resigned to 'loony' label
he remains frustrated that others haven't seen the light
By DARREN MacDONALD
into Michel Deschamps' basement is like stepping into a
religious shrine. But the objects of worship aren't religious
- at least not in a traditional sense.
they're dedicated to Deschamps' unending quest to prove
that UFOs really exist.
walls are plastered with framed newspaper clippings proclaiming
UFO sightings; on the desk are statues of 'aliens', based
on the descriptions of people who have claimed to have had
close encounters with them.
line the walls of his bedroom, each containing documentaries
on UFOs and testimonials from people who claim to have been
abducted. In his hands he has two models of alien ships
people claim to have seen, and he's clutching them like
a medieval Christian might hold a piece of wood he believes
is from Christ's cross.
the religious comparison is one Deschamps, 31, firmly rejects.
was the last time someone took a photo of God?" he
asks, pointing to the many pictures of UFOs that have appeared
in newspapers over the years. "It's not a religion
when you have physical evidence like that."
middle child of a family of four, Deschamps was born in
Val d'Or Quebec in 1964, the son of a miner. The family
moved to Sudbury in 1968, and to Hanmer two years later,
where Deschamps still lives with his parents.
admits that his deeply religious parents "don't know
quite where to place" his UFO mania. But, generally,
his family is fairly supportive.
avid Elvis Presley fan, he quickly points out he was never
part of the 'Elvis is alive' fad of a few years ago.
I know he's dead," he says. "Some people say he's
been seen on a UFO with E.T., but I don't think so,"
he says, poking fun at the view some have of him as a loony.
It's a reputation Deschamps accepts and hates at the same
time. His frustration is that of someone who believes he
alone has seen the light, and is fighting a lifelong battle
to convince everyone else.
remembers his first UFO sighting, down to the exact date
and hour - July 14, 1974 at 4 p.m. in Hanmer.
was perfectly round, like a big metal ball bearing,"
he says. "It was hovering just above the trees.
there was nothing in the paper about it...so I can't really
say for sure if was true. I would like to get hypnotized
- if I really could be hypnotized - and find out just what
didn't really become aware of what UFOs were for another
two years when, as a student at St. Michel's School, his
teacher brought in a clipping from a British Columbia newspaper.
had a photograph of one of the most famous pictures of a
flying saucer ever, taken by an 11-year-old boy - coincidentally,
almost the exact age Deschamps was at the time.
photo shows a black, saucer-shaped figure set against a
grey sky. Deschamps is such a fan of the photo he has the
same camera the boy used to snap the picture - a Kodak Instamatic
next vicarious encounter was in 1981 when his uncle saw
what looked like a red ball hovering outside of his home
around Christmas time.
he got up enough guts to look outside, he saw a humanoid
alien get out. It ws wearing - and I know some people may
laugh at this - what looked like bell bottom pants."
interest peaked a short time later when he picked up a copy
of The Roswell Incident, a book purporting to tell
of a crashed alien ship, full of dead aliens, that the U.S.
government ha foun in 1947.
whole thing was covered up," says Deschamps, "but
there are more than 350 pictures, and people who were involved
have come forward to talk about what they saw."
brings him to his next point, and the big question people
often ask him - why would the government cover up the existence
of alien life forms? What would they possibly have to lose?
a question Deschamps has a little trouble explaining.
that's the major point," he says. "If the people
knew that the government couldn't protect them from this,
they would throw the politicians our of office. I mean,
what good is the government if it can't protect you?
they've been lying to us for years and years. They feel
we don't have the right to know."
surprisingly, Deschamps is a big fan of The X-Files,
the TV show that has FBI agents fighting a losing battle
to prove the existence of aliens in the face of a government
conspiracy to keep things quiet.
pretty good," he says. "Parts of some of the episodes
have facts behind them, but still, it's a fictional show."
prefers a show called Sightings, a late-night documentary-style
show that recreates UFO sightings and encounters.
argues that sightings - even in Sudbury - are common occurrences,
but social pressures - the kind that have caused him so
much ridicule - prevent people from stepping forward.
always been like that," he says. "I myself have
lost a lot of friends, but I've gained a lot of new ones."
he has worked as a dishwasher and as a gopher at a car company.
As he searches for work today, he's conceded that taking
"Ufologist" off his resume is necessary for him
to get a job.
romantic life has suffered as well - he doesn't have a girlfriend,
and his last relationship suffered as a result of his UFO
obsessions, although he says it wasn't the deciding factor
in the end of the relationship.
it all, Deschamps says his research into UFOs keeps him
matter how hard I've tried, I can't get away from this.
It's my destiny; it's the one thing that keeps me going."
an obsession with me. It was a passion in the beginning..."
he says, his voice trailing off.
might say there's a fine line between obsession and crazy,
but I'm not there yet. I know when to put the brakes on."
description of what it's like believing in UFOs is fatalistic.
Because of the social pressures and the government conspiracy,
anyone who goes public is an outcast.
at the same time, if someone does see one, it's an unforgettable
experience that changes them forever.
equally fatalistic about the possibility that one day, in
his lifetime, the existence of alien life forms will become
he says flatly. "I hate to say it, but it's just going
to go on long after I've passed away."
would just be too big a change in people's belief system.
No one would know where to place God anymore."