Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was reportedly briefed about an “Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP)” via a classified memo in February 2023. The memo became public thanks to a freedom of information request and sheds light on how the Canadian government and its military handles these puzzling reports, which have garnered international attention and reignited discussions around national security.

The memo details the tracking and subsequent shooting down of an unidentified object over Yukon territory on February 11. What makes this incident particularly noteworthy is that this was the 23rd such object tracked over North America in just the initial weeks of this year. The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has implemented a numbering system to track these objects. Despite the identification numbers, the function, propulsion methods, or affiliations of these mysterious objects remain largely unconfirmed.

Interestingly, NORAD primarily focuses on tracking objects that could pose credible threats. The majority of the objects turned out to be benign, not meeting the threshold for further action or even higher reporting. This leaves us pondering over the significance of the 23rd object, which was considered worth shooting down. President Joe Biden had opined that the mysterious objects likely posed no threat, labeling them as probably private or research balloons. However, the decision to neutralize the object indicates a more cautious approach from defense agencies.

The memo was classified as “Secret” and circulated among a very narrow distribution list, which included Trudeau’s national security advisory, Jody Thomas, and was signed by Janice Charette, the influential clerk of the Privy Council at that time. The Privy Council Office (PCO) serves as the nerve center for the Canadian public service and provides non-partisan support to the Prime Minister and the cabinet in policy-making. Clearly, this places the UAP issue at a high level of governance, making it a matter of priority.

The object over Yukon was neutralized by a U.S. F-22 fighter jet, as Canadian CF-18 Hornets were not favorably positioned to respond. The memo also highlighted the challenging winter conditions and the remote mountainous terrain that have hampered the efforts to recover debris from the downed object. Interestingly, the memo also noted that the area where the object was neutralized is a known caribou migration route, which raises the possibility of accidental discovery by Indigenous hunters in the future.

The classified document had extensive redactions made to it, citing national security and cabinet confidentiality as the primary reasons. However, what is clear is that there is a level of cooperation between Canada and the United States in dealing with such phenomena, going beyond national boundaries. Iain Boyd, a professor of aerospace engineering, commented that the memo reflects how both countries are grappling with limitations in their detection and tracking capabilities.

The Canadian military’s stance has historically been to investigate unknown or unexplained phenomena only when they pose credible threats. This case seems to meet that criterion, further supporting the narrative that there has been a shift in attitude toward UAPs, both in Canada and internationally. In the United States, this shift is evidenced by increased investigations by the Pentagon and NASA into what they term as “unidentified anomalous phenomena” – their official nomenclature for UFOs.


As more incidents are reported and studies are undertaken, it will be interesting to see if procedures and attitudes continue to evolve. A federal aviation database in Canada has records of unusual sightings spanning decades, filed by various professionals including police officers and air traffic controllers. Further, Canada has launched its first official UAP study in nearly three decades, known as the Sky Canada Project, which aims to provide a comprehensive public report by 2024.

Source: Daniel Otis for CTV News. Read the official memo here.

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