Jackson, Tom

Tom (b Thomas Dale) Jackson. Singer, songwriter, guitarist, actor, writer, broadcast producer, social activist, b One Arrow First Nation Reserve, Sask, 27 Oct 1948; hon D LITT (Laurentian) 1998, hon LLD (Winnipeg) 1998, hon LLD (Victoria) 1999, hon LLD (Trent) 2000, hon D LITT (Lakehead) 2003, hon LLD (Calgary) 2003, hon LLD (Lethbridge) 2004, hon LLD (Alberta) 2007. Raised in Namao, Alberta 1957-63, Tom Jackson moved to Winnipeg at 14 and dropped out of high school at 15. There he learned guitar and through the 1960s and 1970s played country, folk and protest songs in Winnipeg clubs and coffeehouses and at the Winnipeg Folk Festival and other festivals, eg, Toronto's Mariposa. He opened for Valdy in 1980, then pursued solo bookings in Saskatoon and Whitehorse, followed by regular gigs in Winnipeg lounges, eg, with Shingoose and "Kansas City" Dave Cramer. Jackson's early songwriting explored Indigenous issues; later he made a transition to country-rock. His first national release was the CD No Regrets (1994, Peg Records/Sony).

In his twenties and thirties, Jackson also produced public affairs and Indigenous-rights programming for the CBC in Edmonton and Winnipeg, wrote plays, worked as a Winnipeg DJ, and acted in theatre roles, eg, in The Ecstasy of Rita Joe in Winnipeg in 1981. His main activities as a musician and activist then centred on issues of ending hunger and supporting food banks, which partly resulted from his having lived on the back streets of Winnipeg from his mid-teens through his early twenties.

Fund-Raising Activities

Tom Jackson launched the annual Christmas multiple-artist, country-wide concert tour "The Huron Carole Benefit Concert Series" (1988-2004) and its successors, "Singing for Supper" (2004- ) and "Swinging for Supper" (2006- ). He travelled across Canada 2000-3 on Canadian Pacific Railway's fundraising music tour "Holiday Train," which resulted in two compilation CDs. These annual touring events generated about $5 million for food banks and family agencies across Canada. Jackson created the "Dreamcatcher Tour" to provide live music and workshops for urban- and reserve-based Indigenous communities suffering from suicides among young people. He also organized Manitoba flood-relief concerts in 1997 and spearheaded and hosted CBC Newsworld's 2002 coverage of "Say Hay" (which raised $1.8 million in support of drought-stricken prairie farmers), and in 2003 worked with Calgary-based industries on "Beef Relief" (raising more than $600,000 in support of that city's Inter-Faith Food Bank).

Noteworthy Achievements and Awards

As a singer-songwriter, Jackson has recorded over a dozen albums, two of which received Juno nominations. He is known for his bass-baritone voice and has also narrated several television shows. As an actor, he is best known for playing Chief Peter Kenidi on CBC TV's North of 60 1992-7. He has appeared in episodes of numerous television shows and in movies. Jackson was appointed in 1999 an officer of the Order of Canada. He received the Queen's Jubilee Medal in 2002, and in 2005 Centennial Medals from Alberta and Saskatchewan; in 2007 the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television presented him with humanitarian awards at the Juno and Gemini awards.

See also: "Jesous Ahatonhia"

Selected Discography

The Huron Carole. 1988. Cassette. Winnipeg Harvest

Love, Lust and Longing. 1990. Cassette. SSCT 4104 Sunshine Records

Sally Ann. 1990. TH 90 CD 1002 Thunder Records

The Huron Carole. 1994. PMK 077 Peg Music

No Regrets. 1994. PMK 078 Peg Music

Home This Christmas. 1996. HCD96 Tomali Records

That Side of the Window. 1997. TRLC 496007 Tomali Records

The Huron Carole. 1998. TRLC 486008 Tomali Records

The Best of The Huron Carole. 2000. TRLC 486009 Tomali Records

I Will Bring You Near. 2001. TRLC 486010 Tomali Records

On the Holiday Train. 2002. TRLC 486011 Tomali Records

Will Play for Food. 2003. TRLC 486012 Tomali Records

Singing for Supper. 2004. TRLC 486013 Tomali Records

Singing for Supper On Tour. 2006. TRLC 486014 Tomali Records