Saskatoon, Treaty 6: Brenda Jackson

photo credit: Jennifer Sparrowhawk

photo credit: Jennifer Sparrowhawk

Equal parts open-hearted and bullshit intolerant, she’s been lighting up our little Saskatonian hearts since moving here from Creighton in 1998. I’m pleased to present musician, caregiver, joke writer, my pal Brenda Jackson.

“Where’s the worst place to hide in a hospital? ICU.”

KC: What kinds of projects are you involved in right now?

BJ: I play guitar and sing lead vocals in Quinzee Town, a band that covers Ween and sixties pop songs. I also drum in the Seahags, who have been on hiatus since our lead singer, Riki, moved to Toronto, but she’s coming back for June and we have a few shows lined up with MoSoFest and Pride. I can hardly wait! Nothing compares to playing in a band. It is hands down my favourite thing and I plan to keep doing it for as long as I’m able. The therapeutic benefits of music are undeniably appealing, and the relationships formed with band mates are a major bonus!

KC: What’s your day job? What do you like about it? What’s challenging?

BJ: My day job is in healthcare. I’m a nurse at St Paul’s and I do really love it, most of the time. I enjoy seeing direct results of helping someone. I love people and making connections with them. While I’ve luckily never been hospitalized, I’ve seen how it can be a terrifying experience or at least extremely uncomfortable, so it’s important for me to bring enjoyment to our patients, despite how challenging that can be. It’s usually small things like making toast or telling a joke, but I believe these small things make a significant difference in mood and overall health. Healthcare can be really dehumanizing, and I think that is the greatest challenge—to overcome the pressures of a flawed system and still treat patients like people.

KC: What’s important to you?

BJ: Being happy and doing good. I have struggled with depression and tend to get overwhelmed by the world’s problems, so it is important for me to stay healthy (emotionally, physically, spiritually) in order to give back. I almost always feel I’m not doing enough, like, for the world and for my community, so again, I try to acknowledge the small things that I am doing to make the world the better place. Like being helpful and kind to everyone. And staying informed about current events. And trying not to watch too much TV.

KC: What do you like most/least about Saskatoon?

BJ: I love the community here, especially among musicians. I volunteer with Girls Rock Camp Saskatoon, which has advanced this community by using music to empower female-identified youth…whom I happen to believe are part of any cities’ most vulnerable populations. I started playing music later in life, and I wonder what else I could have accomplished if I’d gotten an earlier start. Music, art, and performance are pretty powerful tools for self-awareness and expression, which have got to be helpful in making the world a better place!

What do I like least about this city? Aside from a few common complaints about transit and the need for better bike lanes, my greatest concern is how to achieve a safe and respectful city in the face of some seriously out-dated opinions on race, class, gender, and ability. I’m sure it’s a never-ending struggle to educate people about the world beyond their understanding, but sometimes… Yeesh! I could handle a little less of a struggle!

KC: What is your impression of Regina?

BJ: I love that place! Regina has always treated me well. I have some lovely friends there and being part of a band has definitely helped grow connections with people there. Once, after we played the German Club in Regina, I accidently brought the Seahags into the basement of the wrong house. It was late and I was…celebratory. We left as soon as we discovered my mistake but once we got to the right house, I realized I’d left my duffle bag there. I ended up having to return to Saskatoon the next day without it, but I eventually got it back thanks to the owners’ understanding, as well as the internet, and a kind friend who picked it up for me. Neko Case, Paul McCartney, and the storm at last year’s Regina Folk Fest are also cherished Regina memories.

(from the Proust Questionaire)
How would you like to die?

BJ: I think about this fairly often actually, probably because of my work. I’d prefer something quick that would leave my organs viable for transplantation. I feel like I could imagine being shot or stabbed, because I watch a lot of movies, and have a pretty good imagination. I read the other day that John Waters wishes he could die in a rollercoaster accident, which sounds kind of fantastic actually! I guess if I really had a say about it, I would pick plane crash. While there is something to be said about laying on your deathbed, I think I would rather just have a few moments to acknowledge that I’ve had a pretty good go of things.