UFO Conference Explores the UnknownRoswell of Canada?? I hope not! :-)
Ron Foley Macdonald
Halifax hosted an early Halloween party on October 14th when Redstar Films presented the first New Frontiers Symposium at St. Mary's University. Covering subjects such as Extraterrestial Life, Space Exploration and The Future, and examinations of various strange creatures such as the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot and Chupacabras from Puerto Rico, the conference was a weird and wonderful confluence of what constitutes the borders of known knowledge.
Redstar President Paul Kimball delivered one of the sessions himself in the day-long seminar. His subject was four of the top-ten UFO incidents. Not surprisingly, it is the subject of his latest documentary film for the Space Channel. Kimball's latest non-fiction film, Fields Of Fear--on the subject of possible mutilation of livestock by alien interference--made its debut on the Space Channel in mid-September of this year. Check your local listings because the hour-long film will be returning to the small screen in various re-broadcasts through the fall and winter.
The actual conference was open to the public, allowing attendees the rare chance to question some of the world's UFO and para-normal experts directly. A final Q&A session ended the conference Saturday night, giving the speakers the opportunity to discuss and debate amongst themselves.
Hearing Stanton K. Friedman--the leading civilian investigator of UFO phenomena in the United Stages and Canada--debate Greg Bishop about the current status of 'the Contactee Movement' was worth the price of admission alone. Using the infamous Betty and Barney Hill case from the early 1960s as a starting point, the duo covered all sorts of fascinating ground concerning why the whole 'Alien Abduction' story seems to linger on despite various authority groups' stringent attempts to discredit it.
On a practical note, one sessioneer--the IT specialist William Wise--delivered a nuts-and-bolts talk on how a raft of dedicated volunteers are putting the voluminous information from the now-unclassified 'Project Blue Book' on the web for better public access. Project Blue Book contains the American Defense department's records of unexplained encounters, from strange balls of light all the way to UFOs.
Begun in the immediate post-war period during the depths of the Cold War, the archival material contains so much information that it will take years to get it all posted on the web.
Another fascinating session, by the British writer (now living in Florida) Nick Redfern, revolved around the issue of 'Crypto-Biology'. Redfern detailed strange and mythical creatures from around the world, from the Loch Ness Monster in Scotland (which he personally researched for almost 20 years) to the more recently discussed appearances of Chupacabras in Puerto Rico. Cupacabras are kind of a cross between vampires and gargoyles, and have haunted that Caribbean Island for centuries. Their story has only emerged to the wider world over the last decade or so.
Redfern's main argument was simple and elegant. There are, he says, apparently, many life forms on this planet that defy easy explanation. Like much of the rest of the conference, Redfern's presentation keyed in on the whole process of keeping an open mind, and encouraging communication and ongoing research.
The Conference's keynote speaker was American Historian Robert Zimmerman, who delivered an engrossing talk on little-known incidents from the American, Soviet and Russian Space programs. His expert testimony revealed many small but surprisingly enlightening moments in programs that revealed just how far we've progressed in the process of space exploration.
Entertaining, provocative and informative, the New Frontiers Symposium is further proof that Halifax is well on its way to becoming the Roswell of Canada. With several world-class UFO researchers based out of the city, and the Shag Harbour Incident of October, 1967 proving to be this country's equivalent of that famous late 1940's New Mexico incident, the East Coast of Canada is turning into a hotbed of para-normal inquiries.
Attaining coverage from CBC and CKDU Radio, along with featured print articles in The Halifax Daily News, The Chronicle-Heral and the St. Mary's Student Union weekly paper The Journal, the New Frontiers Symposium clearly achieved an impact on the media. Kimball, in a post-conference e-mail, promised that the gathering will be back next year to continue the discourse on the borders of the known and the unknown.
For more info on this years New Frontiers Symposium, check out nfs2006.com.
As I noted in a yet-to-be-published comment at the Aliant.net site, it's Stanton T. Friedman, and Nick hails from Texas now, not Florida. Otherwise, thanks to RFM for the nice review - glad he enjoyed the day.