Cam Boyce studied jazz violin at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton and currently resides on Vancouver Island. He has studied Eastern European and Balkan music extensively and has travelled Europe many times on his musical journey. Most recently, he scored the music for Serbian independent film Kommunistizki Raj. He also fronts Fanfare, his own one-man band looping act.
Joanna Chiu is a senior journalist for the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest newspaper, and has previously served as bureau chief of the Star Vancouver. Her book, China Unbound, launching Sept. 28, features engaging on-the-ground reporting chronicling China’s dramatic moves to become a dominant global power, with accompanying human rights abuses around the world.
She is the founder and chair of the NüVoices editorial collective, which celebrates the creative and academic work of women working on the subject of China.
Chiu was previously based for seven years in Beijing and in Hong Kong as a foreign correspondent, including for Agence France Presse (AFP) specializing in coverage of Chinese politics, economy and legal affairs for one of the world’s biggest news operations.
She has also served as China and Mongolia correspondent for the top German news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur, and in Hong Kong, she reported for the South China Morning Post, The Economist magazine and The Associated Press.
Corinna Chong lives in Kelowna, BC, traditional and unceded territory of the Syilx/Okanagan people, where she writes, edits, designs, and teaches in the English department at Okanagan College. She has a BA in English and BFA in Fine Arts from the University of Calgary, as well as an MA in English and Creative Writing from the University of New Brunswick.
Her first novel, Belinda’s Rings, was published by NeWest Press in 2013 to strong reviews, and was highlighted as an “offbeat summer read” in The Globe and Mail. She has also published reviews and short fiction in literary magazines across Canada, including Room, The Humber Literary Review, The Malahat Review, and Grain. Her short story, “Kids in Kindergarten,” won the 2021 CBC Short Story Prize. She recently completed her second novel, Bad Land, and is now working on a collection of short stories entitled Porcelain Legs.
Corinna is also committed to engaging in the writing community, especially through guiding and mentoring emerging writers. Over the years she has served on several editorial boards for literary magazines, including Qwerty and The Fiddlehead. She teaches introductory creative writing as well as applied publishing courses as part of Okanagan College’s Writing and Publishing Diploma program, and she is currently the Director for the English department’s student-run literary journal, rygajournal.ca, which honours the legacy of George Ryga.
Moira Dann is a writer, editor, speaker, and current president of the Craigdarroch Castle Museum Society board. She has a Master of Fine Arts in creative non-fiction from the University of King’s College and is a former editor of the Globe & Mail‘s Facts and Arguments page. She lives with her husband, Sam Bufalini, in Victoria, BC.
Juan Pablo Gonzalez
Juan Pablo Gonzalez studied classical music before moving to Canada, where he earned a degree in visual arts from Alberta College of Art and Design. Since arriving in British Columbia, he has studied upright bass with legendary Romanian violinist Lache Cercel and regularly performs in the music scene in Vancouver.
Leah Hrycun is a PhD Student who has spent most of her life in Amiskwaciwâskahikan (amisk-wa-chi-was-ga-hi-gan), also known as Edmonton. She is a third generation Ukrainian Canadian who also shares German and Jewish ancestry. Her research interests include Métis histories, material culture, repatriation, land settlement and dispossession, settler-colonialism, and white settler supremacy on the prairies.
Her past research has focused on Métis histories of the prairies, and working with Métis in Alberta and the Métis Nation of Alberta to advance self-determination through material culture repatriation. Her current research seeks to recover narratives of Indigenous-Ukrainian relations in east central Alberta in the hope that it will open dialogues surrounding the shared histories of these lands and address why so few
historians consider the presence of Indigenous peoples and land in Ukrainian Canadian histories. By recovering these histories and deconstructing how and why Ukrainian settlers came to support Canadian settler-colonialism, she hopes to redresses Indigenous erasure in Ukrainian settler histories and ultimately provide space for Ukrainian Canadians to move toward being in good relation with the Cree, Nakota, Métis and other Indigenous peoples who also call central Alberta home.
Brian Thomas Isaac
Brian Thomas Isaac was born in 1950 on the Okanagan Indian Reserve, situated in south central British Columbia. He and his wife have one son and three grandchildren. All the Quiet Places is Brian’s first book.
Brian Isaac’s powerful debut novel All the Quiet Places is the coming-of-age story of Eddie Toma, an Indigenous (Syilx) boy, told through the young narrator’s wide-eyed observations of the world around him.
All the Quiet Places is the story of what can happen when every adult in a person’s life has been affected by colonialism; it tells of the acute separation from culture that can occur even at home in a loved familiar landscape. Its narrative power relies on the unguarded, unsentimental witness provided by Eddie.
Originally from Israel, Dan Kehila is affectionately dubbed "the Thelonius Monk" of Accordion by his bandmates. A master of the waltz and a unique ear for uncommon melodies, Dan adds an incredible flavour to any group he is a part of. He also performs with duo Billie's Holiday with his wife Jenni.
Aaron Loewen is a hot jazz and gypsy swing guitarist from Summerland, BC. Classically trained in piano as a youth, he studied with renowned gypsy jazz musician Denis Chang in Montreal. He has studied and performed with many of the masters throughout BC and beyond and is a regular in the music scene in the Okanagan and Vancouver.
Lupick previously spent 10 years as a staff reporter for the Georgia Straight newspaper in Vancouver. He has also written about drug addiction, harm reduction, and mental health for the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Review of Books, Vice Magazine, Toronto Star, and Globe and Mail, among others.
For his reporting on Canada’s opioid crisis, Lupick received the Canadian Association of Journalists’ prestigious Don McGillivray award for best overall investigative report of 2016. For Fighting for Space, he received the 2018 George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature and nominations for the 2018 B.C. Book Award and City of Vancouver Book Award.
He has also worked as a journalist in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Malawi, Nepal, Bhutan, Peru, and Honduras.
Ahmad Meree is an actor and playwright born in Aleppo, Syria. He is a graduate from the Higher Institute of Theatre Arts in Cairo. Winner of an emerging artist award at Arts Awards Waterloo Region (2019) and the Best Actor Award at the Central Theatre Festival in Syria (2008), he directed Ionesco’s The Lesson in Egypt and won Best Director Award for directing Chekhov’s The Bear at Cairo’s Festival of International Theatre (2013). Ahmad came to Canada as a refugee in 2016 and currently lives in Kitchener, ON, where he works with MT Space as artistic associate, facilitator and co-director of their Young Company. Ahmad has written three plays, Suitcase (2019), Adrenaline (2017) which he toured to the Ryga Festival in Summerland, BC, Summerworks Performance Festival in Toronto and UNO Fest in Victoria, BC, also Adrenaline was nominated for Dora outstanding touring production, and Underground (2014) (Winner of Best Original Script in the University competition).
Pharis and Jason Romero
From the Pharis and Jason Romero website:
Pharis and Jason are a sentimental anchoring, and the perfect antidote to this sped-up life. Some scratchy old records and a custom banjo led to their meeting in 2007, and they quickly knew they were in for the long haul. They've since released six records, toured all over, won two Juno awards and multiple Canadian Folk Music Awards, and performed on A Prairie Home Companion and CBC's The Vinyl Cafe.
The sound of their two voices together is quietly show-stopping. The songs are inspired by the world the Romeros live in and the lifestyle they choose, with a powerful dose of the early country and folk they so dearly love. Balancing a bustling boutique banjo business and two young kids with the busy life of active musicians, and the balancing act itself becomes an art form.
They are passionate teachers and folk music lovers; Pharis is Artistic Director for Voice Works, (a workshop for singers) and Jason teaches all styles of banjo playing, especially old-time three finger playing.
Their newest record Bet On Love follows up on 2018’s Sweet Old Religion (also produced by Marc Jenkins) - which won a 2019 Juno Award, two Canadian Folk Music 2018 Awards, was the #1 most played record of 2018 on Stingray Folk-Roots, and was included on a bunch Best of 2018 Lists. Their 2015 A Wanderer I'll Stay was called "sublime" (NPR) and "brilliant" (BBC), and won a 2016 Juno Award and a Western Canadian Music Award; the title track was 2015's #1 most-played song on the Folk-DJ Charts.
Bet On Love (2020) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynK8zwgTd7w Sweet Old Religion (2018)
A Wanderer I’ll Stay (2015)
Long Gone Out West Blues (2013)
A Passing Glimpse (2011)
Back Up & Push - Jason & Pharis Romero and Friends (2010)
Shout Monah - The Haints Old Time Stringband (2009)
A fixture in the local arts community in Kelowna, Dylan Ranney is a versatile visual artist and drummer. He performs with many of the Okanagan's most popular acts including Swamp Honey and Leila Neverland. His groove and swing finds itself right at home in gypsy jazz music.
Sergei Ryga, “Twelve Ravens for the Sun” composer and arranger:
Sergei is active in the Kelowna, BC music scene as producer, composer, recording engineer, educator, and performer.
His band, Blues City Trio has played across BC for twelve years. He plays piano and sax, and recently added bass to his repertoire. He is active as a studio musician on multiple local productions. In 2019 he formed the band Primary Colours with drummer Dan Marcelino and his son Shae Ryga on guitar and vocals. They continue to be sought after at festivals and live events throughout the Okanagan.
Full-length compositions include Penumbra, a modern-day musical approach to Romeo and Juliet, which premiered in Kelowna.
Highlights in his music education include a master’s in curriculum development, including the development of education courses in composition.
As a music educator, his compositions and arrangements serve as study material from which his students learn the art of stylistic integration, chordal theory, and modern arranging techniques. Many of his students have gone on to pursue composition at university and in the professional music field.
Barry Bilinsky is a professional theatre practitioner of Metis/Cree and Ukrainian heritage. He has worked as a performing artist, technical/production manager, and theatre director across Alberta, with recent credits centred around Indigenous arts and collaborations.
Primarily, Barry focuses on creating work with diverse communities through various art disciplines. He studied English and Theatre at the University of Alberta, attaining a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2012.
Barry is an Artistic Associate with Alberta Aboriginal Performing Arts, as well as having been involved in The Making Treaty 7 Cultural Society, Iiniistsi Treaty Arts Society (REDx Talks), Akpik Theatre, and other companies in Edmonton and Calgary.
A Bush Cree woman originally from Wabasca, Alberta, Darlene has made Edmonton home; she has two daughters; Fawn and Kîstin. Darlene is an educator, actress, singer, award winning author and a holistic practitioner. She is an accomplished facilitator, having presented locally, nationally, and abroad.
Darlene holds a Psychology Degree from the University of Alberta with a minor in Drama, and a Doctoral Degree from the University Nuhelotine Thayotsi Nistameyimakanak Blue Quills in “Iyiniw Pimâtisiwin Kiskeyihtamowin”: Indigenous Life Knowledge in Health and Well-Being.
Darlene’s connection to Shumka began when she was cast as Kohkum in Ancestors & Elders which premiered in Edmonton’s Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium in Fall of 2018. Darlene also acted as the Cree Language & Cultural Consultant on the production.
Currently, Darlene is a member of the Shumka Board of Directors.
Joseph Hoffman is an experienced dance instructor, writer, choreographer, and director. He has worked with performing studios around Alberta in a wide variety of disciplines, and has spent the last four years developing original work as a co-founder of Kinda Epic Productions.
Joseph started as a dancer with Avrova Ukrainian Dancers in 1996, before moving on to Shumka in 2010. While training as a dancer, he pursued a degree in kinesiology at the University of Alberta which he received in 2015. Joseph’s background as a dancer, paired with his specialization in physiology and coaching, have made him an authority on dance education.
During his time at Shumka, Joseph took on numerous roles, including positions on Shumka’s Wellness Committee and as Artistic Associate on Shumka’s Artistic Team. In 2016, he spearheaded Seniors Can Shumka, a new program bringing both the cultural knowledge and fitness benefits of Ukrainian dance to older generations.
Mark Leiren-Young's plays have been produced throughout North America and also staged in Europe and Australia. His comedy, Bar Mitzvah Boy was long-listed for the 2021 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour and has been seen throughout Canada and the US. His plays have been produced throughout North America and also staged in Europe and Australia. Shylock has been translated into French, Czech and Dutch.