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'Aliens are coming': Alberta RCMP 911 dispatchers fielding calls about UFO sightings

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A blinding flash of light, something unidentified overhead or aliens at the door. Somewhere the truth is out there.

Canadians appear to be seeing more “out there” while scanning the night skies in increasing numbers. The COVID-19 pandemic has people spending more time outdoors, which has led to a growing interest in astronomy and unusual calls to RCMP 911 dispatchers.

The Alberta centres received nearly 900,000 calls last year, and it’s the unusual ones — not requiring police, fire or EMS to be sent out — that tend to stand out in the minds of the 160 dispatchers.

“There were definitely some themes about unusual UFO sightings and satellites,” said Tracy Duval, acting operations manager in Red Deer, Alta.

“We were getting a lot of calls with the SpaceX satellite launches. They’re a very specific pattern in the sky, they’re not hitting the ground, and we can just explain very quickly to people that there are actual satellites in there.”

SpaceX is a U.S. aerospace company founded by business magnate Elon Musk.

Duval said there are some people who are convinced that aliens have already landed and are trying to break into their homes.

“It makes you chuckle (and) you say, ‘No, I’m pretty sure you’re all right’. People do think that,” she said.

“We have situations where people are (saying) … ‘No, it’s legit. The aliens are coming.’ Sometimes it’s making sure that they don’t actually have someone breaking into their house when they’re mistaking it for some extraterrestrial kind of experience.”

Evan Davis of Shellbrook, Sask., had his own close encounter while driving to work early in the morning in late February.

“It was just kind of twilight. The sun was coming up behind me and all of a sudden there was a flash. And then there was this big, huge fireball and it was leaving a lit trail that stayed for a second or two behind it as it fell,” Davis said.

“It’s something I won’t forget. It was spectacular and the whole thing lasted about six or seven seconds total. It lit up the whole sky and then it was gone.”

A comet fragment burning up in the Earth’s atmosphere did light up the early-morning sky over Alberta and Saskatchewan in February.

Winnipeg-based Ufology Research released a survey in March that indicated sightings of UFOs across Canada — levitating discs, erratic lights and floating triangular objects — increased by 46 per cent in 2020.

The centre’s Chris Rutkowski said the total of 1,243 sightings is one of the highest recorded in a single year. 

A longtime astronomer suggests people are simply watching the night sky more during the pandemic.

“It’s been a real resurgence in astronomy,” said Ron Waldron, president of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada in Saskatoon, who noted telescopes are in short supply.

“People are suddenly noticing the night sky. They haven’t taken the time to notice it before, so what astronomers have been watching for years, and know exactly what it is, people are now looking up and saying, ‘I don’t know what that is, so it must be a UFO.'” 

Waldron said more satellites are being launched “much to the bane of astronomers” and are visible to the human eye. So is the International Space Station on a clear night.

“(People) aren’t necessarily able to interpret what they’re seeing. There are no more unidentified flying objects up there during the pandemic than there were before.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 2, 2021.

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Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Three Canadian teams to play in women's hockey Dream Gap Tour in Calgary

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CALGARY — Canada’s top players in women’s hockey will finally get to play real games later this month in Calgary.

The Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association (PWHPA) is holding Canada’s first Dream Gap Tour event in over a year May 24-30 at a Calgary venue yet to be announced.

Sixty players from the PWHPA’s three Canadian hubs in Toronto, Montreal and Calgary will play to determine the Canadian Secret Cup champion.

Secret, which announced a $1-million sponsorship of the PWHPA earlier this year, and the NHL’s Calgary Flames are the financial partners in the event.

Similar COVID-19 quarantine and testing protocols established by Hockey Canada for the world junior men’s hockey championship and national women’s and para hockey camps in Alberta will be incorporated.

Alberta tightened restrictions this week in the face of rising COVID cases, but Alberta Health has approved plans for the women’s tournament, PWHPA operations consultant Jayna Hefford said. 

“They believe the protocols, the quote-unquote bubble that’s been put in place, will secure the safety of our group and Albertans,” the Hockey Hall of Famer told The Canadian Press. “There will be no interaction with the public.”

While the PWHPA’s Calgary plans were in the works before Nova Scotia’s premier pulled the plug on this month’s women’s world championship, the Dream Gap Tour now offers an oasis in what’s been a pandemic hockey desert for the majority of players in the national women’s team pool.

The last real games many of them played came in a PWHPA tournament March 6-8, 2020 in Arizona. The last PWHPA event in Canada was Jan. 11-12, 2020 in Toronto.

The PWHPA’s American chapter has played a handful of games in the United States in recent weeks, although a two-day tournament in St. Louis was postponed from early April to May 16-17.

Canada’s mandatory 14-day quarantine upon return from outside the country kept Canadian players from participating in the U.S. games.

Stricter health regulations across Canada also made skating together in groups impossible at times and planning actual games in the country a non-starter.

“It’s been so challenging,” Hefford said. “We had to try to encourage our players to be patient early on in the season, and even in early 2021 we continued to reiterate we would only host events if we could feel really comfortable about the safety of everyone involved.”

The PWHPA, which includes Canadian and U.S. national team players, rose from the ashes of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League that folded in 2019. 

The goal of the roughly 150 players is a sustainable league that offers the competitive supports and training environments the male pros get, and wages that allow them to be professional athletes.

They’ve so far refused to join the six-team National Women’s Hockey League, which recently announced a doubling of each team’s salary cap to US$300,000 for next season. The Toronto Six is the lone Canadian club in that league.

The PWHPA held a series of Dream Gap Tour tournaments and events across North America in 2019-20 before the global pandemic brought the sporting world to its knees.

The pandemic continued to impede women’s hockey internationally and domestically.

The women’s world championship in Nova Scotia was cancelled a second straight year, although Hockey Canada is committed to hosting the tournament in August in a location yet to be named.

January’s world under-18 women’s championship in Sweden was called off, while a men’s under-20 champion was crowned in Edmonton that month.

The men’s world under-18 championship in Texas concludes Thursday. The men’s world championship is scheduled to open in just over two weeks on May 21 in Riga, Latvia.

The NHL, men’s minor pro leagues and major junior’s Western Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League all operated in some form this winter.

Calgary’s Scotiabank, Toronto’s Sonnet and Montreal’s Bauer squaring off for a trophy and prize money can help revive the visibility of women’s hockey in Canada, Hefford said.

“We represent the players and we want to see them out there,” she stated.

“We have partners that have been so loyal and committed, so helpful in this process to move this forward, get the women back on the ice. 

“It seems like men’s hockey has gone on and we continue to hit these hurdles. 

“I hope this is a great opportunity for the women to play, but also for people to see the best of women’s hockey on the ice again.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 6, 2021.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Canadian Natural reports $1.38B Q1 profit, record quarterly production

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CALGARY — Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. reported a first-quarter profit of nearly $1.38 billion compared with a loss a year ago.

The oilsands producer says the profit amounted to $1.16 per diluted share for the quarter ended March 31.

The result compared with a loss of $1.28 billion or $1.08 per diluted share a year ago.

Revenue totalled $6.6 billion, up from $4.5 billion in the first three months of 2020, helped by higher oil and natural gas prices.

Production in the quarter was a record 1,245,703 barrels of oil equivalent per day, up from 1,178,752 barrels of oil equivalent per day in the first quarter of 2020.

On an adjusted basis, Canadian Natural says it earned $1.03 per diluted share compared with an adjusted loss of 25 cents per share last year.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 6, 2021.

Companies in this story: (TSX:CNQ)

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