I know that my brother Luc was very proud of you and your achievements on and off ice ! Keep going head up!

  6. Keep going strong.great role model for future.you inspire me.i doing my best!take care you and family..congrats!!

  7. Congrats Jordan. I met you a couple times on the golf course at 2 Eagles It was such an honour to have you there to support our youth fundraiser So proud of you n your family

  8. Thank you. I am with you in Sobriety. “ONE DAY ATA TIME” I did have lots of ups and downs in my early sobriety. My girlfriend was Cree native when I got sober. I got sober for myself. Today I try to carry the message to others in what I do in the real world. I can only continue to love myself and I can love others also. Life today has more sunshine than clouds. I just had 21 years sober this past September.

  9. Awesome Jordan and really true up to each of us. And truely a day at a time. Roads even harder sometimes in the sobriety.
    Being real to one self can open a new perspective.

  10. Congrats Jordan! Always looked up to you from the first day I met you, though you are far younger then me I can still learn alot! You are an inspiration! Keep smiling, keep being you, and stay healthy!

  11. You are one of my favorite hockey players and one day would love to hang out I have followed ya since you were 15 and I’m clean 30 years but always looked up to you if your ever on van island .Nanaimo look me up
    And dinners on me .brothers forever

  12. Glad to hear that you are doing well followed your career then lost track, bless you and your family keep it up stay well

  13. Congratulations on your 10 year mark and every day up to and after.
    I’m sure you will continue to battle and fight the fight with every ounce of your being, the same way you played every minute of every game.
    With determination
    With desire
    With dedication

    Stay true to yourself and your family.

  14. A well deserved celebration … you are inspiring and a good role model.. wishing you n your family Happy Holidays… stay healthy n stay safe

  15. What an inspiration to others who are battling that demon (alcohol) lost my younger sister and brother to it,keep being that example God bless you and your family

  16. One of the most intelligent and realistic comments regarding race I’ve heard came from Jordan. He was asked about the Edmonton Eskimos changing their name. Look it up.

  17. Loved to go to the OCN Blizzard hockey games to watch you and your brother. Terrible loss to everybody when your brother passed. Stay strong and healthy. You have created many great memories for all hockey fans. Great job Jordan.

  18. You are an inspiration to all Jordon. Loved to watch you playing with the OCN Blizzard! Stay strong and enjoy your family.

  19. Good for you Jordan! I knew you’d make it when you were in grade 7! I knew you could accomplish anything you put your mind to. Congrats on your wonderful life!

  20. I remember when I got your jersey Christmas 99 from the Nashville Preds. Starter, home jersey. I still have it. You were always one of my very favourite athletes, and I respect you very much for the adversity you’ve overcome in your life. Thank you for being the best possible version of yourself. Your family and community will forever benefit

  21. Congratulations Jordan. I’ve been sober since 1984. It just takes 1 day at a time. Sometimes it takes 1 minute at a time. Happy 10th anniversary Jordan.

  22. What an awesome role model you are to all aboriginal people across turtle Island. We need more aboriginal players giving back to their communities and caring for them as you do- you lead the road for all aboriginal hockey players out there bc you lead by example for not only aboriginaly youth but all youth in general. Great role model for sure!

  23. Awesome news Jordin,
    I wish you the best for your sobriety.
    Good Friend from Fort Providence,
    Tara Moccasin

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