The Huron Carole progenitor talked with the Carillon about his creative life
In a press release marking Tom Jackson’s upcoming Huron Carole performance in Regina, the legendary Canadian was billed as an actor, singer, and lifetime philanthropist.
The Order of Canada officer, however, would like to add one more title to his description.
“I would say, currently, my passion in all of those categories could be capsulized by saying I’m a writer,” says Jackson, the author of the yet-to-be-released 364.
“It doesn’t matter to me what I’m writing; I get great joy out of writing. It can be a story, a song, a script, it can be just a note that goes in a shoebox.”
Jackson, whose iconic Huron Carole performance returns to the Queen City on Dec. 10 at Conexus Arts Centre, admits that his writing doesn’t play as direct a role in his activism and philanthropy as it does in other spheres of his life. But, it’s no stretch to say his desire to help people has been a driving force in the former North of 60 and Shining Time Station star’s life for 30 years.
The driving force, actually.
“There’s not much that I do that doesn’t have something, in some form, connected to creating a better world,” Jackson says. “I think, maybe, I have to step back and say creating a better frame of wellness in an attempt to create a better world.”
About 30 years ago, Jackson says, everything in his life changed.
“I found that there was an emotion and a visceral, tangible feeling that I could think, feel, smell, breathe, taste, and it was driven by — or created by — an action. And that action was saving someone else’s life. That created a feeling within me that was a better high, it lasted longer, and it was free, and I became addicted to saving lives.
“I had no life when I was 38,” he continues. “I was living in a hole in the ground and I found a way to help someone who was worse off than me — and it saved my life. In fact, it brought me to you. It was part of my path. It became a defining direction for me.”
Since then, Jackson has worked to improve the lives of those around him — and he’s done his job well.
The aforementioned press release noted that his “varied philanthropic national projects have generated over $200 million in combined cash/in-kind donations for food banks and disaster relief.”
Jackson has been nominated for Juno Awards and Gemini Awards. He has earned honorary degrees from universities across Canada. Last year, he received a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for his lifetime contributions to Canadian broadcasting. But, Jackson says, recognition isn’t important to him.
“I’ve often said that it’s not about the award; it’s about the reward. It’s not about the size of the trophy in the case or the number of trophies in the case; it’s about the sense of achievement from having done something,” says Jackson, a former chancellor for Trent University in Durham, Ont., adding, “It’s often been quoted that you don’t have to change the whole world. You only have to change yours, and the rest will follow.”