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Message in music

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Feb 28/05) - Nationally-known actor and singer Tom Jackson is about to launch an extensive suicide awareness tour across the NWT.

In March, Jackson will visit 15 communities with his Dreamcatcher Tour.

Jackson developed his Dreamcatcher Tour in response to the 1996 suicide of a fellow 'North of 60' actor, 19-year-old Mervin Good Eagle.

"We don't travel into communities claiming we have the answers," Jackson said in a telephone interview from Calgary.

Instead, he explained, the Dreamcatcher Tour offers a way for communities to discuss the issue of suicide.

"The solutions have to be community-based," he said.

Jackson said that in the eight years he has been doing this tour he has come to realize the main problem is people's inability to deal with stress.

The tour consists of a workshop for youth and caregivers and an evening concert for the whole community.

Jackson believes the Dreamcatcher Tour, which was developed for high school youth, has made a difference in the fight against suicide.

"We absolutely believe we're having an impact," he said.

During the workshops, Jackson will be accompanied by Dave Masecar, past president of the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention.

Using the theme "We have something important to discuss," the presentation offers positive messages about stress, mental health, suicide prevention and coping.

For the concerts, Jackson will be accompanied by guitar player/singer John Thiel.

In April the tour continues with stops in 10 Nunavut communities.

Jackson said he is looking forward to touring the North again. "Every time I go to the North, magical things happen."