LETTER: Ryga was a cultural prophet and literary activist

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

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
57 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

Thirty people in the region are in hospital, 16 of whom are in intensive care

Fun in Penticton is being promoted through banners going up along Main and Westminster. (Suzanne White Western News)
Banners go up in downtown celebrating fun in Penticton

From beach or biking time to dining or shopping, the banners promote things to do

George Ryga, considered by many as Canada’s most important English playwright lived in Summerland from 1963 until his death in 1987. He is the inspiration for the annual Ryga Arts Festival. (Contributed)
Summerland archive established for George Ryga

Renowned author wrote novels, poetry, stage plays and screen plays from Summerland home

Municipal crews are clearing sand from streets in Summerland. The street sweeping is expected to be completed by early June. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Summerland crews clearing sand from streets

Work expected to be completed by early June

A hummingbird gives its wings a rare rest while feeding in a North Okanagan garden. (Karen Siemens/North Okanagan Naturalists Club)
Hummingbirds back for another Okanagan season

North America’s littlest birds return, and they’re hungry

Jose Marchand prepares Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination doses at a mobile clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, in Montreal, Friday, April 30, 2021. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is coming under fire after contradicting the advice Canadians have been receiving for weeks to take the first vaccine against COVID-19 that they’re offered. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Trudeau says he is glad he got AstraZeneca, vaccines are only way out of pandemic

‘The most important thing is to get vaccinated with the first vaccine offered to you’

B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Dip in COVID-19 cases with 572 newly announced in B.C.

No new deaths have been reported but hospitalized patients are up to 481, with 161 being treated in intensive care

(Kingfisher Boats photo)
In the market for a boat in the North Okanagan? Be prepared to wait

Vernon’s Kingfisher Boats is out of 2021 models, with many 2022 models already pre-sold

Solar panels on a parking garage at the University of B.C. will be used to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen, the latter captured to supply a vehicle filling station. (UBC video)
UBC parkade project to use solar energy for hydrogen vehicles

Demonstration project gets $5.6M in low-carbon fuel credits

FILE – A student arrives at school as teachers dressed in red participate in a solidarity march to raise awareness about cases of COVID-19 at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. ‘should be able to’ offer 1st dose of COVID vaccine to kids 12+ by end of June: Henry

Health Canada authorized the vaccine for younger teens this morning

A woman in the Harrison Mills area was attacked by a cougar on Tuesday, May 4. B.C. Conservation Officers killed two male cougars in the area; the attack was determined to be predatory in nature. (File photo)
2 cougars killed following attack on woman in Agassiz area

Attack victim remains in hospital in stable condition

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. CDC updates info, acknowledging small respiratory droplets can spread COVID-19

Large droplets, not aerosols had been fixture of public health messaging for many months

Grizzly bear. (File)
Malakwa man bitten by grizzly bear on dog walk

The man and dogs were not seriously injured

Most Read