Film-Fest Preview: Spirit Doctors

A simple, highly spiritual documentary about the world of native medicine, Spirit Doctors offers heartfelt insight into the nature of aboriginal healing. It’s a well thought-out story that brings together two completely opposite worlds: the modern hospital medicine of Vancouver and the vast expanse of native spiritual healing prevalent in the Similkameen Valley. It allows a glimpse of native healing before modernization, and how the ‘old ways’ can still be used today.

Filmmaker Marie Burke travels to the Similkameen Valley in an effort to reconnect with her own cultural roots, while exploring the practices, values and spiritual doctrines of aboriginal healing.

The irony occurus when the film’s sound engineer Don Howell develops throat cancer and makes the decision to allow native spirit doctors Mary and Ed Louie to supplement his modern medical treatment program. Tracking the ancient methods and interactions between Don and the Louies, the film allows a rare peek into ancient native methods in action. These practices include treatments with eagle feathers, natural roots and berries, sweat lodge ceremonies and chanting. Mary and Ed Louie agreed to film Don’s healing events, even though the ceremonies are usually considered too sacred to be shared with the outside world. They seek to better educate those who remain unaware of native healing approaches.

Spirit Doctors is a slow-paced invitation to become better aquainted with aboriginal healing through the eyes of genuine native healers. Forsaking alcohol, drugs and family, the spiritual connections, native philosophies and practices employed by these dedicated individuals offer alternatives to modern medicine not commonly understood outside of aboriginal cultures.

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