Natives of Fuga speak out

Karie Garnier has a very strange story to tell. He will be showing his documentary, The Silent Natives of Fuga, and telling a true story about the curse of ancient burial jars during an appropriate time, the new moon and solar eclipse this Sunday, Nov. 3.

The inspirational speaker, film-maker and artist has worked with Aboriginal elders for 31 years and credits his own healing to his association with Cherokee medicine man, Rolling Thunder.

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The presentation at the Raven's Cry Theatre in Sechelt is the first in a series titled Building Bridges. (The second film on an Aboriginal theme will be screened on Dec. 8.)

This Sunday, Garnier will show his 46-minute documentary, filmed on the mysterious island of Fuga, north of the Philippines.

"Many historians and anthropologists had never heard of Fuga," Garnier said.

It was kept private, the hideaway of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos. The Aboriginal population, 2,000 Ilocanos, were brutally oppressed for decades, Garnier reports, and they live in shacks with no electricity or running water.

Garnier first became involved with the lives of these people when he married a Philippina who is a descendent of the Fuga people. He was immediately drawn to this place he calls sacred. Access to the island was difficult, so there was no opportunity to bring in a film crew. Garnier visited as a tourist with only a camera, and he came to know some of the Aboriginal people living in six villages. His dream is to bring attention to the plight of the people until land rights are secured and Fuga is declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.

At the presentation, Garnier also plans to tell a true story about the ancient burial jars that he unearthed on the island. He ignored the warnings of natives not to touch the sacred objects and he has found that troubles have followed him ever since. Shards of the burial jars will be available for viewing at the theatre and Garnier will describe his efforts to return them.

Garnier, who makes his home base near Shuswap, has been feeling at home on the Coast lately while working with another local filmmaker. As a photographer, he has used his portraits of elders to create two exhibitions, one showcased at Expo '86 and another at the Museum of Anthropology.

Vibrant, colourful artwork by the artist will be featured in the lobby of Raven's Cry, and proceeds from box office and art sales will go to help the Fuga natives fulfill their goal.

The presentation begins at 2 p.m. and there will be time for discussion with the audience. Tickets are $15, available at the door or by purchasing in advance at the Raven's Cry Theatre.

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