NHL player Jordin Tootoo is putting his support behind the Aboriginal Youth Council’s work to develop a strategy for youth suicide prevention.
Tootoo, who recently signed with the Detroit Red Wings, is in Whitehorse for a youth hockey camp. He joined members of the council on Wednesday for the announcement. They were in Whitehorse for the annual general meeting of the National Association of Friendship Centres.
“One of the key issues in regard to urban aboriginal suicide in our communities is it's such a taboo subject,” said Andrea Landry, a member of the council.
“You have so many youth that are so afraid to speak about it and so ashamed to speak up about what's going on in their communities.”
Tootoo, who grew up in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, lost his brother to suicide in 2002.
“I could really relate to a lot of these issues that need to be put out there,” he said.
“I think the biggest issue is being able to talk about it and reaching out to somebody and not being afraid to speak out, because there are people out there that care for you and support you.
“We all have issues. We all face issues every day, and to know that there's someone out there to give you a helping hand… It's out there, you know. Reach out. Don't be afraid.”
He said hockey and the support of teammates have been a source of strength throughout his career. Tootoo said he'll continue to use his position as a professional hockey player to promote suicide prevention.