The George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature
Initiated by The George Ryga Society, BC BookWorld, CBC Radio (Kelowna) and Okanagan College, this annual literary prize is awarded to a B.C. writer who has achieved an outstanding degree of social awareness in a new book published in the preceding calendar year.
A shortlist is generally released before the winner is announced. Excerpts from shortlisted titles have been aired on CBC Kelowna’s Daybreak Program. The award has been announced in conjunction with a concert on George Ryga’s birthday, July 27th, but event plans can change from year to year. Winners have received advertisements in BC BookWorld and a commemorative sculpture by Reg Kienast.
In 2003, Vancouver writer Maggie de Vries won the first Ryga Award for her memoir Missing Sarah (Penguin Canada) about her sister who went missing on the Downtown Eastside.
In 2004, the late Robert Hunter’s book, The Greenpeace to Amchitka: An Environmental Odyssey (Arsenal Pulp Press) received the award. It was presented to Robert Hunter’s widow in a gala performance (and a Greenpeace Crew reunion) hosted by CBC’s Paul Grant and featuring Jazz Legends P.J. Perry, Tommy Banks and Mike Lent in Vernon’s Performing Arts Centre on George Ryga’s birthday.
In 2005, the winning book was In Plain Sight: Reflections On Life In Downtown Eastside Vancouver (Talonbooks), edited by Leslie Robertson and Dara Culhane. Information about subsequent winning titles is available elsewhere on this site.