By Jeremy Appel, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
(ANNews) – An Ojibwe version of Star Wars: A New Hope could be coming soon to a theatre near you.
On Dec. 18, the Dakota Ojibway Tribal Council and University of Manitoba announced that they’ve entered a partnership with Disney/Lucasfilm and APTN to create an official Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe) version of the first Star Wars film.
Auditions for voice actors will occur in Winnipeg in early-2024, where script translations and sound recording will also take place.
Sound mixing and post-production will happen at Skywalker Sound near Nicasio, California.
The finished film is intended to have a limited theatrical run across Canada and air on APTN following its Winnipeg premiere.
Maeengan Linklater, director of operations for Dakota Ojibway, is overseeing the project as its lead.
In a news release from APTN announcing the project riddled with Star Wars references, Linklater called the film “an exciting project that seeks to restore the Anishinaabe language to the galaxy.”
This is the second time A New Hope, which first introduced audiences to Luke Skywalker, Princess Leah, Han Solo, Chewbacca and Darth Vader in 1977, has been translated into an Indigenous language.
A decade ago, LucasFilm produced a Navajo translation of the film, which LucasFilm manager Michael Kohn called “a highlight of my career.”
Ojibwe was selected this time because it has around 320,000 speakers in Canada and the U.S. It’s the most commonly spoken Indigenous language in Ontario, Manitoba and Minnesota.
Cary Miller, the associate VP of Indigenous scholarship, research and curriculum at the University of Manitoba likened Indigenous language to the Force in the Star Wars films in how it “surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds our communities and cultures together.”
“Projects like this that make our language more accessible are foundationally important to encouraging our youth to carry on our knowledge — including that of science and technology — which are embedded in our Anishinaabe language,” Miller added.
Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge called A New Hope “one of the most iconic movies of all time.”
Translating the film into Ojibwe, St-Onge said, “will help showcase this language to the world.”
“It is my hope that this is just the beginning of many projects where stories are made available in First Nations, Métis and Inuit languages,” she added.
Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal called the project part of an effort “to remedy the damage that colonization has caused to Indigenous languages.”
“Projects like this are crucial to revitalizing Indigenous languages and bringing them to new audiences so Indigenous Peoples can see themselves and their languages have a place at home and in a galaxy far, far away,” said Vandal.
For more information on the project, and to sign up for a voice audition, visit https://starwarsojibwe.com/.