Whitehorse Daily Star

Deaths prompt state of emergency declaration

The executive council of the Carcross/Tagish First Nation (C/TFN) has declared a state of emergency in the wake of recent drug-related deaths impacting the community.

By Whitehorse Star on January 12, 2022

CARCROSS – The executive council of the Carcross/Tagish First Nation (C/TFN) has declared a state of  emergency in the wake of recent drug-related deaths impacting the community.  

The decision, announced today, was made with strong support by the community following the news of three drug-related fatalities impacting the community within the first week of the new year. 

“Our nation is deeply saddened by the recent loss of three of our people to drug overdoses,” Chief Lynda Dickson (Skoehoeteen) said in a statement included in the press release.

“The issue is as complex as the people that we have lost, and like every single one of those people, carefully acknowledging and addressing each aspect of this problem, matters and deserves our utmost concern. As leaders, it is our duty to prioritize the health and wellness of our people.”

Leaders and community members gathered at an emergency meeting last Friday and hosted a generative discussion on issues and needs surrounding the drug crisis.

The wide-ranging dialogue cultivated common themes echoed by other communities and public figures concerning the drug epidemic in the territory, says the press release.

The dialogue included the need for co-ordinated, community-led approaches, collaboration with other Yukon First Nations and orders of government, and a desire to cultivate community services and supports. 

The Yukon government and Dr. Catherine Elliott, the acting chief medical officer of health, issued a warning to the public today that the street drug supply is contaminated.

Health and Social Services Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee said the Yukon coroner’s office has confirmed one recent death and is working on other cases.

She said it takes some time for the process to be finished and a conclusion reached, but added there is clear evidence the street drugs are being contaminated by benzodiazepine, among other substances.

Neither she nor Elliott would offer much comment on the state of emergency declared today by the C/TFN.

The Yukon, Elliott said, continues to have the highest rate of opioid-related deaths in Canada.

“There are toxic drugs in the territory,” she said.

Through its declaration, C/TFN leaders” are adding their voices to a chorus of  urgent calls for action that have been issued from various entities and communities across the Yukon on this enduring and growing issue.”

The press release says C/TFN is calling upon the Yukon government and other Yukon First Nations to come together in solidarity under the declaration and act in collaboration to address  gaps identified by Yukon First Nations and communities in addressing the territory’s drug crisis. 

In 2021, the Yukon’s coroner’s service indicated that the territory’s opioid overdose rate per capita had  become the highest in Canada, with a reported 48.4 deaths per 100,000 people.

Chief  coroner Heather Jones has reported 21 deaths between Jan. 1 and Nov. 26, 2021. The Star requested an update from her office last week, but has not received a response.

Jones, the C/TFN said, issued five media releases in 2021 specifically on the issue, calling for action on the  “silent crisis” of drug overdoses in the territory.  

The First Nations Health Authority in British Columbia has reported data confirming that First  Nations citizens are five times more likely to experience an overdose and three times more likely to die of an overdose than other residents. 

– With a file from Tim Giilck

Comments (28)

Up 19 Down 0

Groucho d'North on Jan 18, 2022 at 8:11 am

Go to any community and ask a teenager or two where you can buy a bag of pot or any number of other drugs and they can point you to the local dealer for what you want. This is not rocket science - its commerce, but for a variety of reasons whenever somebody suffers or dies from the drug trade a wave of forgetfulness covers the community and many look the other way.
This drug problem will not be fixed until the people want it fixed.

Up 12 Down 0

F. Lee Bailey on Jan 18, 2022 at 2:55 am

Just looking at one little myopic sliver of this problem and I have suggested this before when the subject came up. That is to make the dealers responsible for what they do. They get charged with drug trafficking and are free to walk after a couple of years to repeat the cycle. What they are really doing is indirectly killing people by selling a substance that is potentially lethal. This is more serious than just trafficking drugs but is not treated so by the courts.
Where is the legal development and who is responsible for reflecting this in society? Right now the dealers are getting a free ride for what they are actually responsible for and contributing to in a direct fashion.
Justice is blind indeed.

Up 16 Down 3

Jim Dandee on Jan 17, 2022 at 7:32 am

@the hammer
The reason CBC censors comments on indigenous issues is that they do not want to hear comments that run contrary to their victimhood narrative. You don’t counter bad ideas with censorship. Bad ideas and lies are replaced with good ideas and the truth through dialogue and free speech.

Up 27 Down 1

Yukoner on Jan 16, 2022 at 11:07 am

First Nation's Governments need to start taking action on the illegal activity in their communities. Community members have died, and nothing has ever been done to address the issues or people held responsible for anything. They will not work with the RCMP on these issues either. Parents need to start teaching their children the dangers of alcohol and drug use.

Up 7 Down 5

Josey Wales on Jan 16, 2022 at 10:22 am

Hey y’all...don’t let The Hammer have a great impact on your perceptions.
Comrade Hammer is the type that when it strikes, it squeaks.
A Hammer used in the mind of a yet to be developed toddler, just makes noise and has very little inertia.
It does have value for entertainment and every once in a while a good counterpoint.
So every once in a while, I suggest it’s an intentional troll.

Up 22 Down 2

Lisa on Jan 15, 2022 at 3:57 pm

First Nation communities and any other community has to start speaking up. Start informing the local RCMP, or Crime Stoppers about what they know. As small as these communities are, you can't tell me no one knows who the dealers are. Or where the dealers go to sell their crap. There are only three ways to get drugs to the Yukon
A business who is a front, a airline or someone is driving it here. Guaranteed they don't drive In day light hours. So we need k9 dogs at the airport, Canada post and a different way to watch the highways. I hope every community and ever family in the Yukon has a few narcs, so we can keep getting rid of people who are killing people with drugs.

Up 8 Down 16

Hammered Times on Jan 15, 2022 at 9:35 am

To TheHammer - usually when I read your posts I hear that song in my head: It’s Hammer Time. I let the thought pass quickly before it digresses into some Lampoonish, rabbit-hole, mind bend… Wow! We gotta get outta this place if it’s the last thing we ever do…

It’s unclear to me how anybody could not see the connection between fascism and the genocide of FN people’s and cultures. Mass deaths, mass graves, apprehension of children from their families, medical experiments, internment camps, sterilization, deliberate food deprivation, and the enslavement of the mind and body through methods of Taylorism…

So, when the government calls me or anyone else a racist I have a duty as a citizen to reject that label, identify the hypocrisy, provide them with a mirror, tell them how to use it, and inform them that until “you” as a “system” get your act together you have no legitimacy to govern for the people.

When will “all” you people learn? FFS…

Up 6 Down 14

Chuck Farley on Jan 14, 2022 at 8:25 pm

TheHammer; Tou-che; you friggin nailed it and touched a nerve as evident by the thumbs down.

Up 28 Down 5

You make me sick! on Jan 14, 2022 at 11:06 am

Absolutely bang on Richard Smith - Harm reduction is soul destruction practiced by incompetent, self-absorbed, and self-enriching so-called helping professionals.

This town runs a disease model through its hub-model- disaster by individuals who are good at making themselves feel good. They avoid the real work because they are incapable of it, they can only go by feel.

This has resulted in a dulling and deadening of expertise, and a commensurate rise in unethical practices. There is a parallel emphasis on the stupidity of virtual counselling and other methods that cannot and do not address the core needs. Many Counselors unwittingly and wittingly encourage avoidance in dealing with trauma narratives choosing to deal with surface issues.

Another unfortunate aspect of all this is the de-emphasis on personal accountability - You suffer from a disease, it’s not your fault, you had a bad childhood, mommy didn’t love you enough/at all… Wah, wah, wah, call the whambulance!

Personal accountability and responsibility are the necessary ingredients to effect change in your psychology… It does not happen by osmotic processes listening to some pretty, little, bobble-headed, bundle of positivity - It is the opposite of what needs to be done.

Up 26 Down 9

Guncache on Jan 13, 2022 at 6:33 pm

I have a foolproof, no cost solution. DON'T take illicit drugs. Don't count on me to administer naloxone, you're on your own. And further reducing cost, stop handling out the kits. That's taxpayers dollars. Everyone knows you risk your life taking illicit drugs.

Up 14 Down 29

TheHammer on Jan 13, 2022 at 3:56 pm

Has anyone wondered why on the CBC on line news there is no space for comments on the 'Indigenous' news section? Whitehorse Star comments page has become a platform for people with a racist mind-set. The same people are up in arms about Government control and manipulation, while expressing dictatorial opinions about First Nations, and blatant ignorance of Canadian social history, as though the genocide by Government and Church never happened, how does that fit with your hysterical rants about totalitarian fascist accusations? Bizarre and definitely Canadian.

Up 25 Down 4

Richard Smith on Jan 13, 2022 at 2:17 pm

@Jackie M, @Chuck Farley
In regards to SCS - Supervised Consumption Sites and OPS - Overdose Prevention Sites including drug "Safe Supply", they started in Vancouver in 2003 when there were about 200 yearly drug overdose deaths. In 2021, with now about 50 of these sites, there was about 2000 drug overdose deaths there.

As one who spent years working with addictions I can attest they are a disaster.
Google the article - Harm in Harm Reduction by Rufo 2020.

In short, the best method to help drug addicts are tested programs getting them off drugs.
The only real benefit these sites have is making their employees wealthy.

Up 14 Down 3

Morey Smith on Jan 13, 2022 at 10:51 am

Elijah Smith Highlights this same concern back in 1973 in The Document… ‘Together Today for Our Children Tomorrow’… !!

Up 33 Down 6

Jeff Bikaboom on Jan 13, 2022 at 10:24 am

Why are people taking drugs?

Is it because they took the marijuana and the gate was opened? Is there a void in users life that they are filling? Were they abused as children? Were they loved and guided growing up? Do they have a purpose in life? Are they biologically prone to addiction? Do they have family and friends to support them? Are they in touch with nature? Do they have recreational activities? Do they have a healthy lifestyle? Do they have mental health problems? Are they on prescription drugs? Do they have FASD? Are they employed? Did they finish high school, and are capable of entering the workforce? Are they bored? Do they hunt? Is there a correlation between alcoholism and their drug use? Do they have a reason to be sober? Are they a product of a generational cycle of abuse?

Did anything happen in the last year to make people more isolated, fearful lonely, depressed?
If jail and punishment worked, drugs would have ceased to exist in the 80's. Policing and prisons are expensive. What support do drug users currently have? Is there anything that can be done other than education and support? There are zero pros to doing dirty street drugs and infinite cons, so why are people doing them?

Are the people dying addicts? Are they youth or adults? Are they taking the drugs for recreation or to get a fix? If they are addicts do they actually want help?

It is a complex issue, I am not sure if a state of emergency has the wherewithal to solve it.

Up 50 Down 9

Dave on Jan 13, 2022 at 9:40 am

Why do they they need federal government help?
Are they not self governing?

Up 35 Down 8

Matthew on Jan 13, 2022 at 7:53 am

This is by far the REAL pandemic.. we now have more drug deaths per capita than anywhere else in Canada! Liberals solution.. free drugs!!

Up 44 Down 14

Dave on Jan 13, 2022 at 4:23 am

I thought Carcross/Tagish was self governing? Why do they still need federal help? I think everything will be fine after the smudge.

Up 6 Down 21

Chuck Farley on Jan 12, 2022 at 9:27 pm

Richard Smith; really, is that all you got?

Up 33 Down 9

Is the Hub Model working? A big fat, NO! on Jan 12, 2022 at 9:05 pm

What happened to hub model? Counsellors and staffed offices in every community. Let’s legalize or decriminalize street drugs. What an effing brilliant idea! Perhaps they were being misled with stupidity about harm reduction? It’s okay, it’s safe, they are almost legal.

The issue is not complicated. Don’t do drugs and stop giving them out like candy at grandmas house - FFS! How many more do these Liberal policies have to kill before something changes?

Up 34 Down 6

Erwin Glock on Jan 12, 2022 at 6:05 pm

What did we expect from T-A McP? She left a chaos in Education and in Health and
Social Services don't expect much better. Blah Bla Blah

Up 46 Down 8

bonanzajoe on Jan 12, 2022 at 4:45 pm

The question I would like to ask is, what has C/TFN done about this in the past, and what are they going to do about it in the future? I believe the governments have been giving them millions of dollars over the years to fight this problem. Just ask former MP Larry Bagnell.

Up 13 Down 17

Jackie M. on Jan 12, 2022 at 3:56 pm

@Richard Smith. What are the alternatives to a proliferation of overdose deaths in the Yukon? As a society, are we okay to stand by and allow addicts to continue to die as a result of contaminated illegal drugs? Perhaps, in time, some would have a moment of clarity to commit themselves to treatment to pursue a constructive life. These deaths are needless and tragic. I have never been a drug user of any sort - but we need to look "outside the box". Obviously current practices, including "just say no" have no traction with addicts.

Up 36 Down 8

Holy F@%k on Jan 12, 2022 at 3:48 pm

Don't Do Drugs Dummy.

Up 41 Down 8

Groucho d'North on Jan 12, 2022 at 3:40 pm

I'm curious - have any of the First Nations expressed their position to the courts and the slap on the wrist punishments given to the drug dealers that get caught?
You've got to start somewhere, so the first place might best be on those who profit from the pain and addictions of others.

Up 69 Down 12

My Opinion on Jan 12, 2022 at 3:04 pm

If the First Nations are sincere about trying to solve the drug problem here is a big part of the problem.
Don't pay your Citizens to do nothing.
Create jobs, get involved in projects ie Mining, Logging, Housing, Community Service.

Being paid to sit at home, do drugs, play video games, housing paid for, cash to spend.
What could possibly go wrong?

Up 24 Down 11

My Opinion on Jan 12, 2022 at 2:58 pm

Many more deaths from this then COVID but COVID drama fuels the dogma fro Government. Suits their narrative. Control the masses.

From the latest CMOH statement, "to stay safe keep to the isolation approach". "Unless you are a Drug user then the advice is to gather with others to do your drugs". No wonder people don't trust a word coming out of authorities.

Up 46 Down 8

My Opinion on Jan 12, 2022 at 2:52 pm

"clear evidence the street drugs are being contaminated by benzodiazepine, among other substances."

What a stupid statement Opiods are already a toxic substance. Good Lord how stupid are people, DON'T DO DRUGS OR YOU MAY DIE. How much clearer does it have to be?

Up 63 Down 40

Richard Smith on Jan 12, 2022 at 2:37 pm

Oh, here it comes. Government supplied free "safe supply".

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