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

Salmon Arm! Burly boxer of arcade game fame calls Shuswap community home

Bear Hugger is one of the opponents players face in 2009’s Punch Out!!! for the Nintendo Wii.

Eugene the goat feared taken from Shuswap community

Nigerian Dwarf goat may have been picked up by a motorist

Deaths on popular Shuswap trail ruled accidental

B.C. Coroners Service reports on fatal falls in May and July 2019

Update: Highway 1 between Salmon Arm and Sicamous partially reopens

Westbound traffic delayed as crews recover a vehicle

Potholes plentiful in Salmon Arm’s industrial park

City says patching effort underway, residents can report potholes on city’s website

UPDATE: Protesters say they will maintain blockade near Chase “as long as it takes”

Goal is to see RCMP removed from Wet’suwet’en territory

Petition seeks to remove local police department from Lindsay Buziak murder case

American woman starts online petition in hopes of helping Buziak family

Study says flu vaccine protected most people during unusual influenza season

Test-negative method was pioneered by the BC Centre for Disease Control in 2004

Saskatchewan and B.C. reach championship round at Scotties

British Columbia’s Corryn Brown locked up the last berth in Pool B

‘Chain reaction pile up’ closes southbound traffic on Coquihalla Highway

Black Press Media has reached out to RCMP, paramedics for details

Federal minister to speak in North Okanagan

Greater Vernon Chamber welcomes middle class prosperity minister to talk money

B.C. lawyer, professor look to piloting a mental-health court

In November, Nova Scotia’s mental-health court program marked 10 years of existence

EDITORIAL: Thoughtless posts to Facebook cause real harm and stress

At the risk of resembling a broken record, it needs to be… Continue reading

COLUMN: Not an expert on First Nations government structures? Then maybe you should calm down

Consider your knowledge about First Nations governance structures before getting really, really mad

Most Read