Two Albertans Receive the Highest Honour at the Canadian Red Cross

By: Shelly Makrugin, Senior Communications Advisor, Canadian Red Cross

Two well-known Albertans have received the Order of the Red Cross, member level, the organization’s highest award.

Dr. Tom Jackson, musician, activist, and philanthropist, and Charles Weaselhead, former Grand Chief and former Chancellor of the University of Lethbridge, received the distinguished honour at separate ceremonies in Calgary and Stand Off in October.

"We feel extremely thankful to have two outstanding people from Alberta among the Order of Red Cross recipients this year,” says Thu Parmar, Canadian Red Cross vice president for Alberta and the Northwest Territories. “They are true humanitarians who have dedicated themselves to supporting and strengthening their communities, and it is because of their extraordinary efforts that they are both being acknowledged with this honour.”

Jackson is a beloved musician and actor, but is also known as a humanitarian, activist, and philanthropist, lending his talents and time to numerous causes for the betterment of communities. He became an official Red Cross Ambassador during the 2013 southern Alberta floods but had been a supporter for many years before that. As an Ambassador, Jackson has visited numerous communities offering his support, hope, and care to communities across Canada and to Red Cross teams during very challenging times including during the COVID-19 response, the Humboldt bus tragedy, wildfires in British Columbia in 2017 and 2018, and the northern Alberta fires that caused 80,000 people to flee Fort McMurray in 2016.

“This award is humbling to say the least,” says Tom Jackson. “The reward is an acknowledgment of work that you have inspired in my life to help the vulnerable, whomever and wherever they may be. I’m addicted to love, not the word, but the verb. You are my oxygen. Without you I would cease to exist.”

As a collaborative partner, Charles Weaselhead has been instrumental in helping build the strong relationship the Red Cross has today with the Kainai-Blood Nation. As the Kainai Nations’ Health Director, he spearheaded the initial Memorandum of Understanding with the Kainai Nation that continues to promote the mutual support and programming such as creating safe environments, risk and hard reduction, first aid and water safety, volunteer training, youth engagement, and emergency supports to the people of Kainai Nation. Additionally, Charles Weaselhead supported Red Cross teams during the catastrophic floods of 2013 and due to his relationship with the Red Cross, our teams were asked to support the Kainai Nation’s Health authority during COVID-19. 

“It’s my honour to be recognized for the service award from Red Cross and it certainly marks a significant milestone in my career. Sincerely and humbly, I wish to thank my family and peers for believing and empowering me to continue the work I do for Indigenous communities,” says Charles Weaselhead. “Thank you to my peers who have shared their experiences and teaching with me. My grandfather taught me to follow my passion and dreams. He used to tell me to believe in the Creator, believe in yourself, believe in family.”

Annual appointment of the Order of the Red Cross is limited to 25 members and only has more than 400 members in total. 

Musician Tom Jackson partners with Red Cross to inspire change
Interview with former Grand Chief Charles Weaselhead
A word with Red Cross Ambassador Tom Jackson

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