Raymond Yakeleya has never seen a UFO, but he believes.
The filmmaker, born in Tulita, N.W.T., is collecting stories about UFO sightings in the North for a documentary.
There have been reports of sightings and encounters with extraterrestrials throughout the N.W.T. over the years, including one earlier this month in Fort Smith.
Yakeleya says there's even a UFO connection and evidence in Dene legend.
"We have in one of our legends a story about alien visitations where the chief of the alien people has requested a Dene wife, and that it happened," he said.
“I’ve often wondered about that, how is it possible that our people would have alien beings in our legends,” he said. “One thing I do know about my people is they don’t lie, they don’t make things up like that.”
He said he’s heard many stories from elders who say they’ve seen UFOs out on the land. He says even though he’s never experienced alien encounters, he can’t discount what others say.
Yakeleya's film is tentatively called UFOs, Aliens and First Nations.
Since starting work on the project, Yakeleya has heard many people talk about alien sightings and abductions.
“If we’re ever going to really understand this phenomenon we have to talk about it," he said.
Yakeleya says he and other children in residential school were shamed for sharing their culture’s legends and he wants people to open up about their experiences.
“When we’re sharing things it’s a really poor way — if we’re ever going to learn things — to shame people,” he says. “It’s beautiful to listen to people.”
Yakeleya expects the shooting and editing will be finished this spring. Part of the challenge is illustrating the stories. He’s been working on finding drawings and some photographs.
He is now filming in Alberta and hopes to visit the N.W.T. in February.