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Well-known Canadian performer Tom Jackson with some students who turned out for his suicide prevention workshop. From left to right are Gloria Rogers, Clarissa Rogers, Alexandria Elanik and Jamie Day.

Tom's message of hope

Jason Unrau
Northern News Services

Inuvik (Mar 18/05) - To get his message out, Tom Jackson prefers an interactive approach as opposed to preaching, so Monday afternoon at Ingamo Hall the well-known Canadian performer let the kids do the talking at his suicide prevention workshop.

"I know nothing about you and what you think," he told the assembled group. "I'm here today to create some good medicine with your help."

After lightening the mood with some humorous questions, Jackson got down to business with a frank conversation about stress and its causes. He then asked the youth their thoughts on what people can do to help get past those hardships.

"I think it was good the way he talked to us, it was powerful," said Grade 12 student Brent Wolki after the workshop.

For Grade 10 student Loni Noksana, the discussion was particularly relevant as one of her friends had contemplated suicide.

"I talked to that person and told them that it wasn't the right thing to do and that they have a whole life ahead of them," she said. Having somebody to talk to when the chips are down is an integral part of getting past those darker days, Jackson said.

For Jackson, the workshops, which are part of his Dreamcatcher Tour, are "tried and true" and the performer says he often receives correspondence from people thanking him for the positive impact his workshops have had.

"(To prevent suicides) it's easier to get involved with a process of intervention," he said after the workshop.

"It's the direct contact and response that works best, getting the people in each community to come up with something that works for them and (the work) continues to energize me."

Jackson said he started the Dreamcatcher Tour nine years ago after he was invited to a community to help in the healing process following the suicide of a young man there.

Since then he has been to hundreds of communities - 25 on this most recent tour that included several stops in Nunavut and the NWT.

Later in the day, Jackson performed a short concert at Sir Alexander Mackenzie school.