GIVING BACK - Singer/actor Tom Jackson returns to Red Deer with The Huron Carole

The Huron Carole returns to support the Red Deer food bank

Event to take place Nov. 30th at the Harvest Centre

Singer/actor and lifetime philanthropist Tom Jackson is again hitting the road this year with The Huron Carole Tour, which lands in Red Deer on Nov. 30th at the Harvest Centre in Westerner Park.

Join the Red Deer Food Bank for a Christmas dinner, songs and stories – with things getting underway at 6 p.m. Building on the campaign of developing events that bring communities together with volunteers, fans and clients of various agencies and food banks, the 2016 tour is promising to deliver even more of the same.

“Each year, we think about how we can make it a more magical experience for the people who attend,” said Jackson during a recent chat. “So each year, we’ve tried to improve certain things, or add certain things. Last year, for example, was clearly different than previous years because we were right on the edge of creating a musical play.

“And this year, it’s even more of that. We’ve improved over last year’s show in my opinion because what we’ve done is we’ve added more music, and there’s a little less narrative. We’ve also added some characters that we didn’t have last year.”

As pointed out in a release, The Huron Carole brings ‘those we help’ together with ‘those who give’ for a night of breaking bread, breaking barriers, and celebrating roles in the world of social responsibility.

“Why The Huron Carole is so special to me, is that we are creating a community with a common cause. This allows me to humbly say that I am now part of your community.”

Joining Jackson onstage this year is CCMA humanitarian and multi-talented entertainer Beverley Mahood, Canadian Smooth Jazz Award winner Kristian Alexandrov and acoustic soul artist Shannon Gaye.

As Jackson explains, The Huron Carole is a Christmas story, “A story filled with reflection, humour, passion and the journey of a homeless man through darkness to light.

“It’s the journey of a homeless man who goes from being destitute to finding a way in life by helping others,” said Jackson. “That’s really the story.

“And at the end of day, we hope that what transpires is consistent across the country and that people get a new perspective or a re-infusion of exactly what the Christmas spirit is,” he said.

Meanwhile, Jackson’s passion for philanthropy goes beyond the holiday season, as he works on initiatives year-round.

This past summer, he traveled to the Badlands of Alberta to work on a project with photographer and social media expert Dax Justin. Titled ‘Spirit of the Badlands’, the works explore his, “Journey to find meaningful stories and capture images that make you feel the true power of the Badlands.”

Earlier this year, he also traveled to La Loche, Fond du Lac, Wollaston and Stoney Rapids, Saskatchewan, as well as Ottawa, in his role as an ambassador for the Canadian Red Cross. Jackson produced ‘The Humanity of HeArt’, a video tribute to the Red Cross for their work during the Nepal earthquakes.

For Jackson, keeping the right perspective is vital. “I met someone this year in an elevator and had an interesting conversation. I said, ‘How are you doing?’ He said, ‘I’m awesome – I’m really good’. I asked him where he was from, and he said Newfoundland. The man went on to tell Jackson that his home was lost in the Fort McMurray fires last spring, as was his car. He said to me, ‘What you see is what you get – I’m wearing a T-shirt and a pair of jeans and that’s all I got. But I’ll tell you this – I just got off the phone with my sister, who is also living in Fort McMurray. She’s safe. So I am absolutely fabulous.’”

It’s stories like that that continue to inspire Jackson and fuel his sense of gratitude in life. And also spur him on in his continuing mission to help others.

“What we need to do is to close the gap for those who have nothing to having something. And to let them know that we love them.”

He’s also been inspired by Fred Scaife, the executive director of the Red Deer Food Bank.

“I learned something from Fred last year. Two weeks before the show, he said, ‘I think that everybody regardless of where they sit in the community, should be treated with the same humility and feel the same humility and respect as everybody else. When people come to the food bank, I want them to feel proud and I want them to know that they are part of our community.’”

Born to an English father and Cree mother, Jackson 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. Jackson has recorded 16 albums with the latest being last year’s Ballads Not Bullets in 2015.

Jackson is also 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 six years of playing Chief Peter Kenidi in CBC’s North of 60 that still draws comments, letters, emails and hugs from longtime fans.

As mentioned, all proceeds from The Huron Carole benefit the Red Deer Food Bank.

For tickets, visit the Black Knight Ticket Centre or call 403-343-6666.

mark.weber@reddeerexpress.com