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Local elder brings Ojibwe voice to big screen for iconic Disney film

Jeff Monague taking on role of Grand Moff Tarkin in Ojibwe version of Star Wars: A New Hope which will make its debut next month
Jeff Monague

A local First Nations elder is playing a role in bringing the Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe) language to an iconic film.

Jeff Monague, a former chief of Beausoleil First Nation on Christian Island, who used to teach the Ojibwe language with the Simcoe County District School Board and Georgian College, will voice antagonist Grand Moff Tarkin in the Ojibwe version of Star Wars: A New Hope.

The Ojibwe dub of the movie will debut Aug. 8 at the Centennial Concert Hall in Winnipeg. Starting Aug. 10, there will be a limited release in Winnipeg and other markets. Walt Disney Studios Canada is partnering with exhibitors in Winnipeg and other markets to offer free screenings for the community.

“The project brought together a wide range of talent and multigenerational Anishinaabe speakers to bring this version to life. The dubbing was done over a 10-day period in early May in Winnipeg with the final mix completed at Skywalker Sound,” Lucasfilm stated in a news release.

“The project is supported in part by the Government of Canada through the Indigenous Languages and Cultures Program from Canadian Heritage. Dougald Lamont helped launch this project in 2021 after proposing it to Pablo Hidalgo, a former Winnipegger and Lucasfilm executive as a language revitalization project in support of reconciliation.”

The Ojibwe dub was directed by Ellyn Stern Epcar and produced by Michael Kohn. It stars Aandeg Jedi Muldrew as Luke Skywalker, Ajuawak Kapashesit as Han Solo, Theresa Eischen as Princess Leia, Dennis Daminos Chartrand as Darth Vader, Dustin Gerald Morrow Aagimewikamig as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Tomantha Sylvester Nimi Anungo Kwe as C-3PO, Jeff Monague Myiingan Minaakwhe as Grand Moff Tarkin, John-Paul Chalykoff as Uncle Owen, and Wanda Barker Giwedinoonz as Aunt Beru.

Partners in the project include the Dakota Ojibway Tribal Council, the University of Manitoba, Disney/Lucasfilm, and APTN.

The film will debut on Disney+ and APTN at a future date.

Lucasfilm signed off on its news release with “Gi-ga-miinigoowiz Mamaandaawiziwin (May the Force be with you).”