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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Central Okanagan schools ready to welcome students back

Students are set to go back to school next Monday, June 1

Van runs over fire hydrant, spraying water into West Kelowna mobile home park

The incident occurred around 5:40 p.m. near Boucherie Road

North and Central Okanagan on flood watch

Kalamalka Lake users are asked to take measure to reduce the risk… Continue reading

Okanagan-shot film “The Colour Rose” wins two cinematography awards

Locations in the Okanagan were used such as; The Casorso residence, BNA, Father Pandosy, Venture Academy and Idabel Lake Resort

B.C. legislature coming back June 22 as COVID-19 emergency hits record

Pandemic restrictions now longer than 2017 wildfire emergency

Houseboat company partly owned by Shuswap MLA withdraws controversial ad

The ad welcomed houseboaters from other provinces, contradicting anti COVID-19 measures.

Squabble between campers in North Shuswap leads to bear spraying

An argument over late night partying escalated into a fight which led to one person being sprayed

B.C.’s essential grocery, hardware store employees should get pandemic pay: retail group

Only B.C.’s social, health and corrections workers are eligible for top-ups

Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto vying to be NHL hubs, but there’s a catch

The NHL unveiled a return-to-play plan that would feature 24 teams

B.C. sees 9 new COVID-19 cases, one death as officials watch for new cases amid Phase Two

Number of confirmed active cases is at 244, with 37 people in hospital

Penticton may soon allow drinking alcohol in some public places

Trying to inconspicuously drink on the beach could become a thing of the past

VIDEO: Flowers stolen from Vernon distillery

Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery captured surveillance footage of the thief in a black car

Fundraiser launched for North Okanagan drive-in

Vernon resident seeks to raise $20K to save Starlight Drive-In

Most Read