For over 40 years, actor, singer, producer, activist, Tom Jackson has crafted a compassionate stage of caring. He has embraced his life experiences, championed for the marginalized, and entertained a continent of concert-goers and TV watchers. His acumen has earned him recognition amongst his peers, yet he humbly perseveres as it’s the reward he seeks, not the award.
Born to an English father and Cree mother, he carries the legacy of his parents’ selfless manner of keeping the door open for anyone who might need a meal or a conversation. While living on the streets of Winnipeg, his personal search for identity led to bonds with those outcast and marginalized. His voice became his way off the streets – figuratively and literally – and in to radio stations, television studios, film sets and theatres.
Penned the master of disaster, or minstrel with a message, it is music – his first love – that draws him to create change with the touch of a song, a poem, a musical or a concert tour. He annually takes to the road with The Huron Carole Benefit Concert Series marking 24 years of cross Canada travel raising awareness and funds for food banks and charitable organizations. Tom has recorded 16 albums – the latest release “Ballads Not Bullets” – in support of the Canadian Red Cross.
For a younger generation of TV viewers, Tom is recognizable from his portrayal of Billy Twofeathers in Shining Time Station, and his guest role in Star Trek The Next Generation. Yet it’s his 6 years of playing Chief Peter Kenidi in CBC’s North of 60 that still draws comments, letters, emails and many hugs from longtime fans. The series was an inspired view in to the lives of a First Nation community and Tom inadvertently became a role model because of it. Taking the responsibility and possibility from that profile has led to extraordinary achievements in community service, professional development and global change.
Whether one links Tom to The Huron Carole – the song or the national concert tour – Singing for Supper or Swinging for Supper, the evidence of his earning and staying power in the fundraising circle is without question and one of infamy for this country’s food banks. When there’s trouble or trauma, Tom steps up with ideas to alleviate and compensate those devastated by floods, typhoons, fires, drought, terrorism, youth suicide, homelessness, environmental disaster and economic disadvantage.
His mantra of being in service to others is secured with his choice to engage if it’s good business, good for the world, and good for the soul. He can light up a room with his storytelling, endearing humour and self-penned tunes. He can inspire, uplift and entertain 10 or 10,000 and the gifts he shares, he carries from his ancestry, his life and his loves.
“You don’t have to change the whole world, you just have to change your world, and the rest will follow.”
CCMA Humanitarian Award 1996
Officer of the Order of Canada 2000
Queen’s Jubilee Medals 2002 and 2012
Order of Canada Advisory Committee Member 2004-2007
AB and SK Centennial Medals 2005
Juno Humanitarian Award 2007
Gemini Humanitarian Award 2007
Chancellor Trent University 2009-2013
Honorary Degree recipient – 9 universities – 1998 to 2010
Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement 2014
Generated approximately $200 million in combined cash/in-kind value for food banks and disaster relief
Ballads Not Bullets campaign launches coinciding with single & music video release in aid of Canadian Red Cross