Today, Tom Jackson is one of Canada’s most well-known personalities. It wasn’t always this way. Born on the One Arrow reserve in Saskatchewan and raised on the streets of Winnipeg, Tom Jackson learned at an early age the qualities of determination and leadership. He also developed a genuine desire to care for others. Today, Jackson resides in Calgary, but those qualities have stuck with him and have helped him shape a successful career. However, it isn’t his success as a Genie and Gemini-winning actor, or Juno-nominated songwriter that has earned him a spot on our list of A-Z Outstanding Alberta Volunteers—it’s his tireless volunteer work and passionate devotion to charitable causes.
Mr. Jackson is an ardent advocate for the drive against hunger, and has been involved with numerous endeavours in support of food banks across Canada. Seventeen years ago, he began the Huron Carole Concert Series, an annual concert tour that travels across the country during Christmastime. The concerts have featured other prominent Canadian artists, as well as Mr. Jackson and his band, and proceeds from this tour go to the Canadian Association of Food Banks. In 2002 and 2003, Tom collaborated with the Canadian Pacific Railway’s “Holiday Train” fundraising tour to produce 2 compilation CDs. Proceeds from the sales of the CDs and The Huron Carole Concert Series have raised over $3.55 million for the fight against hunger in Canada.
Following the suicide of fellow North of 60 cast member Mervin Good Eagle in 1996, Mr. Jackson created the Dreamcatcher Tour. Its mission - to eradicate suicide amongst youth – has resulted in visits to over 160 urban and reserve locations across Canada delivering messages of hope and empowerment through workshops for youth and concerts for communities.
Mr. Jackson is always busy organizing large volunteer and fundraising efforts. In 2001, he organized a benefit concert and inter-denominational vigil for the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks, raising over $60,000 for the cause. He also hosted CBC Newsworld’s coverage of Say Hay in 2002, a benefit concert which raised over $1.8 million for prairie farmers crippled by drought. In 2003, in collaboration with numerous Calgary-based organizations, he created Beef Relief, which saw over $600,000 in cash and beef contributions donated to the Calgary Inter-Faith Food Bank. He is also a patron of the Heritage Community Foundation.
In recognition of his numerous volunteer endeavours and tireless work for the betterment of the community, Mr. Jackson was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2000. He received the Queen’s Jubilee Medal in 2002. He has also been the recipient of a number of other awards recognizing his ongoing contribution, including the Saskatchewan Distinguished Service Award, the David Crowchild Memorial Award, the National Aboriginal Achievement Award, the Saskatchewan Country Music Association’s International Humanitarian Award, and the Country Music Association’s CF Martin Humanitarian Award. He was also named one of Canada’s best activists by Time Magazine. Mr. Jackson has received honourary degrees from the Universities of Calgary, Lethbridge, Victoria, and Winnipeg, as well as the Lakehead, Laurentian and Trent Universities.