Thanks to the generosity of two Okanagan College donors, a local author who achieved national recognition as a social justice playwright is being commemorated through a new award that encourages students to promote social justice in the Okanagan.
Two annual awards valued at $1,000 each have been established in memory of George Ryga, a renowned Canadian playwright and novelist whose work explored complex issues of race, class, wealth, opportunity, privilege, and social structures in Canada.
The fund was established by Ryga’s sister and brother-in-law, Anne and Ted Chudyk, and is open to Okanagan College students interested in creating awareness around social issues.
“This award is meant to inspire students to follow in George’s footsteps, but they need not be writers," explains Anne Chudyk. "It is more important that they demonstrate a strong interest in promoting social justice in some way that will benefit the community.”
Ryga shot to fame in Canadian literary and theatre circles after the publication of his award-winning work The Ecstacy of Rita Joe, in 1967. The play, written at his home in Summerland.
“George Ryga established a high standard of social commentary in Canadian literary and theatrical works,” says Dr. Robert Huxtable, Okanagan College’s Dean of Arts and Foundational Programs. “We’re very proud to celebrate his legacy through these awards and hope students will be inspired to follow the example set by a local author who had an immense effect in raising awareness of social justice issues in Canada.”
More information about the Anne and Ted Chudyk Fund in Memory of George Ryga, and how it will benefit students, is available in the press release.