Emily Fearon
VJN News

The RCMP teamed up with an NHL hockey player in an effort to prevent violence against women and girls.

An approximately minute-long video launched on April 27 shows Jordin Tootoo, an NHL player with the New Jersey Devils.

Between clips of Tootoo playing hockey with kids from Fort McKay First Nation, he said in the video that violence against a spouse, girlfriend or any woman should never be tolerated.

“I thought this was a great way to speak up and take action for a lot of women who deserve better,” he said in an interview with VJN.

“Women, whether they’re adolescents, teens, adults, elders—we need to treat them the way we want to be treated.”

Tootoo said this project stood out to him because of what he witnessed first-hand when he was growing up.

He said a lot of men don’t treat women with respect and give them the benefit of the doubt.

“Sometimes a lot of men and boys are so hard-headed that they don’t give women the benefit of the doubt and that needs to change,” Tootoo said.

The video and its “simple but powerful message” have been well received, according to Maryanne Pearce, manager of the RCMP’s Vulnerable Persons Unit.

Pearce said the RCMP wanted to to use the public service announcement to spread awareness across Canada about the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and family violence.

“Ultimately, of course, we want to see a reduction of violence against women and girls,” she said.

Pearce described how the RCMP has been working to raise awareness about family violence using tools such as the latest video and another one done with singer Shania Twain in 2014, as well as a poster campaign done in part with the Native Women’s Association of Canada.

The RCMP has initiatives in place for victims of abuse, and works in collaboration with community groups to combat family violence and sexual assault, Pearce said.

For Tootoo, loving yourself is an important step to ending abuse.

“I think the key to happiness is loving yourself first, and then when you get to that point, that energy feeds off onto other people,” he said. “I think the more you give with your attitude, with your heart, the more you get back, and that’s something I truly believe in.”