Gordon Tootoosis

Gordon Tootoosis, CM (October 25, 1941 – July 5, 2011) was a First Nations actor of Cree and Stoney descent. Tootoosis was a descendant of Yellow Mud Blanket, brother of the famous Cree leader Pîhtokahanapiwiyin.[1] He was acclaimed for his commitment to preserving his culture and to telling his people's stories. He once said, "Leadership is about submission to duty, not elevation to power." He served as a founding member of the board of directors of the Saskatchewan Native Theatre Company. Tootoosis offered encouragement, support and training to aspiring Aboriginal actors. He served as a leading Cree activist both as a social worker and as a band chief.[2] In Open Season and Boog and Elliot's Midnight Bun Run, Tootoosis was the voice of Sheriff Gordy.

Gordon Tootoosis

Gordon Tootoosis.jpg
Tootoosis in the 1970s
Born(1941-10-25)October 25, 1941
DiedJuly 5, 2011(2011-07-05) (aged 69)
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
Resting placePoundmaker Reserve, Saskatchewan
Years active1974–2011
Irene Seseequasis
(m. 1965)

He was awarded membership in the Order of Canada on October 29, 2004.[2] The investiture ceremony took place on September 9, 2005. His citation recognizes him as an inspirational role model for Aboriginal youth. It notes that as a veteran actor, he portrayed memorable characters in movie and television productions in Canada and the United States.[2]


His first acting role was in the film Alien Thunder (1974), alongside Chief Dan George and Donald Sutherland. He portrayed Albert Golo in 52 episodes of North of 60 in the 1990s. He is best known to British audiences for playing the Native American Joe Saugus, who negotiates the purchase of the Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge in Auf Wiedersehen, Pet series 3 (2002). Tootoosis appeared in the CBC Television mini-series By Way of the Stars with Eric Schweig as Black Thunder and Tantoo Cardinal as Franoise. He appeared in the award-winning movie Legends of the Fall (1994), and starred with Russell Means in Disney's Pocahontas (1995) and Song of Hiawatha (1997). In 1999, he and Tantoo Cardinal became founding members of the board of directors of the Saskatchewan Native Theatre Company. In 2011, he appeared in Gordon Winter at the Persephone Theatre in Saskatoon and Prairie Scene in Ottawa, his first stage role in 15 years.[3]

Tootoosis won a Gemini Award for his work on the animated show Wapos Bay: The Series and was nominated twice for his work on North of 60.

Personal life and deathEdit

Tootoosis was raised with his 13 siblings in the Plains Cree tradition until he was forced from his home; taking indigenous children away from their communities and into residential schools was Canadian government policy at the time. Tootoosis was placed in a Catholic residential school, where he was treated harshly and forbidden to speak his own language. His father John Tootoosis was an activist for aboriginal rights, which got the younger Tootoosis into trouble at school.[1] After his traumatic school years, Tootoosis went into social work, specializing in work with children and young offenders. His interest in his own cultural traditions led him to become an accomplished native dancer and rodeo roper, and he toured with the Plains InterTribal Dance Troupe in the 1960s and 1970s throughout Canada, Europe and South America, becoming one of North America's most popular powwow announcers.[1] His father was one of the founders of the National Indian Brotherhood and former head of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN). Gordon himself served as the chief of his band and as a vice-president of FSIN. Tootoosis married Irene Seseequasis in 1965. They had three daughters, Glynis, Alanna and Disa, three sons, Lee, Winston Bear, and Clint. After their daughter Glynnis died of cancer in 1997, they took the responsibility of raising her four children in Saskatoon.[4]

Tootoosis died on July 5, 2011, aged 69, after being hospitalized for pneumonia at St. Paul's Hospital in Saskatoon.[5][6] His funeral and interment were held on the Poundmaker Cree Nation Reserve in Cut Knife.[7] In 2015, the Saskatchewan Native Theatre Company changed its name to the Gordon Tootoosis Nīkānīwin Theatre Company in honour of Tootoosis.

Selected filmographyEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Wise, Wyndham. "Gordon Tootoosis". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Archived from the original on 2018-11-16. Retrieved 2011-07-05.
  2. ^ a b c "Gordon Tootoosis, C.M." Order of Canada. Governor General of Canada. Retrieved 2011-07-05.
  3. ^ Fuller, Cam (July 7, 2011). "Tootoosis remembered for arts, spirituality and public service". Vancouver Sun. Postmedia Network. Retrieved 2011-07-08.
  4. ^ Eastman, Charles Alexander; Trosper, James (2009). Michael Oren Fitzgerald (ed.). Living in Two Worlds: The American Indian Experience. Bloomington, Indiana: World Wisdom. p. 204. ISBN 978-1-933316-76-5.
  5. ^ Chung, Amy (July 5, 2011). "Canadian actor and First Nations leader Gordon Tootoosis dead at 69". The Vancouver Sun. Postmedia Network. Archived from the original on July 9, 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-06.
  6. ^ "Actor Gordon Tootoosis dies: family". CBC News. July 5, 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-05.
  7. ^ "Actor Gordon Tootoosis funeral held on home reserve". CBC.ca. 2011-07-08. Retrieved 2011-07-09.

External linksEdit