Creator of Wapos Bay to receive Distinguished Alumni Award

By Costa Maragos Posted: September 25, 2015 6:00 a.m.

Dennis Jackson, shown in his studio, created the popular TV series Wapos Bay.
Dennis Jackson, shown in his studio, created the popular TV series Wapos Bay. Photo courtesy of Dennis Jackson.

The Department of Film has awarded its Distinguished Alumni Award to Dennis Jackson, the creator of the popular television series Wapos Bay.

The award presentation will be celebrated September 26, at The Artesian on 13th in Regina where Jackson will also present an animation master class.

“I was very surprised when I heard about this. It certainly cheered me up that day,” says Jackson, who lives in Prince Albert.

Jackson graduated from the University of Regina with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film Production in 1998.

His first post-film school project was the award winning “Journey Through Fear” which was presented at the 1998 Banff Television Festival.

Jackson and his wife Melanie Jackson then started work on the stop-motion animated film, Christmas at Wapos Bay, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2002.

“This was before computer software. We were pretty well shooting this blind. We had no real-time playback,” says Jackson who was quick to point out that he had help on the project from his former film professor Gerald Saul.

Saul was the Director of Photography on that project.

“We had a lot of fun working together on that project. He really encouraged me to explore filmmaking. We still stay in touch,” says Jackson. “Everyone in the film department was willing to help me. There was always encouragement and a special camaraderie.. “

Christmas at Wapos Bay was developed into the popular TV series Wapos Bay, which ran for five seasons.

It told stories of First Nation children and their families living in the fictional Northern Saskatchewan Community of Wapos Bay. The series won numerous awards and was broadcast in Cree, English, French and Inuk.

Jackson is from the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation.

“I was inspired from the stories that my mom told me about my grandpa raising 22 kids on trap lines,” says Jackson. “My inspiration has always been from my mother, all of my relations up in Sandy Bay, particularly my Moshum and Kokum, their life is just inspiring to me,” says Jackson, who was the film department’s unanimous choice for the award.

“Dennis Jackson just represents everything we hope our graduates will be,” says Mark Wihak, who is Head of the Film Department at the U of R. “Dennis and Wapos Bay are a really inspiring example of what can be done in Saskatchewan when you tell stories that mean something. We're very proud of Dennis' accomplishments, and that he's a graduate of our program.”
 
Jackson’s success means he can inspire a new generation of Saskatchewan filmmakers.

Event:      Distinguished Alumni Award
Date:       Saturday, September 26.
Time:       7 p.m.
Location:  Artesian on 13th – 2627 13th Ave.

For more information please contact mark.wihak@uregina.ca