Jordin Tootoo on Helping Indigenous Youth and Canada Goose Footwear


Growing up in Nunavut, Jordin Tootoo knows the cold well. Add to that a successful 13-year career in the NHL, which included 65 goals and starts with the Nashville Predators, Detroit Red Wings, New Jersey Devils and Chicago Blackhawks, and it becomes even clearer than he knows all about freezing temperatures. As a result, Canada Goose reached out to the retired professional athlete to help her test two new pairs of boots, the Snow Mantra Boot and the Journey Boot, which she is launching as part of her first shoe collection. “I was honored to be one of those hardware testers,” he says.

Since retiring in 2018, Tootoo has taken care of his extensive charitable work and community outreach in various Indigenous communities across Canada. As the first player of Inuit descent in NHL history, Tootoo admits he felt no added pressure to represent his community at the time – “I was just a kid who wanted to play hockey, ”he says – but he has since understood the impact of his writing career on Aboriginal youth.

Now, as one of the famous faces of Canada Goose‘s latest campaigns, the former NHL star has spoken to us about his hockey career, his charity work with Indigenous youth and what he’s been up to. been doing since hanging up his skates.

Canada Goose launches its very first shoe collection. Growing up in Nunavut, you know how harsh Canadian winters can be, and I’m sure you’ve been through countless pairs of boots in your lifetime. What was it in these boots, in particular, that you liked based on your own previous experiences?
Winters in Nunavut are usually harsh and unpredictable, so I learned how important it is to have the right gear: jacket, shoes, hats and gloves. I was thrilled that Canada Goose launched shoes because of its history and expertise in making hot products. I knew their expansion into shoes would suit my lifestyle.

Canada Goose Gear tests many of its products before launch, taking feedback received into the final design. For footwear, Canada Goose has worked with men and women around the world, including adventurers from around the world, scientists and professionals in the entertainment industry to put their boots to the ultimate test. I was honored to be one of those hardware testers. I had the opportunity to smell and wear the boots while filming the shoe campaign we shot in British Columbia.

How would you describe your own fashion sense, in five words or less?
I wear what’s comfortable and, to be honest, as long as it’s functional, it’s perfect.

Image via Canada Goose

What is your favorite item of clothing or accessory that you own?
When I lived in British Columbia the first choice was my Canada Goose rain jacket which keeps me dry in the worst conditions. It is super light and of very high quality; I use it often to protect my wife’s hair from the rain!

You were the first Inuk to play in the NHL. Did this put additional pressure on you in terms of representing your community?
I didn’t feel the pressure at the time. I really didn’t see myself as a representative of my community. I was just a kid who wanted to play hockey. It wasn’t until I retired that I realized the importance of my voice in helping Indigenous youth through suicide prevention and mental health awareness.

“I remember being in an indigenous community in the north and an elder came to me after my speech to tell me that his son had attended the event and had decided to go into rehab after hearing me speak. . I was crying.”

What was your overall experience on and off the ice?
The bond that forms in team sport is unlike any other experience. I will always cherish the time spent with my teammates and the camaraderie we shared on and off the ice.

After so many seasons in the NHL and playing for several different teams over the years, is there a moment that has established itself as the highlight of your career?
Nothing will ever compare to the experience of representing my country at the World Junior Hockey Championship. [in 2003].

Jordin Tootoo plays for the Nashville Predators
Image via Getty / John Russell / NHLI

You are known for your extensive charitable work and community outreach work with Indigenous communities. What has been your proudest moment so far with the work you do?
The moments that really come to my mind are when I hear, after an event, that my words helped someone who was struggling. The job I do now is to help people in my community who are stuck [to] see a better way forward. I am always humbled when I hear that my words have touched them in a positive way. I remember being in an indigenous community in the north and an elder came to me after my speech to tell me that his son had attended the event and had decided to go into rehab after hearing me speak. I was crying. Another proud moment for me was when I recently visited Alert Bay [in British Columbia]. It was amazing to see the pride the community felt for their Indigenous heritage and how they were able to showcase it with pure joy. This trip is one that I will remember all my life.

Beyond establishing a day of truth and reconciliation, what other steps would you like Canada to take for the Indigenous community?
It is not for me to tell people what to do or not to do. Instead, I will strive to be the best version of myself as an example to others.

Besides your extensive charitable work, what else have you done since retiring from the NHL in 2018?
Most of my time is spent being the best father and husband I can be. But I’m also happy to be working on my second book and working with some great people who are creating a documentary about the story of my life. When I’m not working on these projects, I like to go on a fishing trip with friends just to be in nature and recharge my batteries.

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