Yukon’s Coroner Service has ordered an inquest into two drug-related deaths that took place at the Whitehorse Emergency Shelter earlier this year.
Chief Coroner Heather Jones said the inquest would focus on the deaths of Myranda Tizya-Charlie, 34, and Cassandra Warville, 35. The women died at the government-run shelter on Jan. 19.
APTN News previously reported on the death of Tizya-Charlie, a Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation (VGFN) citizen from Old Crow, Yukon.
Her sister, Chantal Tizya, said Tizya-Charlie died due to a lethal dose of cocaine mixed with fentanyl and benzodiazepine. She also confirmed Warville was a VGFN citizen.
Tizya was not available to comment for this story.
A spokesperson said the Yukon government would review the inquest’s findings and recommendations.
A date for the inquest has not yet been set.
Meanwhile, the Yukon has already recorded 17 deaths since Jan. 1 due to “illicit toxic drugs,” the coroner’s service said in a release.
“This follows the record-setting and catastrophic numbers seen in 2021, when 25 lives were lost over 12 months.”
Of the 17 deaths, 12 were First Nations citizens and 14 occurred in Whitehorse. The victims ranged in age from 26 to 73.
Opioids in the form of fentanyl were involved in 14 of the deaths, the coroner said, and benzodiazaphones or “benzos” were confirmed in six deaths.
Yukon is leading Canada in opioid deaths per population of 100,000 at 48.4 deaths, Jones said earlier this year.
“The Yukon continues to lead the country with per capita toxic illicit drug-related deaths; there are very few who have not been directly affected by this ‘crisis,’” she added in the latest release.
“Every life lost to illicit toxic drugs in the Yukon is a preventable tragedy.”
The release goes on to mention British Columbia’s plan to decriminalize limited amounts of some hard drugs. It says the Yukon Coroner’s Service is “encouraged” by a recent statement made by Yukon’s Health and Social Services Minister Tracy Ann-MacPhee that the territory is considering doing the same.