Official UFO study launched in Canada; here’s what it hopes to achieve

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The Canadian government’s top scientist has launched a study into unidentified aerial phenomena, or UAP: a term that is replacing “UFO” and “unidentified flying object” in official circles.

Known as the “Sky Canada Project,” the study, being conducted by the Office of the Chief Science Advisor of Canada, is the first known official Canadian UFO research effort in nearly 30 years.

According to a February 2023 PowerPoint presentation, the study seeks to understand how UAP reports are handled in Canada, and to offer recommendations for improvements if needed.

The project plans to collect information this winter and spring before preparing an internal draft report in the fall, and a final public report in the winter or spring of 2024.

“Who is compiling and analyzing UAP observations made by Canadians?” the first page of the slide deck asks. Public records and declassified documents show the answer may involve federal transportation officials, the Canadian air force and more.

The nine-page presentation is currently circulating within federal organizations that have been approached for input, including Transport Canada, the Canadian Space Agency and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. A government source with knowledge of the project provided the document on condition of anonymity. In an email, the Office of the Chief Science Advisor confirmed its authenticity.

“Any emerging technology or unexplained phenomenon that is reported in the media is of interest to our office,” a spokesperson said.

Page 4 of the presentation outlines motivations behind the Sky Canada Project, which include supporting science to “document rare natural phenomena,” encouraging transparency and information access to “prevent conspiracy theories,” and aiding national security to “prevent undetected intrusions.”

It also lists preparing for collaboration with U.S. officials, where both the Pentagon and NASA are studying UAP, as well as responding to “an official request” to “undertake a comprehensive study on UAPs in Canada” from Larry Maguire, the Conservative member of parliament for Brandon-Souris in Manitoba.

“The Chief Science Advisor’s project is a signal to the government, the scientific community, the media, and Parliament that they can no longer ignore this,” Maguire said. Maguire has been publicly advocating for a program like this since May 2022. “The vast majority of reports should be explainable and that’s where we need the Sky Canada Project to lay out a scientific plan to do that. The government needs to quickly and accurately determine what is in our skies with a high degree of confidence.”


News of the project comes amid heightened interest in so-called unidentified aerial phenomena following the February 2023 downing of a suspected Chinese spy balloon and three unidentified objects in North American airspace.

Canada’s Chief Science Advisor post was created in 2017 to promote scientific independence and provide impartial advice to the prime minister and cabinet. Led by cardiovascular scientist and former University of Ottawa vice-president of research Mona Nemer, the office has published reports on topics such as COVID-19aquaculture and open science. It currently has a team of about 20 people and an annual budget of nearly $4 million. Operating at arm’s length from the government, Nemer reports to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry François-Philippe Champagne.

Perhaps the most vocal Canadian lawmaker on the issue, Maguire publicly called on the Chief Science Advisor to investigate the matter in a May 12 op-ed, a May 18 parliamentary committee meeting, and an August letter addressed to Nemer herself.

“My motivation for specifically asking the Chief Science Advisor to undertake this initiative is that we need a fresh set of eyes to investigate this issue and I wanted her office to outline specific recommendations the government can implement,” Maguire said. “We need a whole-of-government approach, which should include open data. It’s long past time to involve academics, researchers and experts to bear down with the aim of investigating the origin and intent of UAP.”

The presentation makes it clear that Sky Canada does not intend to transform the Office of the Chief Science Advisor into “the main point of contact for Canadians wanting to report observations.”

“(Sky Canada) is not meant to access and collect first-hand data,” the slides explain. “It is not meant to prove or deny the existence of extraterrestrial life or extraterrestrial visitors.”

The presentation also includes questions for organizations Sky Canada reaches out to about their experiences, expertise and suggestions for improvements: “Do you have equipment that collects information on activities in the sky?” and “Is there a follow-up with individuals reporting observations?”


Transport Canada, the federal transportation department, maintains an online aviation incident database that’s peppered with nearly three decades of strange sightings from police officerssoldiersair traffic controllers and pilots on medicalmilitarycargo and passenger flights operated by WestJetAir Canada ExpressPorter AirlinesDelta and more. At least nine more have been filed so far in 2023, including a flight that reported “two lights dancing around… in a circular pattern” near Yellowknife, N.W.T. in northern Canada on the night of Jan. 29.

Transport Canada cautions such “reports contain preliminary, unconfirmed data which can be subject to change.” A spokesperson from Transport Canada previously said that UAP-related reports “often fall outside the department’s mandate” and are “rarely” followed up on.

Aviation-related UAP reports can also be forwarded to a Norad-linked Royal Canadian Air Force squadron. For its part, the Canadian military routinely states that it does “not typically investigate sightings of unknown or unexplained phenomena outside the context of investigating credible threats, potential threats, or potential distress in the case of search and rescue.” Before the downing of the three unidentified objects in February 2023, at least four cases appear to have met that criteria since 2016.

Documents show Canadians have also reported UFO sightings to the Canadian Space Agency and the RCMP.


With the Sky Canada Project, Canada will be following the lead of the U.S., where the subject is being studied by both the Pentagon and NASA. A headline-grabbing June 2021 report from U.S. intelligence officials described recent military sightings, including UAP that appeared to “manoeuver abruptly, or move at considerable speed, without discernable means of propulsion.” NASA is expected to publish its own UAP report in mid-2023.

“We are years behind the Americans,” Maguire said. “It is abundantly clear there is no co-ordination among government departments to analyze or investigate UAP reports. As of right now, there is very little being done.”

Winnipeg-based UFO researcher and science writer Chris Rutkowski says the last known official Canadian involvement in the subject ended in 1995, when the National Research Council of Canada stopped collecting reports.

“Working with a group of scientists focused on gathering instrumented UAP observations… would be desirable as a way of studying the UAP problem objectively and with sound methodology,” Rutkowski said.

Records show the Office of the Chief Science Advisor of Canada has been looking into the topic since at least mid-2021, around the same time then-Canadian defence minister Harjit Sajjan received a UAP briefing from his staff, according to an investigation. also previously reported that members of the Pentagon’s UAP Task Force briefed Canadian military personnel nearly a year ago, in February 2022, and that Transport Minister Omar Alghabra’s staff held their own internal UAP briefing in May 2022.

Maguire hopes developments like these will help break the stigma of reporting and studying UAP in Canada.

“The Chief Science Advisor’s team has the appropriate clearances to dig deep into the existing data and must be given access to everything,” Maguire said. “If the Chief Science Advisor’s office is given complete access to all the information and intelligence our government currently possesses, and her report can publicly reveal it, we will be having a much different conversation. Canadians have a right to know what their tax dollars are being spent on.”

Paul Delaney is an emeritus professor of physics and astronomy at York University in Toronto. Delaney doubts UAP represent extraterrestrial technology, and thinks the vast majority of sightings can be attributed to balloons, drones, celestial objects like Venus, and both known and experimental aircraft. Delaney nonetheless acknowledges that a small percentage of cases remain unexplained and believes it’s a subject worthy of further scientific investigation.

“The more insight and fact finding that can be brought to bear on this subject the better,” Delaney said “Credible observations can only improve our understanding of UFO/UAPs.” 

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