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Trudeau confirms unidentified object downed in ‘fairly large area’ between Dawson and Mayo

Prime minister marked the 50th anniversary of Together Today for our Children Tomorrow in the Yukon
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses reporters as Premier Ranj Pillai and Yukon MP Brendan Hanley look on (from right) at the airport firehall in Whitehorse on Feb. 13. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)

Editor’s note: This story contains strong language and a Nazi reference.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed authorities are searching a “fairly large area that is roughly put between Dawson and Mayo” for an unidentified object shot down over the Yukon.

Trudeau told reporters at the Whitehorse airport firehall on Feb. 13 that he had just toured with RCMP and Canadian Armed Forces members who will be leading the recovery efforts on the ground for the object, which is underway.

“We don’t know the degree of hazard that could be involved in this object that was downed. We have to be safe,” he said.

“As time goes on, we will for sure have different instructions to give to local outfitters and trappers and people who may be in the area.”

In a Feb. 11 statement on Twitter, Trudeau said he ordered the take down of an unidentified object that had violated Canadian airspace. He said a U.S. F-22 shot down the object over the Yukon after Canadian and U.S. aircraft were scrambled under a North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) mission.

Trudeau said the highest levels of NORAD in Canada and the U.S. are working to understand more about the object, locate it and answer the many outstanding questions that remain about the object and its origins.

“I think, obviously, there is some sort of pattern in there,” he said.

“The fact that we are seeing this in a significant degree over the past week is a cause for interest and close attention, which is exactly what we’re doing. We’ve deployed significant resources here to be able to recover the object as well as diplomatic and international engagements going on to find more information and to get solutions on this.”

Trudeau said he spoke with First Nations leaders in the affected area who are “rightly concerned about the impact on their citizens, but are also recognizing that the decision was taken to take this down over a fairly unpopulated and sparsely populated territory to make sure that the safety of Canadians and of Yukoners was first and foremost.”

He said there are teams in place to deal with the object in case it is hazardous to “make sure that there is no risk to human life” as it is recovered.

Trudeau said the federal government, the armed forces and NORAD have the responsibility to “make sure Canadian sovereignty is protected and maintained.”

“But we do that in partnership,” he said.

“You can’t talk about protection and sovereignty in the North without talking about and talking with the people who’ve lived here for millennia, and that’s always been at the core of how we need to operate in the North, how we need to work in partnership with the local communities and local leadership.”


Unidentified object over the territory posed no risk to Yukoners’ safety, premier says

Trudeau was in the territory with his son to mark the 50th anniversary of a delegation of Yukon chiefs handing over a historic document — Together Today for our Children Tomorrow — to his father, then-prime minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau on Feb. 14, 1973. He said it was “extraordinarily moving” to be able to sit down with the chiefs, including direct descendants of the chiefs who went to Ottawa at that time.

“The model that was presented to my father 50 years ago led 20 years later to the signing of the first modern treaties in an extremely concrete way that has been an example not just in Yukon, but for across the country,” he said.

“It is something for me to be able to be here personally, to see the work that’s been done, but it also puts things in perspective. The work of reconciliation, of changing this country, doesn’t happen in one visit or over a weekend or even in one mandate. It happens because people come together, roll up their sleeves, and start the work in a deep and meaningful way.”

While in Whitehorse, Trudeau spoke at a Liberal Party of Canada fundraiser at MacBride Museum on Feb. 12.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses attendees of a Liberal Party of Canada fundraiser in Whitehorse on Feb. 12. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses attendees of a Liberal Party of Canada fundraiser in Whitehorse on Feb. 12. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)

A group of protesters congregated outside the museum on the evening of the fundraiser. The News witnessed people flying “F— Trudeau” flags, waving handmade signs, distributing print copies of Druthers and expressing anti-vaccine sentiments. One man executed a Nazi salute.

During his remarks, Trudeau addressed the presence of protesters outside to the room of attendees inside.

“Politics isn’t an easy place to be,” he said.

“That’s why I’m so grateful to all of you for choosing on this night to come out to proudly support Canada and Canadian democracy while waving at the people with the flags outside.”

Contact Dana Hatherly at

Dana Hatherly

About the Author: Dana Hatherly

I’m the legislative reporter for the Yukon News.
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