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Star Wars: The Force Awakens reunites brothers in Yellowknife

Star Wars has always been, at its heart, a tale of families. 

Without dipping into too many spoilers, anyone who saw the original trilogy will know that family matters when it comes to events in a galaxy far, far away.

Small wonder, then, that a Yellowknife family used the latest incarnation of Star Wars to stage an emotional reunification.

Sarah Kalnay-Watson was at the heart of a scheme to surprise her father on the opening night of Star Wars: The Force Awakens at Yellowknife’s Capitol Theatre on Friday. Here, she tells My Yellowknife Now the story.

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When the very first Star Wars movie came out, in 1977, I believe my father was in his early twenties.

His brother, my uncle Bart, was just a little boy of five or six – and my dad, Mike, asked his mom if he could take his little brother to see the movie.

“Sure,” she said, but what she didn’t know was that they lived in Belleville and the movie wasn’t playing there. Instead, Mike took Bart all the way to Toronto to see the show. That was a whole day-long experience and my dad got into a lot of trouble when he came home.

By the time the next trilogy of Star Wars movies came out, starting with The Phantom Menace in 1999, Bart had grown up and was in university. My dad and I were living up here in Yellowknife.

However, Mike thought it would be fun to continue the story of Star Wars with my uncle – so he flew all the way down to Toronto, and they went together to see The Phantom Menace.

Now, here we are – a whole bunch more years later – and the new Star Wars movie is coming out.

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My dad has told our family the story of him, his brother and Star Wars so many times that even my husband knows it. One day, when my dad was out of town, my husband said: “Wouldn’t it be great if we could get Uncle Bart up here to see the new Star Wars movie with your dad?”

Bart now lives in Cleveland, Ohio. But Star Wars is a big deal in our family. The sentiment behind the two brothers seeing these movies on opening night is something that both of them tell stories about.

When we first told Bart about our plan, he started telling me the same story. I’m like, “Bart, I already know this story. My dad tells it all the time.” But it’s nice to know they share the story and they can continue on this tradition.

So we talked to Bart about getting the time off, and then we pooled our money.

That is how it came to be that my dad’s younger brother showed up at his house with tickets to see the first showing of Star Wars at the Capitol Theatre.

Kalnays at Capitol Theatre
Bart and Mike Kalnay outside Yellowknife’s Capitol Theatre after the first showing of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. (Photo: Zoltan Kalnay.)

Because Bart now lives in Cleveland and we’re all the way up here in Yellowknife, they actually don’t see each other very often. When Bart’s flight landed early and he showed up on my dad’s doorstep, that was the first time in a long time that they had seen each other.

My dad was shocked and completely quiet. I think he was overwhelmed. A few days earlier, he had been thinking about flying down to Cleveland to surprise Bart.

He had no idea Bart would be coming up to do the same thing. That’s our Christmas present to him.

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