Yukon UFO Workshop
October 16, 2000
Conference Room#4 Westmark Whitehorse
Peter Davenport, Director, National UFO Reporting Center, Seattle
Martin Jasek, Yukon UFO Researcher, UFO*BC Yukon Representative
Stanton T. Friedman, Nuclear Physicist, UFO Lecturer, Fredericton, New Brunswick
Loraine Bretlyn, Yukon UFO Researcher, Independent participant
Colette Opper, UFO Witness
Dave Pengilly, Director of UFO*BC, UFO Researcher
Graham Conway, President of UFO*BC, UFO/ Abductee Investigator
Helen Neufeld, Chartered Psychologist, Edmonton, Alberta
Lindsay Staples, Facilitator
Aileen Horler, Recorder
Unable to attend Representatives for:
DND (Department of National Defence)
Northern Science Institute
Village of Carmacks
Town of Dawson City
Town of Faro
Village of Haines Junction
Village of Mayo
Village of Teslin
Town of Watson Lake
City of Whitehorse
Carcross/Tagish First Nation
Champagne/Aishihik First Nation
Dease River First Nation
Kluane First Nation
Kwanlin Dun First Nation
Liard River First Nation
Lower Post First Nation
Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation
Na-Cho Ny'a'k Dun First Nation
Ross River Dena Council First Nation
Selkirk First Nation
Ta'an Kwach'an Council
Taku River Tlingits
Teslin Tlingit Council
Tr'on dek Hwech'in First Nation
Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation
White River First Nation
Footnote: It came as a surprise to many of those present that not one representative of government or a government agency was able to attend the workshop. This was even more striking when contrasted with the tremendous interest shown by citizens (304 participants) at the UFO Conference that was held two days prior.
One of the items on the workshop agenda was for the UFO researchers and witnesses to illustrate the reality of the UFO phenomenon to governments and government agencies. Since their representatives were absent, a short discussion ensued to assess if it was worthwhile to go ahead with the workshop. It was decided that the group could still partake in a discussion that would generate a useful document that could be used to help attain the original goals.
Lindsay Staples opened the workshop by welcoming all the participants. The goals of the workshop were reviewed and stated as:
Long Term Goal
Acceptance of UFO study as a legitimate field of enquiry by society and main stream science
Short Term Goal
Establishing an environment of trust, respect and cooperation between witnesses, civilian investigators, and government agencies that will encourage witnesses to present their accounts and reports
Participants introduced themselves by giving their background in UFO research and investigation, and the reasons they became involved. In presenting their individual experiences and interests a number of important questions arose which the group agreed needed to be addressed.
- How to integrate the apparent reality of UFOs within a society and institutions that have evolved in an environment which excludes the phenomenon?
- How can we build an environment of trust in the Yukon so that people will come forward with their observations?
- What can be done to assist witnesses?
- How can communication with government and government agencies be improved?
- How can reporting of information to UFO investigators be improved?
- What is official reporting and how does it meet expectations?
- Do we want to be collecting information or investigating?
- What should we propose to government to do about sightings?
- How can the needs of the witness and investigator to understand and report be met?
Discussions throughout the morning session were focused on the questions raised above. Comments, suggestions and further questions that arose are summarized according to the following themes and concerns:
- There is still a great need to occupy the field of credibility through good communications.
- It is important to focus on what is relevant. UFOs that cant be explained conventionally are what matter. It is important to stand up for what you believe. This includes professional people and witnesses. Although there appears to be great interest, there is unwillingness among professional people to get involved due to their perception of potential ridicule from their peers. There is a lot of support but it is difficult to get people to standup and be recognised. Why would a witness come forward if a professional wont?
- There are investigators that are often not knowledgeable of the data.
- 70-90% of the time, UFOs can be explained as conventional aircraft, military aircraft, natural or astronomical phenomenon. How do we deal with those explainable events without ignoring the real UFO events?
- Who gets believed and why? It must be stressed that people from all walks of life (not just professional people) can provide important contributions to understand this phenomenon.
- An incident has more credibility if reported in mainstream or national media than on local stations or in local newspapers.
- Until recently (1994) the National Research Council (NRC) collected reports in Canada. The NRC no longer collects information. This has meant a loss of credibility.
Meeting the Needs of Witnesses
- The ridicule factor is a big problem. There is a fear of rejection and fear of being labeled as crazy. But at same time, the witness must deal with a major adjustment of his or her concept of reality as a result of their UFO sighting.
- Abduction/interaction cases are large scale. Many people have had these experiences and it is very difficult for them. There is a need to make other people aware of this reality.
- People dont know what to do when they have had an encounter. There is no place to go, no one to talk to. They cant go to a medical professional. Very few professionals know how to handle such a situation. Some people cant lead normal lives. They need help with their experiences. How can we open this up?
- It is important to take people who have had an experience seriously. Then assess what may or may not have happened. It is important to remove the ridicule factor. Sometimes the person working for the government agency may be afraid of ridicule just for taking the call or having his/her name associated with a UFO report.
- How can things be improved for witnesses? Give them support, give them credibility and refer them to a professional.
- What can the individual do if they have a sighting? What can they do once they have reported it? What about referring them to people who can help them deal with their experience. There needs to be a list of people willing to help, like there is in the USA. Psychologist organizations could be contacted to try to develop a list of psychologists willing to help witnesses. An exchange of information of who is helping in other places would be very helpful.
- The sooner people receive assistance to try and understand their experience the better it is for them. Some people do not talk about their experience for decades or sometimes never, despite the fact the experience has a profound effect on them.
Improving Media Relations
- It is important to develop good relationships with the media in order to get good press coverage. This allows the media to call on people (investigators/experts) who are credible when the need arises. Investigators and researchers need to establish themselves as the people to be contacted for information. This relationship with the media cant be developed after the fact (after the UFO sighting gets first reported to the press).
- Write letters to media thanking them for coverage
- There is a big difference in the response between a local or regional paper and the national press. It is often possible to get support from local media but not national.
- One big problem with attracting press/media is that many reporters do not approach the UFO issue in a serious minded way.
Educating and Informing
- The attitude about coming forward is affected by what people will think and that they won't be believed. Most of the population believes but this isnt recognised.
- UFO investigators have a responsibility to become aware of scholarly works and to make others (including skeptics) aware of these as well.
- It is important to promote the awareness of the issue through the media and on the Internet.
- People need to know what to do if they see a UFO. A series of articles in the paper outlining what to do would be very helpful.
Recognizing the Phenomenon
- We need to alert the authorities to the extent of the real phenomenon and encourage them to be open and sensitive to witnesses and their experiences.
- It has to be recognised that there are many people with an interest in UFOs, the surrounding issues, as well as the consequences of their reality. But it is difficult to get together and make some headway on issues.
- Incidences of official recognition of UFOs include:
- university and college courses on UFOs
- "Fire Officers Guide to Disaster Control" by Kramer & Bahame, devotes a chapter that deals with real or perceived enemy attack that includes UFOs
- The Belgian government conducted open briefings and provided data to the civilian population regarding a wave of UFO sightings in Belgium that occurred in 1989 and 1990.
- The Chilean government holds regular meetings between military and civilian UFO investigators to discuss UFO sightings and exchange information.
- The French COMETA report published in July 1999 by highly prominent and retired government and military officials recognized that UFOs are probably extraterrestrial and a recommendation that a global response is called for.
- The extent of occurrences needs to be openly acknowledged. Providing information to the public and government on the number of incidences reported by citizens in general, air traffic controllers, pilots and other professional people would contribute to the recognition of the phenomenon.
- Reports from several government sources are now collected by Transport Canada Aviations Operations.
- When recording an occurrence there is a need to get as much information as possible as quickly as possible. It may not be possible to get it later when people become more reluctant to talk about what happened. If people are given the opportunity under safe circumstances they will be willing to talk. If a witness is treated fairly then others will feel they will be treated this way too.
- Sometimes an agency person taking the call may allow their non-belief in UFOs to affect how they respond to the caller. The tendency may be to brush callers off or not to take them seriously. They may not file or forward a report at all.
- In the USA, many people are directed to the National UFO reporting center by various agencies. It would be beneficial to post Canadian sighting information to the National Reporting Center as well to help correlate cross border sighting events.
- Those taking the reports need to take the reporter seriously and direct them to the proper agency for follow up.
- Government agencies are not set up to investigate UFOs. Therefore all sightings should be directed to UFO investigators who will make the information gathered available to anyone, including government.
- Letters should go to select relevant government agencies to get them to report any information that they get to UFO investigators. Offer to take the problem of what to do with the reports and how to handle them away from government officials by asking them to turn the reports over to UFO investigators.
- It is important to open the lines of communication with government agencies to let them know who is investigating.
- There is a rich amount of UFO sighting data being passed down through oral tradition among First Nations as well as society in general. However, there is a need to move UFO sightings in formation from oral tradition to written so that the information is preserved accurately. It should be stressed to society that occurrences should be written down as soon as possible.
- Start locally to establish a process of reporting by sending a letter to all agencies to outline suggested process.
- People need to feel comfortable in order to come forward.
- There is a need to find some way to help people report and remember what they saw.
- Civil servants should be made aware that people reporting UFOs need reinforcement and confirmation of their experience. In cases where there are sightings it is important to act quickly to get accurate information and let others know others have seen it.
Improving the Public Dialogue
- The way in which UFO occurrences are being interpreted depends a lot on the background belief system. Some religions accept as predictable and welcomed, other reject as against the word of God. Many First Nations dont need to have their experience justified because it is a part of a long spiritual tradition. It is their beliefs coming to a reality.
- It is important to consider how to bridge different interpretations, not necessarily break them down.
- There is a lot that the public sees as not being serious minded. There are a lot of things associated with UFOs that are laughable. Many people make fun of the topic. There are lots of UFO images seen in the media that have nothing to do with the real phenomenon.
- Many people who are involved in Ufology are poorly informed and have done no in-depth research on the subject. This leads to bad press and misinformation.
- Those practicing hypnotic regression should have the proper training in clinical hypnosis otherwise their work and the UFO subject in general is open to public attack.
- Some groups within government agencies may have an interest in keeping it viewed as nonsense as it keeps people distracted from the reality.
- UFOs in the media are acting to sensitize the public to the existence of UFO and a general recognition that they exist. Any reference to UFOs can have a positive effect. Over the past 50 years there has been continuous "advertising" of the UFO phenomenon and aliens visiting earth. It is not always serious and sometimes subliminal (cartoons, UFO treats, UFO toys, commercials/advertising, numerous movies) but it nevertheless serves to promote a society that is more and more accepting of the possibility. Why is this type of advertising been sustained for so long? Is it intentional?
- A large challenge is to move the public discussion from the National Enquirer to the legitimate press. The mainstream media is not covering UFOs in a reputable way. It is not widely known that reputable press houses are publishing books in this field.
The Role of Government
- There is no recognised government authority that knows how to correctly collect UFO reports. There are no state institutions in Canada to maintain a civilian database; no overt government agency involved in investigations or analysis of gathered information.
- Information collected by government sources is not being passed on in any systematic way to anyone who is doing anything about it.
- Things are going on behind the scenes. The military have lots of sophisticated equipment that is collecting information and getting good data but it is not being brought forward.
- Because of skepticism around government institutions it may be better not to promote government as collector of information and as a reporting center. It is better to have an independent reporting center, as in the USA. There is a need to look at sources of funding to maintain a non-government reporting center in the public interest. It is a question of maintaining independence or a democracy that represents desires of the people at large.
- There is reluctance on the part of the military to put a public face on their monitoring of UFO activity. However, the military is supposed to be dealing with matters of national security so they should, by definition, be interested.
- There are many institutions in government, the scientific community, the health community who could take actions. Provincial/Territorial governments, community development and wellness type organizations, psychologists, sociologists, mental health professionals, and physical scientists.
- In reference to the relationships between sightings and abductions, if the RCMP give up responsibility for sightings then how do they fill their role if someone is detained or abducted?
- There is a question of liability for the investigator or the government agency if witness names get transferred, they may be released intentionally or unintentionally.
- Public servants need to get approval to release information to UFO investigators and vice versa.
- The RCMPs position regarding a UFO report is that as no crime has been committed why or how should they get involved in any follow-up.
- It is the role of government and military to protect our air space so citizens can be protected. However, it should be decided by society as a whole as to what actions should taken as a result of possible extraterrestrial visitations.
- How/ what can we learn from how other governments are dealing with the issues (ie Belgium and Chile) and how they communicate their findings?
- Government people need training and briefings on the issue and on local UFO events.
Morning session concluded
The afternoon session focused on a further assessment of the current situation and the development of actions that could be taken to address some of the issues raised earlier in the day.
Martin Jasek provided the following information to promote discussion:
1. Examples of UFO reporting to official agencies in the Yukon
2. Current official and civilian UFO reporting procedures in Canada
3. Responses of agencies and governments to the workshop invitation
1. Examples of UFO reporting to official agencies in the Yukon
The RCMP, DND, and NAV CANADA employees do receive UFO calls from time to time. We know this since detailed reports have been obtained from these agencies by civilian UFO research groups in the past. The fact that these agencies do possess these detailed reports shows that they do have employees who take the person calling in the UFO report seriously; chances are if the employee didnt take the caller seriously, the person would not provide many details. However, the attitude towards witnesses is not consistent and is often governed by the employees belief system about UFOs rather than any set protocol or training. The following are some examples:
a) The following was sent to Martin Jasek by e-mail from a trustworthy source on September 11, 1999. It involved a conversation this person had with a RCMP officer from one of the detachments in the Yukon: "I had a very interesting conversation with a member of the __________ R.C.M.P detachment today. I asked about reported U.F.O sightings in the area, and after he stopped giggling, he said that he had personally taken about six or seven in the last year, but the report forms are lengthy and apparently they have a time consuming follow up process (contacting the Air force and Intelligence) so he didn't bother filling in the forms!"
b) On September 15, 1999 Martin Jasek spoke with a RCMP officer with many years of service in the Yukon and asked if she had received any UFO calls. She said "me? No" giggled and added "we usually tell the people its something else".
c) In the course of investigating "Giant UFO in the Yukon Territory" a sighting by at least 31 people on Dec 11, 1996, Martin Jasek learned that two of the witnesses were designated "Rangers" who are trained by the military to provide assistance to DND in remote areas. Neither of them reported the UFO sighting to DND as they are required to by their training. Furthermore, too our knowledge, not one of the 31 witnesses reported the UFO sighting to an official agency.
d) Colette Opper described her experience in contacting government agencies following a dramatic UFO encounter on March 30, 1997 near Whitehorse involving herself and her three children. A UFO followed the family from the Takhini River bridge to top of Two-Mile Hill (about 15 kilomters). The two younger children were in a panicked state, crying at times yelling that they wanted to go home when the mother stopped the car to watch the UFO. At one point the UFO was right above their vehicle (about 20 metres in elevation) and pacing along with it. It was slightly bigger than their car, the shape of a sphere and metallic in color. Details of case can be found at: http://bridge.netnation.com/~ufobc/yukon/family.htm
Colette Opper: On April 3rd 1997, four days after my family's sighting, I got the nerve to tell others of what I had seen. It was at lunchtime, in the staff room, at Macaulay Lodge where I brought up a general conversation about sightings. It was well received in the staff room by some. After detailing my story a few other staff members began to tell me theirs. One staff member told me "it's ok Colette, a lot of people see things out on the Mayo road". Upon the staff room clearing out, she relayed to me a story of her husband who had "something" pass over his tent when he was out hunting, many years ago, and to this day does not like to discuss it. The staff members encouraged me to call the police and airport and find out if anyone else had seen what my family and I had seen. It gave me great comfort to have so much support and that I was not crazy for what myself and family had seen.
Approximately 1:00pm on April 3, 1997, I went to my office after lunch and called the Whitehorse RCMP detachment from my place of work. I relayed my story, which was somewhat difficult as I felt it was not being well received at the other end. They told me no one else had called in on that date to inform them of the same. They gave me no leads as who I should contact with my concern and I felt very belittled, especially when they asked questions like was I alone, etc and I informed them that I had my three children with me. They did ask the ages of my children and I felt they were questioning my integrity as to what I had saw and how I could verify it (if my children may have been younger). After thoughts with this call made me wonder why they questioned me about my children's ages if they were not interested in making a report of this call in the first place!
Then I called the airport tower immediately after. I talked to a man in the tower who informed me they do not deal with these issues. He also informed me at the time that the tower's radar is only available to 9 pm and therefore would not have anything to view after that time. He did pass me on to Transport Canada (also at the Whitehorse Airport). He informed me that this department was to do a visual every hour on the hour from their roof due to the radar not being on after 9 pm (known as the perimeter check). The woman I spoke with was very open to what I had seen. She would look into who was to have been on the rooftop that evening, check their report and get back to me. She was genuinely concerned with what I was going through and told me of many sightings on the Mayo road and this was a hotspot in the Yukon. She was not aware of any report of such of what I was claiming for the evening of March 30th. If someone was on that rooftop at 11 pm they should have seen what I saw. She said she would get back to me but she never did. She suggested that I call the Department of National Defence.
I then called the National Defence (HQ Detachment Yukon, Whitehorse) after I talked to her. There was a message machine on. I left my name and home phone number and a message that I wished to discuss something of importance with someone there. I did not say what I wished to discuss, who I was, or that I had made other contacts. For all they knew I may have been a figure of authority that they knew nothing of or about who was conducting research and required data, etc. Needless to say they did not contact me either. Maybe the National Defence should return their messages-to say the least I do not feel protected by this division!
It was not until the fall of 1997 when I called Lorraine Bretlyn through her UFO ad in the newspaper. My family and myself finally had someone who would listen. Through her initial interview we met Martin Jasek who has supported my family through much documentation and validating that my family is not the only ones in the Yukon experiencing this phenomena. Martin is very scientific in his research and gave my family a sense of relief with our experiences. It was a great relief that these individuals, private citizens, went to such lengths to support my family. It relieved anxieties for both my children and myself to have someone to listen without ridicule and who assisted us in keeping our integrity.
2. Current official and civilian UFO reporting procedures in Canada
Currently, there is some forwarding of UFO reports from government agencies to civilian UFO organizations in Canada (see chart on the following page and the more detailed one in Appendix A). This service is greatly appreciated. However, the arrangement prevents a local civilian group from contacting the witness(s) to perform a follow-up investigation, provide witness support and possible counseling if needed. This is because the names of the witnesses have been deleted from the reports which prevent the local group from contacting the witness. There is also the problem of a report not being filed at all, depending on the individual that takes the call (see #1 above).
UFO Reporting in Canada in the year 2000
See detailed chart Appendix A
Canadian UFO Reporting - Chart Legend
- black solid arrows indicate UFO sighting information including witness names
- dotted arrows indicate UFO sighting information excluding witness names
- blue bold arrows indicate follow-up investigation, witness support and possible counseling
Bold diamonds indicate organizations that receive UFO reports that "indirectly" forward the sighting information to civilian UFO organizations in the province or territory of the sighting of origin. Prior to forwarding the reports, the name(s) of the witness(s) are deleted making follow-up investigation by the local civilian organization difficult. Efforts need to be made to form a more direct communication between local offices of federal agencies and local UFO investigative groups.
CSIS Canadian Security Intelligence Service
CIRVIS Report Communications Instructions for Reporting Vital Intelligence
CSE Communications Security establishment
EMO Emergency Measures Organization (Provincial or Territorial)
DND Department of National Defence
MERINT Report Merchant Intelligence report (as in merchant marine)
NORAD North American Aerospace Defense Command (Colorado)
NRC National Research Council of Canada (as of 1994, no longer accepts UFO reports)
Efforts need to be made to form a more direct communication between local offices of federal agencies and local UFO investigative groups. It is a difficult matter, as an agency does not want to be liable for releasing witness names. There should be ways around this problem however.
Appendix B shows an e-mail from DND Yellowknife outline their official UFO reporting procedures as well as the DND position regarding the UFO issue.
3. Responses of agencies and governments to the workshop invitation
Martin provided information on which agencies had been invited to attend the workshop and reported some of the reasons he was given as to why they didnt attend.
Louise Hardy, Member of Parliament for the Yukon
Ms. Hardy was interested in attending the Workshop. She wrote a letter (Appendix C) encouraging other government agencies to attend. She also made supportive opening remarks at the UFO Conference two days prior. Unfortunately, Parliament was in session the following Monday thus not allowing Ms. Hardy to attend the workshop. The Federal election was called a few days prior, inundating her constituency office with calls and a large workload thus not allowing Ms. Hardys assistant to attend the UFO workshop on her behalf.
The RCMP was first verbally invited to attend the October 16 workshop on July 20, 2000. My initial contact was with Corporal Egan who said that the decision would have to come from Sergeant Finner, Head of Criminal Operations. He said that he would have Sergeant Finner call me. I spoke with Sergeant Finner on September 1 when he stated that the RCMP would like to see an agenda before committing. Formal invitation and agenda was sent to RCMP on September 17. On September 26 Sergeant Finner called that he will attend the workshop but only as an observer and wouldnt have much to offer aside from presenting their specified procedures of sending their UFO reports to Ottawa (Transport Canada). On September 27, Sergeant Finner called again sincerely apologizing that he would not be able to make it since he found out that he was leaving a day earlier (October 16 rather than the 17th) for an out of town trip. I asked him if he could look for an alternate member to attend. He replied that he would look into it. On September 28, Sergeant Finner called to ask what the Yukon Governments involvement was, stating that he had to answer some questions for his boss. I replied that the Yukon Government Millennium program approved funding for both the conference and the workshop and that the Yukon government was also invited to attend the workshop but as of yet, had not committed. I called Sergeant Finner on October 12 who stated that he handed the file to Sergeant Huebble and that he would check with him. Pat Finner returned my call the same day apologizing that they had no one available to attend the meeting. He explained that it could not be just anyone that could represent the RCMP, it would have to be somebody from "the second floor". Unfortunately everybody would be out of town or have other duties on the following Monday. Budget cuts were cited. Sergeant Finner did express an interest in obtaining a copy of the minutes of the meeting to which I gladly agreed.
Formal invitation and agenda was sent to DND, Canadian Forces Northern Area in Yellowknife on September 17. The letter was addressed to Colonel Kevin Mcleod, Commander of Canadian Forces, Northern Area. During the last week of September I called DND, Yellowknife and left a message inquiring about the invitation. On Friday, September 29 Captain Brian Martin, Public Affairs Officer called and left a phone message saying that "as it stands now, it looks like they will be able to send someone to the workshop". However, they could not confirm this until next week. On Monday October 2, I called DND, Yellowknife and spoke with Major Karen T. VanPee who was performing the duties of Captain Martin that week. She informed me that she would be writing the response letter. A few days later I called Major Karen T. VanPee and inquired about the response from DND. The Major stated that she was working on the letter that very moment and was sincerely sorry that it would be a regret letter. The reason being was do to scheduling conflicts; nobody from DND Yellowknife would be able to attend. I inquired if they could send somebody from the Whitehorse division. The response was that DND, Yellowknife is uncomfortable to instruct DND, Whitehorse to perform duties (or words to that affect). The week of the conference I received the regret letter signed by Lieutenant-Colonel R.G. Kilburn, Chief of Staff, DND Yellowknife (Appendix D). The letter ended saying "I hope both your conference and workshop are successful"
(Transport Canada employees investigate aircraft accidents and near collisions)
Since the RCMP forward their UFO reports to Transport Canadas Aviation Operations Centre in Ottawa their local representatives were invited to attend. Transport Canada maintains a very small number of employees in Whitehorse (only two officers). When contacted they showed interest in attending the workshop but that it would have to be approved by their boss in Yellowknife. They suggested I contact him. I contacted Kevin Deveau in Yellowknife and he replied that he didnt have a problem with his Whitehorse employees attending the workshop as long as they didnt have other pressing duties. Shortly before the conference, one of the local Transport Canada officers called saying that he would be unable to attend due to personal commitments. He mentioned that he would check with the other officer. I didnt press the matter further as they only had a staff of two officers.
(NAV CANADA employees staff the air traffic control towers).
On September 6, Rick Newton, the Regional Manager of Communications for NAV CANADA in Edmonton was contacted to inquire if they could send somebody to attend the workshop. He replied that he wasnt interested in sending anybody and to his knowledge there had been no UFO reports filed with his organization. Starting on September 19 several local NAV CANADA employees were contacted and showed keen interest. Background material including the workshop agenda and UFO*BC Special Report #1, "Giant UFO in the Yukon Territory" was sent to them. On September 29 a local NAV CANADA employee called and stated that he received word from higher up that "it would be inappropriate for them to attend". The individual was apologetic and appreciative of the material I sent him.
The September 17 letter of invitation went to Pamela J. Buckway, Minister of Community and Transportation Services (C&TS), Yukon Government. The letter went to the Minister of C&TS since the Emergency Measures Organization (EMO) resides within this department of the Yukon Government. The reasoning being that EMO is a potential agency that may receive UFO calls. (The January 18, 2000 Fireball event resulted in many calls to this organization) On September 22 Ms. Buckway wrote a letter regretting that she will not be able to attend personally due to preparation for the fall legislative session in October. The letter ended with a very positive statement: "I agree with you on the importance of fostering a respectful environment in which people can feel comfortable sharing their views and experiences without fear of ridicule or disrespect". I contacted Ms. Buckways office thanking her for the thoughtful letter and stated that the Yukon Government participant didnt have to be someone from the Ministers office and suggested that perhaps someone from EMO could attend. Further communication with Ms. Buckways office and EMO was conducted by phone. On October 10, the EMO called and stated that they would try to send someone to the workshop on October 16.
Municipalities and First Nations
Note: Yukon wide municipal elections were scheduled for October 19, 2000, just three days after the workshop making it difficult for municipal representatives to commit to the workshop. It is also understandable that sending a representative from some of the more distant communities may had been too onerous and/or expensive for the municipality or First Nation. Their consideration to attend is greatly appreciated.
Village of Mayo - On October 12 a letter was received from the Village of Mayo, stating that the invitation was reviewed at their October 4 council meeting but "unfortunately no one from the Village of Mayo is able to attend". The letter added, "we wish you a successful workshop and conference".
The Town of Watson Lake - The Town council of Watson Lake also reviewed the letter of invitation. The consensus was that all members were free to attend the workshop. Richard Durocher, councilor (Now Mayor as of the election on October 19) indicated that he would attend the conference and the workshop. A last minute family matter prevented him from attending.
Village of Carmacks - The Mayor of the Village of Carmacks stated that he would be attending the conference and workshop. A last minute matter prevented him from attending.
Selkirk First Nation - On October 12, the Selkirk First Nation regretfully informed us that they had no one that was available to attend the workshop.
Participants noted that although there were over 300 people at the conference no one in a position of authority or responsibility for dealing with UFO sightings were in attendance at the workshop. There is a lack of recognition among government institutions about what people care about or want to know and what they want government to be doing.
Strategies and Actions
The relationship between government agencies and non-government investigators needs to be defined. This can be done through open communication and information communication sharing. Models from other countries should be considered.
The key institutional authorities that can play a role in UFO reporting were identified as:
- Government- RCMP, DND, Local Police, Coast guard, Aviation/ transport, Weather service, Field resource managers, Military/ intelligence organizations, EMO
- Media- Local/ regional and national
- Academic/ educational organizations
- Professional people
- Private/ non-government organizations including fishing vessels and marine merchant vessels.
Efforts should be made to obtain reports of UFO occurrences from government organizations. Non-government groups and associations should also be encouraged to provide information. UFO organizations could then assume a lead role in conducting investigations and would be able to provide their findings to anyone with an interest.
Action: Write to all relevant agencies and organizations as a means of promoting information sharing with specified UFO organizations. Outline specific follow-up actions to any UFO report, stressing that any occurrences should be immediately referred to a UFO investigator. Provide information to the public on what to do if they see a UFO.
Action: Conduct lectures/briefings to government agencies, scientific groups and professional organizations in the Yukon on the reality and quality of UFO sightings that have occurred in the Yukon.
The use of existing and available information and databases such as scientific literature, reports, opinion surveys and scholarly works to educate and inform the public and media would assist in improving the credibility of investigators and witness. Efforts should be made to provide information on UFOs in a public forum (radio, newspapers, internet)
Action: Publish a monthly column in the Yukon newspapers that provides information on past accounts and reports. This can also be used as a medium to promote awareness of the phenomenon in general and the extent of occurrences.
Creating a better environment for witness reporting and support is very important. Witness must feel safe from ridicule and be aware of what to do if an incident occurs.
Action: Establish reporting hotlines with direct links to UFO investigators.
Action: Provide a better support system for witnesses by establishing a list of designated psychologists who can meet with people and assist them in dealing with their experiences. Establish peer support group within occupational groups such as air traffic controllers.
If the local Yukon organization wants to expand its role it will be necessary to recruit more people to become involved. It is important to build on success of the conference and its funding in order to obtain further funding.
Action: Establish a non-profit society in the Yukon.
Action: Search for funding and establish, run, advertise a toll free "UFO reporting phone number" for the Yukon.
Some of the functions of a non-profit society could include:
Investigate and document as accurately as possible UFO sightings in the Yukon and make the information available to the public. Recruit more investigators. Attempt to secure funding to hold future UFO conferences and subsidize research costs. Communicate, exchange information and meet when possible with other UFO organizations. Assist with more voices to take to government agencies, legislation, funding concerns, etc.
The workshop closed with participants thanking Martin Jasek for all his hard work in organizing the workshop and the conference. The Yukon has the potential to set up a system for communication, reporting and witness assistance that could be a model for the rest of the country.
Participants agreed that the workshop might have been more of an opportunity to discuss issues and strategies because government representatives were not in attendance. It wasnt necessary to spend time justifying the reality of the UFO issue. Instead it was possible to establish practical actions which will lead to improve communication between citizens and the agencies in the future.
Appendix A Detailed Chart of UFO Reporting Procedures in Canada
Appendix B E-mail from DND: position on the UFO issue and reporting procedures
Appendix C Letter from Ms. Louise Hardy, Member of Parliament
Appendix D Letter from DND
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