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Friday, March 16, 2018

Reader's Diary #1763- Jordin Tootoo, with Stephen Brunt: All the Way

Two huge takeaways for me from Jordin Tootoo's autobiography All The Way: My Life on the Ice are Jordin's love for his brother Terrence, who committed suicide in 2002, and how much of an advocate for communication Jordin is.

I don't have a lot to add about Terrence's suicide except that I was living in Rankin Inlet when it happened at went to a very emotional service in the middle school. I was new to the town at the time and didn't really know the Tootoos, but the impact of Terrence's death on the town (everyone went to that service) was palpable and has stuck with me. Sadly, suicide, as I would soon learn was a very common tragedy in Rankin and the rest of Nunavut.

Perhaps related to that is the issue of communication. Jordin describes being a young boy when him and Terrence would escape the house to avoid his parents' alcoholism and abuse. They'd be playing outside at all hours with other young friends who, in hindsight, he figures were also avoiding trouble at home. Still, that fact he has to figure is underscored by the fact that they didn't talk about it. To be fair, they were kids looking to escape. Who'd want to talk about crap going on at home? That said, even as adults there was a lot being hush-hushed, too much being kept in secret, bottled up until it exploded. I wonder if this is yet another terrible side-effect of colonization of the north.

Jordin's book is almost immediately shocking from the very first chapter in his unflinching openness. Right away he gets into his troubled relationship with his parents, their drinking, their abuse. I've met both parents and didn't know this. I didn't hear it talked about. I've seen Jordin touring the town with his father and things looked great. I found myself wondering what the effect of this book was. How did they feel when they read it? I think a follow-up book is necessary. I would imagine that emotions were initially negative, some sadness, some anger, but I would also imagine that Jordin's dragging the past out into the light is an important first step toward healing.

I'm not much of a hockey follower, but I found All The Way to be a compelling human story with important messages.


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