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Ted Nolan returns home for book signing, first time since cancer diagnosis

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A living legend returned to Garden River First Nation this week.

Former NHL player and coach Ted Nolan visited his home community, touting the recent release of his autobiography.

Ted Nolan talks with CTV News on Nov. 28/23 about his new book and his health. (Cory Nordstrom/CTV News Northern Ontario)A large gathering Tuesday evening saw fans, friends and family members in attendance for the book signing event for ‘Life in Two Worlds: A Coach's Journey from the Reserve to the NHL and Back.’

The book, released in October, documents both the highs and lows of his career in pro hockey, from the racism he faced over the years, to winning the Jack Adams Award for the National Hockey League's top coach.

Though it includes plenty of fun anecdotes from his career – like sharing the ice with a 16-year-old on the Soo Greyhounds who would go on to be nicknamed ‘The Great One’ – it is more than just a recount of his life in sport.

Nolan traverses topics like men's mental health and reconciliation.

"I wanted to use hockey as a metaphor for life itself, because sometimes people get judged by the way they look, or what kind of income they're coming from,” said Nolan.

“The only thing the kids want to do when they're little children is they just want to play."

The place where Nolan's love for the game was first realized served as the perfect place for the event he said.

It also meant he got to me home and see some of his large family still in the community, as well as take in some of the culture, with a drum group, and jingle dress dancers performing at the event.

"I love back home. Even when I played, all the people that I played with didn't think I liked being around where I played, it wasn't that I didn't like where I was playing, I just loved home more, and I couldn't wait to come home," said Nolan.

Garden River First Nation Chief Karen Bell told CTV News that Nolan just means just as much to the community.

She said ‘Ted’ is an idol across the country, especially in Indigenous communities, and the First Nation is glad to call him one of their own.

"Garden River is so extremely proud of this man,” said Bell.

“He's so humble and hasn't forgot where he's from. He always says that he's from Garden River and he's very, very proud of where he comes from, that's what means a lot to this community."

The book signing also included a fundraiser for the Garden River First Nation Food Bank.

That was important to Nolan who "woke up with not too much to eat" as a kid.

In total, more than $13,000 was raised for the food bank.

Over $3,000 came from pledges for locals to shave their heads in solidarity with Nolan, who was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer, in March.

The 65-year-old told CTV News that his most recent health update was good news.

"I went and seen the doctor and he said my blood is back to normal,” he said.

“But he didn't let me ring that bell yet, I'm hoping I get to ring the bell soon. He (the doctor) says everything is looking good."

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