George Ryga first found national fame

When CBC television produced his play, “Indian” and soon two of his novels were published in England. Most of Ryga’s creative output originated from his home in Summerland, including The Ecstasy of Rita Joe, which was published to critical acclaim in 1967 and remains the best-selling Canadian play of all time.

George Ryga

George Ryga, born in 1932, grew up in poverty in a Ukrainian farming community near Athabasca. Despite leaving school at 13, he won a scholarship to the Banff School of Fine Arts with one of his early stories. In 1963, he moved to Summerland with his family, where he wrote his most famous work, "The Ecstasy of Rita Joe," which shed light on Indigenous issues. The play gained national attention and was performed at the opening of the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. Ryga is remembered for modernizing Canadian theater