Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

About 70 people attended a candle light vigil early Wednesday afternoon in front of the homeless shelter on Alexander Street in Whitehorse. Two people recently died there from suspected drug overdoses.

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

Darlene Jim addressed the crowd and handed out nasal naloxone kits.

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation Chief Dana Tizya-Tramm spoke, holding two roses and a candle.

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

Jennifer Mitchell, who lost her daughter, Kristen, three years ago, spoke about the need for support.

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

Dryden Tizya, who lost two cousins Tuesday, is seen with his partner, Melvina Jones.

Comments (17)

Up 24 Down 2

Oya on Jan 25, 2022 at 3:13 pm

@ Mike This is not the fault of this Liberal Government (local or federal) much as I would like to blame it all on them myself.

This story (substance abuse in general) has been ongoing for decades under every political party. The issue does not seem to have moved forward even one little step. Twenty/thirty years ago people were crying because there is no aftercare. That same song is still being sung today. Unfortunately now, the substances are even more deadly and are taking out the young.

I also agree whole-heartedly with Sad and Lynx. FN governments should be doing more for their people and relying less on YG. From what I see, FN people are dying much faster than non-FN people. Programs could be designed for them, on their own land maybe, and culturally appropriate. It's time to step up, FN Governments! You have the power to make things happen!

My heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones. I can not imagine the pain of losing a child ...especially to something so preventable. I'm so sorry for your losses.

Up 11 Down 9

bonanzajoe on Jan 25, 2022 at 10:48 am

Mike, remember our great W***e leader in Ottawa just legislated the "conversion therapy bill. That just doesn't mean counseling anybody from the alphabet community, it will also include any counseling for anything. So, now those highly educated workers will only be into a legal drug trade - giving free drugs and giving the addicted instructions on how to take them safely. That's the road marxist liberals have taken Canada.

Up 20 Down 3

Ed Mikolas on Jan 24, 2022 at 8:33 pm

Appears like there is no solution. Grow up to be responsible and take care of yourself. Education and hard work is a solution and not excuses and blaming situations and someone else. Grow up and stand on your own feet.

Up 46 Down 5

Nathan Living on Jan 23, 2022 at 12:34 pm

Please do not set up a government free drug distribution program on a street level.
If that happens there will be a lineup que that is many many blocks long.

The solution to these deaths requires a viable program which gets people off drugs.

Up 40 Down 18

Mike on Jan 23, 2022 at 10:39 am

Your comments on this subject are not answers, suggestions or even related to the article. This liberal government is 100% responsible for the crisis, they created it deliberately and have zero actual care regarding the issue. The so called councilors that are available are not councilors in any form nor do they have any practical knowledge of the situation. They believe they can take a 6 month course some take a 1 year or two year bachelor of arts degree in social work and believe they can make a difference again with zero practical experience.
So what the Yukon provides is a handful of Humpty Dumpty creators without the skills to put anyone back together again. The drug and alcohol program offered here in Whitehorse is a complete joke with zero success rate. Zero. Great job keep feeding the funds and doing nothing to actually help anyone.
Until there is enough skilled workers who aren't side tracked by nice asses and free weed and a genuine knowledge of how to put Humpty Dumpty back together again, stop pretending you know what you're doing, you're creating the problem not fixing it. Deny it all you like but everyone calling themselves a social worker or councilor do a self inventory of yourself and be honest you are out of your league. You have no idea wtf you're doing and you're not helping with your calm voice and great listening skills. You have just opened up a can of worms in someone and lack the skills to repair them, so you fake that it was a successful session because the person shared their pain but you did nothing meaningful to fix it. So the person leaves more damaged than when he/ she arrived, great job. Know your f. En job - do it, follow the rules of actual social work and NEVER allow someone to expose something you are not qualified to fix. Until the government realizes the problem is not the drug, the problem is the people they put in charge of helping these people, justifying normalizing and trying to make excuses for these people when in fact it is your staff who are the problem.

Up 57 Down 4

Richard Smith on Jan 23, 2022 at 9:53 am

@Moose101
I worked at a Salvation Army homeless shelter for years. They have a program to get people free from substance abuse for those willing to try.
So, the "program" now is allowing, or to allow on site, alcohol, free drugs, supervised shooting up and decriminalization of illicit drug use.
It will be a catastrophe for our children and grandchildren and society in the Yukon.
These decision makers for this "program" are nothing short of criminals or, at best, plain stupid.

Up 19 Down 17

Moose101 on Jan 23, 2022 at 6:11 am

Excuse me Mr Richard Smith you know why the Salvation Army lost their contract to run the centre for Hope. They were given over 100K a month for over a year to set up and run a rehab program. They did absolutely nothing for over a year to set up the program but gladly kept taking the 100k a month. After the government gave them well over 1 million dollars over and above the operating costs for the building that the Salvation Army kept, they shut their contract down. Don’t believe me, look it up.

Up 39 Down 2

Juniper Jackson on Jan 22, 2022 at 9:00 pm

Has anyone blaming Doctors for this opioid crisis ever gone to the ER for pain and tried to get pain killers? (besides junkies that is). When you finally get in, after waiting 5 or 6 hours for the drunks and junkies, you tell the Dr you have pain. Maybe a bone is sticking out of your leg. The Dr. orders blood, exrays or CT scan, and checks your blood pressure. If, IF they all confirm you have pain, they give you just enough to bring your blood pressure down, maybe a prescription for 5 more painkillers, and tell you to see your Doctor. I have said before, getting painkillers from a doctor today is worse that pulling teeth out of a chicken. BTW, Doctors don't get paid for passing out opioids, they get paid for a 15 minute visit. If you are there for a sore throat, 15min. If you have to go back for that sore throat followup..nothing..second visit has to be something different. Our doctors are carrying huge case loads. Huge..They work for their money, which is more than I can say for a lot of people in the Yukon. (Not necessarily Yukoners).

As for this crisis. It is not fair to blame First Nations either. NO Mother wants to hear their child is lost, NO family wants to bear the burden of self blame and guilt and grief. That child that ODs? Is everyone's child, is everyone's problem. I have an addicted child. An adult. And I learned the hard way, that as sad as it is, no one can help an addict that does not want to be helped. I lost everything trying. As long as the law is easy on pushers/dealers/manufacturers/importers, as long as the government hands out free drugs, we, as families will continue to lose our loved ones. I read, kids might try drugs because everyone else does, curiosity.. curiosity killed the cat..and it will kill you too.

Up 58 Down 1

Lynx on Jan 22, 2022 at 8:37 pm

I agree with 'sad'. People immediately demand that the territorial government fix this despite the fact that the majority of the people who need help are from Yukon's First Nation communities. If the FNs themselves can't convince their citizens to stop taking hard drugs, get counselling, get whatever help they need, then how can anyone expect some white government worker, likely from Alberta or Ontario to step in, gain their trust and then help them? Let's face it, many FN people don't trust the government as it is, so why would they start trusting it now and accepting help?

Offloading the responsibility to the territorial government will never work. YTG workers will never know the inner politics of a First Nation community the way its members do. Let's be honest, these are small communities where people know who the dealers are and who the users are. I'm guessing they don't speak up because they don't want to 'rat' on someone or embarrass another family, etc., etc. It's much easier to just demand that other levels of government step in and fix the problem.

We can build all the treatment centers in the world but it won't make a lick of difference if the users themselves do not decide to step through that door.

Up 27 Down 8

The Yukon needs to subjected to an ethics inquiry… Start with the Liberals and our problems will fix themselves… And then the NDP… on Jan 22, 2022 at 8:16 am

Hey Richard Smith - Stop referring to them as professionals. It is a rarity in the Yukon and professionalism requires regulation through codes of ethics which are applied to adjudicate alleged misconduct in an ethical and thoughtful manner. Hey it’s the Yukon so what does it matter?

Up 82 Down 7

Sad on Jan 21, 2022 at 11:07 pm

Wait for it - the NDP give everyone free housing, safe place to do free drugs, Safe at Home project (the High Country Inn) is the next mega disaster.

Why hasn't Old Crow and other First Nations helping their citizens more, help them come home and give them help. Interventions that bring their culture to help their members. Why are they leaving them in these hell holes with no cultural support?

90% of the people stuck in the Salvation Army place, the Chilkoot Inn and Stratford crapholes and soon to be really High Country need their First Nations to help, not some government health and social services or Yukon housing sponsored or a funded old hotel room.

Up 27 Down 18

DL on Jan 21, 2022 at 10:13 pm

Why people take these drugs, why do they overdose? Which drug? Who ships fentanyl to Canada? The so-called 'opiod crisis' was started with doctors recklessly prescribing pain-killer drugs known to be highly addictive, and they got $$$ for it, never forget that.

Up 42 Down 0

Edie rue on Jan 21, 2022 at 9:46 pm

The “State of Emergency “ feels saturated with politics. I know what this territory has in respect to substance use services, and we have been tapped out for years. We don’t have armies of counsellors stashed away in locked rooms. We have nothing. I have no solutions here, just awareness that we have no more then last week. The best thing to come out of this is awareness of the drugs in town, and awareness to the general public to educate your kids. These are long games, but worth it.

Up 20 Down 2

D. Stephen Robertson on Jan 21, 2022 at 8:01 pm

I really am terribly sorry about your losses. I cannot begin to imagine how it feels to lose a beautiful child. You are in my heart.

Up 54 Down 5

D. Stephen Robertson on Jan 21, 2022 at 7:25 pm

I am very sorry for these unnecessary deaths. It wouldn’t have helped Kristen but has anyone considered that offering vulnerable people free drugs allows them to overconsume? Drugs kill. Let’s not normalize them.

Up 39 Down 17

Himbo on Jan 21, 2022 at 5:03 pm

Isn’t there restrictions on gatherings? Where was the police to break this illegal gathering up?

Up 92 Down 30

Richard Smith on Jan 21, 2022 at 3:34 pm

The thick-headed godless "professionals" who threw out the Salvation Army making way for easy substance abuse are totally responsible.
Now they are expanding the Supervised Consumption Site and are bringing in free "safe drug supply".
More of these tragedies will be the result.

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