An image captured during a paranormal investigation by Dawn Kirkhom
You & Me BC
December 4th, 2021
The paranormal: while many of us have seen a ghost hunt or two in movies and TV, Dawn Kirkham has lived it. With over 30 years of experiences, she's performed paranormal investigations in Europe and throughout BC.
We spoke with Dawn about how she got started, her most memorable moments, and how BC rates for scares.
First thing, what counts as ‘paranormal’?
Dawn: The paranormal is anything that wouldn’t be classified as normal. Things like ghosts, spirits, sasquatch, UFOs—all sorts of phenomena that fits outside of what we say is normal.
How did you get into this?
Dawn: It’s different now, because there are so many shows on TV which inspire people to investigate the paranormal, to go ‘ghost hunting’.
But 30 years ago in Liverpool, I had a spiritual awakening. I started hearing, waking, and experiencing spirits. I started to learn more about the paranormal and was invited to what's called the Closed Development Circle.
Their work was focused on going into homes to clear out spirits - with them I found my calling and have been doing it ever since.
Dawn leading a ghost walk at Victoria's Ross Bay Cemetery
Explain the process of a paranormal investigation
Dawn: Every investigator comes at it from their own belief system and perspective. Some come at it from a very skeptical frame, others come at it with total belief in the existence of the paranormal, and everything in between.
Me and the team all believe in spirits, and have had our own encounters with them. Once you've had an encounter, or what you believe is an encounter, it's about what can we find a rational reason for, and what then remains unexplained.
Our primary focus is helping people with what remains unexplained. Sometimes it’s just listening with an open mind and having supportive conversations. If we can bring peace to a homeowner, so they feel safe or feel they’ve gotten closure, then it’s worth it.
DID YOU KNOW? The word ghost comes from the Old English word gast, meaning spirit
What might alert someone to the presence of paranormal activity?
Dawn: There’s a big range of things. It could be someone just feeling freaked out. They may feel like they’re being watched in a certain location. The area may become heavy and not feel right to them.
Other potential indicators include shadows, movements out of the corner of your eye, voices and whispering, disturbances with electrical equipment, apparitions, things moving and disappearing, feeling depressed with no clear reason, and children talking with invisible friends.
DID YOU KNOW? A Gallup poll found that 55 percent of respondents believed in psychic powers, 37 percent believed in haunted houses, and 21 percent believed in witches
But these things could also be explained by environmental factors, like vibrations or electro magnetic frequency, so often the experiences aren’t due to the paranormal.
We investigate to see if we can find evidence of whether it’s paranormal or environmental, and go from there.
What are the different tools and techniques you use to locate paranormal activity?
Dawn: We have 2 focuses for our investigations.
One is helping each person understand or resolve something going on in the area of concern.
We come to investigations with different tools, like EMS meters and other equipment to measure environmentals.
This is to see whether the experiences someone is due to factors like wiring in the house, clock radios, microwaves, or other non-paranormal factors.
We do that baseline sweep to understand what might provide answer. Then we spend time in the location – we may have cameras up in the areas of concern.
Some of the tools of the trade!
We’ll do voice recordings. We’ll also use our bodies and own sensitivities, to see we experience the same feelings the person in question does.
Another layer of our work is background research, to see if there’s a story to the location. Then at the end, we review everything and go over it with the person and give our opinion of what’s going on.
Each case is different; some last a few years, others a few weeks or less.
What is the experience like for you as an investigator?
Dawn: Fear’s not your friend in this line of work. An investigator that’s fearful needs to think of a different focus for their interest. Sometimes you get a quick fright or a jump, but you can’t be afraid.
Emotions differ with each investigation – some will be exciting, but sometimes we’ll get hours and hours and hours of nothing happening, and that can be boring.
I have potentially 2 clients - the people who call me in and the non-physical client. I want to be able to help both if they have any frustrations.
Most memorable experiences?
Dawn: I’ve done hundreds of investigations over 30 years. I think the most memorable ones were in the UK. The experiences there were darker and more intense. There were lots of old castles and dungeons, places of execution, places of extreme negative emotion.
Victoria and Vancouver are definitely haunted parts of world, but I haven’t encountered anything as dark as in the UK.
What do you think about society’s wider view about the existence of the paranormal?
Dawn: Everybody has a right to believe what they believe. I always shy away from trying to make people share my point of view.
I don’t feel the need to champion the paranormal with people who aren’t convinced. That’s not my job.
Anything to add?
Dawn: You’re not alone. Whether your experiences are paranormal or not, you’re still having those experiences. And there people like me and my team who can help you understand them.
Find more about Dawn and her team through their Facebook and website.
To get in touch with Spencer van Vloten, editor of You & Me BC, please send an email to email@example.com