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Paranormal investigation team piques public’s interest through popular TV show

Community ProfileParanormal investigation team piques public’s interest through popular TV show

Todd Thomas founded Six Nations Investigating Paranormal Encounters (S.N.I.P.E.) 13 years ago because of his desire to learn more about the unexplained.

The fascination started when he was a child with elders telling stories growing up in the Turtle Clan in Cayuga from the Six Nations.

“Our elders used to try and scare us [and] keep us in line by telling us scary stories. At the same time, it got my incredible imagination going and just thinking about these myths,” Thomas explained. “For example, there was this story that the elders would tell us about a monster that would chase us down the road, if we were bad. And of course, my buddies and our friends and cousins used to add their own little quirks to these stories too.”

However, Thomas’ interest in the paranormal was rekindled as an adult after looking for something to do on his days off from work. 

“It started when I was living in the United States…I was a host at the Seneca Niagara Casino and our weekends were Tuesdays and Wednesdays…there wasn’t too much to do, and I just started googling haunted locations. During one of those weeks, a few of us went out to a place that was haunted and we had such a good time that we started to go to other local places with these legends around the Niagara and New York area,” Thomas recalled. “Every week we had more and more people coming with us. One week it was 20 and then the next week we had 40 people. They were so interested in it, it reminded me of my childhood and those ghost stories.”

S.N.I.P.E. leads a popular event called Paddle Down the Grand River. Local guides will share ghost stories and legends of the Six Nations Territory as they lead you through fascinating paranormal experiences in the childhood home of Pauline Johnson, Mohawk Poetess. Photo courtesy Six Nations Investigating Paranormal Encounters (S.N.I.P.E)

After moving back home, Thomas started to connect with people who shared his interest.

“When I moved back home to the reserve, I got reacquainted with my family and close friends and like-minded people [and] started talking about ghost hunting. There was one major group on television who [investigated the paranormal] that we used to watch and we thought to ourselves, ‘Why can’t we do this?’ From there, I started buying equipment and finding places for us to sneak into. We would watch out for cops; it was such a blast,” recounted Thomas.

When Thomas formed the S.N.I.P.E team, he and his team started to become a bit more serious about heading various paranormal investigations. However, there was one particular event that reaffirmed why Thomas embarked on his initial journey in ghost hunting.

“I’ve been searching my whole life [and always] wanted to see an apparition. It took me a long time and it finally happened at a local historical place, which was the Pauline Johnson Mansion. We were doing this haunted paddle tour along the Grand River…and it was about 7:30 at night in late October. We invited some family and friends to be a part of it. We had all the lights on and we were just talking about what we were going to do and here I saw movement from the first floor. I then looked up the stairs…and saw a full-fledged woman as a black apparition, floating out of the school room, which was at the top of the stairs. She just floated right across the hall,” Thomas recalled. “It happened close to six years ago and I can still remember every detail…it was only a quick second and a half, but it will be forever embedded in my mind and into my soul.”

Behind-the-scenes filming for the Ghost Hunters of the Grand River. Photo courtesy Six Nations Investigating Paranormal Encounters (S.N.I.P.E)

As the success of Thomas’s tours grew, it attracted a lot of attention from the media. He ended up convincing a journalist to come out and experience a haunted house firsthand. It also provided Thomas with another opportunity.

“He agreed, and he came with a friend of his. We took them into a very active location, an old house here on reserve. And we showed him what we did with our gadgets and techniques. He didn’t see an apparition or anything, but there were a lot of things he was questioning after he left [and that] he couldn’t explain,” Thomas said. “The story was then broadcasted across Canada on CBC Radio. Our current TV show producer heard it, googled us, and reached out to us to see if we would be interested in doing a show. And now we’ve just wrapped up season three.”

Since founding Six Nations Investigating Paranormal Encounters (S.N.I.P.E) 13 years ago, Todd Thomas Sr. has kept true to their mission ‘To investigate the paranormal using a good mind with respect and kindness being paramount, share our findings and experiences openly and honestly—and, inspire indigenous people of all ages to be proud of their peoples’ unique world views. Photo courtesy Six Nations Investigating Paranormal Encounters (S.N.I.P.E)

Thomas’ show, Ghost Hunters of the Grand River, which is on APTN, has garnered significant attention for what the S.N.I.P.E team does.

“The biggest thing is that people love the show [and] we’ve gotten a lot of positive responses. Our family members just live for it [and], they’re constantly suggesting new places for us to investigate,” Thomas said. “We’ve had a great response and people have been sending us emails and commenting on TikTok and when we do some social media blasts…the whole experience has been positive. We’ve had the same camera crew, the same sound guy, [and] the same directors. It’s just a big family now we work together.”

During this time, Thomas has grown his team to include his son, Todd Thomas Jr., and his daughter Tristyn Thomas, who are both investigators, as well as investigators, Trevor Thomas, his brother, and Jay Smith and Artie Martin, who take care of graphics and media tech.  However, Tristyn Thomas, who has been part of the team for several years now, explains her experience, especially with being on the show.

“I’ve learned to become more in tune [and] I think the show has pushed me to trust myself and speak up on things that I have experienced…thankfully, there’s a lot of cameramen who have night vision cameras, and so they’re seeing and picking up a lot of things that we can’t really see in the dark. This has given me the evidence to prove that what I would usually think is just my eyes playing tricks, is something that you can’t explain,” said Tristyn.

Thomas Sr. and his team has built a steady following through their unique paranormal investigations and TV show. Photo courtesy Six Nations Investigating Paranormal Encounters (S.N.I.P.E)

However, despite her passion for the paranormal, many of Tristyn’s friends aren’t so keen on being part of these ghost hunts, and those who do come sometimes have unrealistic expectations.

“To be honest, a lot of my friends don’t want to got with our team [and] they don’t want to be a part of it. But I’ve had a friend or two who ended up coming on ghost hunts with us. I had to beg them for years to come out and as soon as they went with us, they wanted to go out with all of them,” Tristyn explained. “I think a lot of people have these expectations of what could happen. I have been doing this for a very long time and there’s a lot of things that don’t happen. It’s not like the movies…I have never seen anyone have an exorcism or get possessed. There’s a chance that you can hear something or the odd time someone feels a touch or even sees an apparition. It’s not every time, but it’s kind of what gets us excited about each time we go to these locations because we don’t know what to expect.”

With the growing popularity of the show, Thomas continues to uphold key ethics of what he does as well as helping people to show respect for things they might not have a full comprehension of.

“The first thing is we have a lot of questions before we do a major investigation of any place…we are a skeptical team and if we put anything out there as evidence, we’ve debated it amongst ourselves and scrutinized it,” Thomas stated. “But, our biggest thing is respect. We respect spirits and we treat them as they are still part of this world [and] that they are still alive…as in our culture as well, growing up, it’s about respecting the spirits and that’s what we do.”

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