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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


June 14, 2003 - Issue 89


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Tootoo Signs with the Predators

by CBC Canada-North
credits: Photo: Jordin Tootoo receiving his award from the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation

Jordin Tootoo receiving his award from the National Aboriginal Achievement FoundationIQALUIT, Nunavut - Jordin Tootoo is the first Inuk to sign a contract with a National Hockey League. Tootoo signed a three-year contract with the Nashville Predators on Thursday. The 20-year old hockey player from Rankin Inlet says it's a day he'll never forget.

Jordin Tootoo got the call from the Nashville Predators on Thursday.

"I'm pretty much speechless," he says. "Not too often do I get this way, but it's a special feeling and I hope one day many more Inuks can have this feeling."

Tootoo says its the fulfillment of a lifelong ambition.

"You know this is one of the goals that I had growing up," he says. "To sign an NHL contract is a huge honour and there's bigger things to happen yet."

Tootoo was drafted into the NHL in 2001, but until now hasn't been put under contract.

Tootoo won a silver medal with Team Canada at the 2003 World Junior Championships in Halifax in January.

This past season he tied for top scorer of the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League.

Tootoo has also been named Brandon's most popular player four years in a row.

Tootoo says he can't release further details of his NHL contract with the Predators. He'll head to Nashville at the end of June for a conditioning camp.

Jordin Tootoo has signed a three-year contract with the Nashville Predators, becoming the first Inuit hockey player to have earned the right to wear an NHL jersey. A native of Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, Tootoo finalized the details of his contract while conducting a student focused motivational speaking tour of schools in Canada's arctic.

"I've been encouraging young people to work hard in following their dreams and today I am able to tell them that with hard work dreams really can come true," said Tootoo. "It is especially sweet to be able to close my contract while in Nunavut, surrounded by the family and friends who have been my support and inspiration."

Tootoo was a fourth-round pick in the 2001 draft and has spent the past two years honing his skills with the Brandon Wheat Kings in the Junior A, Western Hockey League. As a strong all-round player Tootoo was a leading point scorer who earned a reputation as an aggressive, hard-hitting and level headed forward. The 2003 World Junior Championship showcased Tootoo's ability to play at the international level, where as a member of Team Canada he brought home a silver medal.

"With the Wheat Kings, my role was to be the go-to guy and to be a goal scorer. At the World Junior Championship my job was to stop the other team's top player from scoring," said Tootoo.

Tootoo will begin skating with the Nashville Predators at a conditioning camp beginning in late June.

The NorTerra Group of Companies is providing the support for "Toots" on his northern speaking tour. NorTerra is an aboriginal owned company comprised of the Inuvialuit Development Corporation, representing the Inuvialuit of the western arctic and by the Nunasi Corporation, representing the Inuit of Nunavut. As an Inuk from Rankin Inlet, Tootoo is a birthright shareholder in the Nunasi Corporation.

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