Yukon's chief coroner orders inquest into drug-related deaths of 2 women

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A photo of Myranda Tizya-Charlie, one of the two women for whom Yukon's chief coroner has called for an inquest. Tizya-Charlie and Cassandra Warville died in January. Their deaths were related to toxic illicit drugs, the chief coroner says. (Anna Desmarais/CBC - image credit)
A photo of Myranda Tizya-Charlie, one of the two women for whom Yukon's chief coroner has called for an inquest. Tizya-Charlie and Cassandra Warville died in January. Their deaths were related to toxic illicit drugs, the chief coroner says. (Anna Desmarais/CBC - image credit)

Yukon's chief coroner, Heather Jones, has ordered an inquest into the drug-related deaths of two women in Whitehorse earlier this year.

Myranda Tizya-Charlie, 34, and Cassandra Warville, 35, died on Jan. 19 at the Whitehorse emergency shelter.

In a news release on Friday, the chief coroner's office said both deaths "were found to be the result of toxic illicit drugs."

The release states that the time, date and place for the inquest will be fixed after the chief coroner appoints a presiding coroner.

17 people died from using toxic, illicit drugs so far in 2022

In a separate news release on Friday, the chief coroner's office said the Yukon continues to lead the country in deaths per capita caused by the use of toxic, illicit drugs.

Seventeen people in the territory died from toxic, illicit drugs so far in 2022.

"Opioids in the form of fentanyl continue to be present in the majority of the fatalities," states the news release.

Statistics Canada
Statistics Canada

Last year, 25 people in Yukon died from opioid-related deaths.

They represented 33 per cent of all cases investigated by the Yukon's coroner's office.

Of the 17 deaths this year, 14 happened in Whitehorse, and 12 were First Nations citizens. Fentanyl was involved in 14 cases, while benzodiazapines, or "benzos," were confirmed in six cases.

Decriminalizing small quantities of hard drugs

Last month, Health and Social Services Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee said the territorial government is considering decriminalizing small quantities of hard drugs, following in the footsteps of B.C., where the measure was introduced in May.

In the news release, Jones said she is in favour of the measure.

"[It] … acknowledges substance use to be a medical issue rather than increasing stigmatization through criminalization," she said.

Jones added her office also "strongly advocates a means of providing access to a safe drug supply as we continue to see the impact of each lost life."

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