LETTER: Ryga was a cultural prophet and literary activist

George Ryga never gave up believing in a better world and his capacity to help

Dear Editor:

On Saturday, Aug. 24, I attended a wonderful event at the Centre Stage Theatre in Summerland named Celebration!, which recognized the many songs, plays, poems and more of one of Canada’s pioneering but controversial cultural voices, George Ryga.

The theatre was full of friends, storytellers, admirers, supporters, and a visible warmth that nurtured the evening from beginning to end.

As the host of the annual Ryga Arts Festival, Summerland has the distinct privilege to wrap its arms around the literary, political, and artistic contributions of George Ryga.

Ryga lived here from 1963 until his death in late 1987 at the age of 55, just weeks before he was to attend a prestigious invitation only literary event overseas.

READ ALSO: COLUMN: Reflecting on George Ryga’s legacy

READ ALSO: COLUMN: Much to enjoy at Ryga Arts Festival

There were several poignant moments during the evening, from the welcoming words of festival director Heather Davies and Coun. Doug Holmes who acknowledged our presence on unceded territory of the Syilx (Okanagan) people, to the humbling prayer offering from Sylix elder Richard Armstrong, who, it turns out, likes to make people laugh.

Next was a heart-felt reflection from Joan Phillip about the important role George Ryga played in identifying a Canadian landscape struggling to build healthy relationships with First Nations people.

A long-time friend of Ryga, Dick Clements stepped onto the stage with purpose and focus to read Ryga’s poems with a genuine youthful zeal and inviting audience participation.

I wanted to shout, “Encore.”

Before the intermission, there was a screening of the award-winning short documentary, Just a Ploughboy, revealing the humbling farming life of Ryga’s early years in Alberta, often working alongside Indigenous men, which was instrumental in stirring his passion for social justice.

After intermission, an impressive caliber of actors and singers performed monologues, songs, and novel readings with passion and conviction.

As the show unfolded, my admiration grew for the breadth and depth of Ryga’s talent, as well as his struggle for truth, his commitment to social justice, and his belief in humanity.

He never gave up believing in a better world and his capacity to help.

In his last poem titled, Resurrection, Ryga argued for his survival to fight against the world’s injustice with the refrain, “I have not done enough!”

George Ryga was seen by many as a visionary, and this festival is a short but meaningful venue for locals and visitors to embrace the poet and activist.

If you can’t make any of the scheduled events during the festival this year, put the festival on your calendar for next year, and until then, I highly recommend reading his biography or one of his many brilliant literary works.

Nada Hildebrand

Summerland

To report a typo, email:
news@summerlandreview.com
.



news@summerlandreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Multiple crashes, including a bus, plague Highway 97

Thursday’s evening commute in Kelowna slowed by collisions

Health minister announces new urgent care centre in Kelowna

Adrian Dix made the annoucment Thursday at the Capri Centre

Provincial Mobile Medical Unit makes an appearance in Kelowna

The high tech hospital on wheels provides medical care for rural communities and during emergencies

Special Olympics fundraiser comes to downtown Kelowna

motionball Marathon of Sport kicks-off in City Park Saturday

Private sector development will create housing affordability: Wilkinson

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkenson spoke in Kelowna during a real estate conference

VIDEO: Trudeau asks Canada to look to current, not past, actions on race

Liberal leader says he never spoke about the racist photo because he was embarrassed

Legislature gifts, clothing, travel need better control, B.C. auditor says

Audit follows suspensions of managers by Speaker Darryl Plecas

‘Really disturbing:’ Trudeau’s racist photos worry B.C. First Nation chief

Wet’suwet’en Chief concerned the photos will sow fear in Indigenous communities

‘Unacceptable’: What politicians have to say about Trudeau in blackface

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi: ‘When I saw that picture last night, certainly it was a sucker-punch’

‘He’s trying to kill me’: Victoria police commandeer boats to reach screaming woman

No charges laid and civilians to be awarded honours after incident on Gorge Waterway

South Okanagan driver held at gunpoint, car-jacked on East Side Road

Penticton RCMP are asking for the public to keep an eye out for the suspect, stolen vehicle

VIDEO: Tempers flare during Sagmoen’s police interview

Defence lawyer says statements made by accused Curtis Sagmoen should be deemed inadmissible

Cross-Canada cyclist riding for sobriety makes next B.C. stop

BMX biker Mat Fee stopped during the final leg of his charity bike ride in Sicamous

John Horgan promises action after fatal mid-Island bus crash

Premier cites students, local Indigneous community as reason to repair the road

Most Read