Fueling social change through music: Tom Jackson visits the U of S

By in Culture

In its 29th year, the Huron Carole Benefit Concert Series and it’s founder — well-known actor, singer and activist — Tom Jackson, are returning to Saskatoon on Dec. 3 to raise money for the local food bank.

The Huron Carole first began in 1987 in Toronto when Jackson and friends noticed the local food bank was short of hampers in a needy area of the city. They decided to raise enough money to buy supplies and named the project Huron Carole, because they were in the traditional territory of the Huron people.

Jackson sat down with the Sheaf to discuss the history of the concert series and the impact it has on those across Canada.

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The Huron Carole returns to the city on Dec. 3 to raise money for the Saskatoon Food Bank.

Since its beginning, the Huron Carole has expanded and now, in 2016, the series will be traveling across Canada while raising money for a local food bank or centre in each place they perform.

“It mirrors a world that I am familiar with — it tells us the story of this character, musically, where he travels from a centre that is designed to help others to a celebration and the course of events that created the Huron Carole itself are played out on the night,” Jackson said.

Jackson was born on the One Arrow reserve just outside of Saskatoon and is widely-known for his work on CBC’s North of 60, playing Chief Peter Kenidi, and his feature role on Star Trek. Throughout his career, Jackson has always talked about the importance of the arts and how they can influence social change.

“We as artists are inherently sensitive to those who are in strife or in struggle and we have the most significant instrument of change in the history of mankind. The interesting thing about art is that it is honest, it is what it is, once it’s created it doesn’t change … it becomes very powerful in our history,” Jackson said.

The show consists of both music that students will be familiar and unfamiliar with, stories of reflection and passion and lots of laughs. Besides Jackson, the other artists involved in the show are Kristian Alexandrov, Shannon Gaye and Beverly Mahood — all of whom have had successful histories as artists and who Jackson has known for years.

“This year, there is a group of artists that have a great history, that have been engaged with the Huron Carole for many years,” Jackson said.

Although Jackson has raised over $200 million in the 29 years of the Huron Carole, he remains humble and solely focused on its purpose.

“I myself had a need to improve my life and I felt it would improve my life if I could improve others, and that may sound holier than that; I don’t want this to be about me because it’s not about me,” Jackson said.

The Huron Carole is a great way for students to spend the evening of Dec. 3 — not only will you be helping to raise funds for the Saskatoon Food Bank, but you’ll also get to enjoy an amazing show right on campus at Marquis Hall.

“If a flame has died, if a spark is needed, if you don’t quite understand what the Christmas spirit is, if it doesn’t define itself for you, it will if you come to this show. When you leave this show, I guarantee you’ll have a better understanding what the gift is — and the gift is always in the giving,” Jackson said. 

Bridget Morrison / Culture Editor

Photo: Rafal Wegiel / Supplied