Alberta Cancer Foundation

Life in Focus

Ryley Richardson was inspired to support the Alberta Cancer Foundation after his friend and business partner’s experience with cancer 

By: Jaelyn Molyneux

Ryley Richardson, left, and Jordan Turko on a shoot together. Photograph courtesy Ryley Richardson.

“You leave all these ripples while you are here. You don’t know how you might affect an entire group of people just by a smile.”

Jordan Turko shared those reflections in December 2022 in an Alberta Cancer Foundation video about his cancer story. Ryley Richardson, his friend and business partner, was behind the camera.

As it turns out, Turko’s ripples changed Richardson’s life.

The two were high school friends and reunited more than a decade later. Turko, of Métis heritage, had recently launched his business with a particular interest in empowering Indigenous communities through strategy development and visual storytelling. He knew Richardson had a videography company and enlisted him to help. Indigenous individuals and communities across Western Canada hired them to tell their often-overlooked stories.

“We went on all these adventures,” says Richardson, who was then balancing a career in real estate with his passion for videography.

A few years into their partnership, in February 2022, they were in Fort Chipewyan, Alta., for National Language Day. Turko wasn’t feeling well and he couldn’t help with filming. Within weeks, he was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. He was only 30 years old. Targeted drug therapy gave him more time, so the pair could continue meeting with communities and filming, including being asked by Chiefs from across Treaty 6 to film the visit from Pope Francis in July 2022. 

Also in 2022, Richardson quit real estate and pursued videography full time. With Turko’s cancer experience now woven into his own life, Richardson expanded his filmmaking to include stories for the Alberta Cancer Foundation. He started with the video highlighting

Turko’s story and went on to profile doctors and capture stories of research and fundraising. His videos celebrate work that has been done in cancer care and research, and highlight the potential of work still to be done.

Turko’s cancer came back aggressively in January 2023. That September, Richardson went to the Cross Cancer Institute to hold his friend’s hand and say goodbye. 

Photograph courtesy Ryley Richardson.

The next day, Richardson was filming in the next room when Turko died, surrounded by friends and family. For Richardson, filming next door when Turko passed didn’t feel like a coincidence; it felt like a sign that he was doing what he was meant to be doing.  
 
“Jordan started it and we created the path together,” says Richardson. “He opened doors and allowed me to do my thing and walk through those doors.”

Richardson continues to create videos for the Alberta Cancer Foundation, to share stories and inspire others. It’s his way of creating ripples.
 
“It can be very vulnerable and uncomfortable to sit in front of cameras,” he says. “[But telling your story] can change other people’s lives.”

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