If you’ve ever seen a strange light slip across the Yukon sky, or heard a mechanical buzz in the middle of a dark forest, don’t worry: you are not alone.
Strange things tend to happen to regular people. The trouble is, after experiencing something out of the ordinary, finding someone willing to take you seriously can be difficult.
Luckily for Yukoners with a strange story to share, there’s one person who will listen. Her name is Lorraine Bretlyn and she’s been documenting reports of strange encounters in the Yukon for a long time.
Bretlyn first began by placing an ad in a Whitehorse paper almost 20 years ago. The ad invited anyone with UFO-related experiences to contact her. It was a hit. Through calls and emails, she received all manner of reports to document and investigate.
All these years later, Bretlyn still hasan ad running, though it’s evolved to include everything from the paranormal to Bigfoot sightings. How people contact her has also changed.
“Very rarely do I get phone calls,” says Bretlyn. “My Jeep is so decked out with UFO-related things, and I’m – after all these years – fairly well known. I’ll be in a parking lot getting groceries and people will just come up. I get mostly face-to-face reports now.”
After receiving a report, Bretlyn does a number of things. For one, she contacts Chris Rutkowski at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, who collects annual UFO statistics in Canada. Also, when possible, Bretlyn will visit the location herself and investigate.
“If I get reports from a specific place, I go out myself with my camera,” she says. “For whatever reason, the camera lens picks up on things that the human eye does not.”
It can be the small details that make a report stand out, or link it to others, and so in the early days Bretlyn would write out a detailed account of each report herself.
“I would say to people, ‘How about you write it? Then it’s in your own words and you can give it to me.’ I had almost no takers there – not everybody’s a writer,” she says.
“I also ask people if they can draw me their report. I’ve had a few of those and they’re on my Jeep. But they always ask me not to include their name, because they don’t want to be ridiculed, and for me that’s an absolute shame.”
As the one who is putting her name out there, and standing up for the experiences of others, Bretlyn has opened herself up to criticism. Waving the UFO flag takes courage when everyone’s a skeptic, and she invites others to be more open-minded.
“These are personal experiences for people,” she says. “And if I wasn’t there then it’s their experience. It isn’t for me to be the armchair judge and jury of someone else. So when I take reports, I don’t reword statements – I just let them say it.”
As for her personal preferences, Bretlyn insists each new report is as intriguing as the last.
“I don’t do favourites, kind of like a mother with a big family,” Bretlyn says.
“Each report has something different to it and that’s what keeps it interesting. Some have a sound factor, some don’t. For others it’s mechanical, or it’s got really strange movement. It’s never boring,” she adds.
“Over the years people have peppered me with questions, as if I have all the answers. It’s wonderful that they think I’m gifted with that level of wisdom, but I have no explanation. I’m not the be-all, end-all, the know-it-all. I just really enjoy that people come to me to share these experiences.”
If you’ve had a personal encounter with the supernatural, or happen to spot a set of large ape-like footprints, Lorraine Bretlyn would love to hear your story. Contact the UFO Hotline at 867-334-5499 or firstname.lastname@example.org.