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Yukon chief coroner Heather Jones

Opioid-related overdose takes another life

Another Yukoner has died from an opioid-related overdose,Yukon chief coroner Heather Jones confirmed Monday afternoon.

By Tim Giilck on March 16, 2021

Another Yukoner has died from an opioid-related overdose,Yukon chief coroner Heather Jones confirmed Monday afternoon.

In a news release, Jones said toxicology reports have confirmed the presence of carfentanil in the most recent drug overdose death in Yukon.

It occurred in late February, bringing the total number of deaths as a result of drug overdoses to five since mid-January 2021.

Three deaths were announced in mid-February with toxicology results still pending on a fourth death. All occurred in the Whitehorse area.

This most recent death involving carfentanil occurred in a rural Yukon community.

“Carfentanil is approximately 100 times more toxic than fentanyl, 4,000 times more potent than heroin and 10,000 times more toxic than morphine,” Jones said in the release.

“It is not intended for human use and is deadly to humans in small amounts.”

Since 2016, the Yukon has had a total of 37 confirmed opioid deaths, 29 of which involved fentanyl.

In 2020, the Coroner’s Service investigated 14 drug overdose deaths. Of these, 10 involved opioids, eight of which were fentanyl-based.

These numbers are more than double those that were seen in 2019.

Bronte Renwick-Shields, Blood Ties Four Directions’ executive director, said Monday, “Blood Ties is deeply saddened to hear of another Yukoner lost to overdose. We continue to encourage people to carry naloxone, have their drugs tested and to not to use alone.

“If you need a Naloxone kit, if you need your drugs tested, if you’re looking for support – we’re here.

“We must take urgent action to prevent more overdose deaths; we cannot continue to lose community members,” Renwick-Shields added.

“Safe supply is one of the most powerful tools we have in combating the overdose crisis, and Blood Ties continues to strongly advocate for its expedient implementation.” 

Jones said “the loss of another citizen to one more opioid overdose is heartbreaking. We must look beyond the numbers and see the impact the grief and loss is having on our communities.

“These are our family members, our friends and our colleagues,” the coroner added.

“Real change is needed to prevent future deaths. Carfentanil is toxic and clearly not intended for use in any product that humans should be consuming.

“This is what is so very frightening about illicit drug use – an individual can never be certain what is in the product they are using.”

“In addition to pandemic stresses, this is an extremely dangerous time to be using illegal drugs,” said the chief medical officer of health, Dr. Brendan Hanley.

“We need to continue to work with our partners to make people aware, connect people to supports, take-home naloxone and to treatment, and to explore potential new directions in harm reduction such as safe drug supply and supervised consumption.”

Comments (36)

Up 14 Down 5

Mike on Mar 22, 2021 at 11:26 am

@ Marylaker. You worked in the courtroom then you are part of the problem. You offer nothing to the table but defend the weak link in our society, that being the court system which would explain how I, the simple naive man who doesn't hide under a alias, am able to agitate such a scholar as yourself. Save the crap, you liberals believe in nothing because you know everything. You attack people on here because you really are not recognized for your superior intelligence and if everyone listened to you we'd be way better off. I tip my hat to you Marylaker but assuredly with a smirk

Up 13 Down 6

Can't help those who don't want help on Mar 22, 2021 at 10:27 am

Everyone experiences trauma in some form in their lives. One person's perception of trauma is different from another's and no one should be judged based on their perception of another's trauma.

It's a personal decision on how you want to deal with it. Some choose drugs, some choose a different path. It's not society's job to help those who don't want to help themselves so why do we give this more attention (free naloxone kits) than those needing medical help for things they cannot control (diabetes pumps, epipens, etc).

Up 3 Down 9

marylaker on Mar 20, 2021 at 10:02 pm

Mike: Do you ever get tired of being wrong? I worked in the courtroom. What's your next bit of wisdom and advice from on high? Seen as 'sit in the courtroom and see what goes on', was yet another flop? LOL You are entertaining if nothing else.

Up 20 Down 3

Salt on Mar 20, 2021 at 5:32 pm

The social aspect of the drug problem in the Yukon is a community problem and cannot be fixed by the government. Government is the antithesis of community. Communities need real leadership and not politicians.
From a legal perspective, dealers of hard drugs should face a 3 strikes and you're out policy. Bring back capital punishment and hang them in the public square. As a society we should not accept those who prey on us and our children. People will say this is barbaric, but how is it any more barbaric than letting them kill people with drugs? One way or the other, people are going to die and only a weak society would let it be their fellow citizens children because they do not want to face the responsibility of reality.

Up 22 Down 8

sacallison on Mar 19, 2021 at 8:27 pm

Nice to see some thoughtful comments on this story, a person gets tired of reading all the self righteous stupid comments people leave. All one has to do is think of these "druggy losers" now imagine your child or loved one in their shoes. Have sympathy now? well "those" people are all someones child, I agree with the person who suggested focusing on children. I see children everyday who are neglected by their parents to the point that they are in physical pain, but God forbid you call the parent out for not brushing the childs teeth, If you treat children like they are important and worthy of love and respect, they will act accordingly.

Up 27 Down 1

F. Lee Bailey on Mar 19, 2021 at 7:33 pm

Why is this not a charge of 2nd degree murder for whoever is selling the stuff with fentnyal and carfentnyal in it?

Up 11 Down 12

Juniper Jackson on Mar 19, 2021 at 4:08 pm

Sheepchaser: Your comment on directing the bulk of our resources to youth is so well written, and your point right.. you are right.. our youth should always be given priority.

Up 16 Down 7

Sheepchaser on Mar 19, 2021 at 11:34 am

Agreed about cutting off adults (say, over 30) and focusing on youth. Not cutting them off, but not throwing endless resources at them either. The youth have a chance and that’s where the focus should be.

Connection to people and circumstances well outside the addiction or trauma cycle of home life, inspiration through education and play, reinforcing the understanding that ‘it gets better’ as one’s life becomes increasing one’s own with greater agency over time, limitless potential in an increasingly respectful and open world... that the mysteries and challenges that face humanity every day require intrepid explorers of mind or matter to solve. That any kid can be that person. That it takes cultivating one’s mind to escape whatever darkness you were born into.

Free drugs is the lazy way to tackle this issue. It’s the bandaid on an issue that requires deep societal surgery.

Up 29 Down 10

bonanzajoe on Mar 18, 2021 at 9:34 pm

One more thing. Want to get a handle on this problem? Get rid of Human Rights and Political Correctness. Let the cops do their job and judges do theirs. For instance, the pushers should be sent to jail until they are too old to take up the profession when they are released. Set an example for those who want to take up the profession.

Up 4 Down 5

bonanzajoe on Mar 18, 2021 at 9:31 pm

Jayne W. How about the FN?

Up 16 Down 4

bonanzajoe on Mar 18, 2021 at 9:25 pm

Marcia, looks like you guys are the ones karma is coming back to. And who would want to walk a mile in the shoes of an addict? Is that what it takes to understand druggies? I'll stay ignorant thank you.

Up 12 Down 8

Mikr on Mar 18, 2021 at 5:22 pm

The only thing that went over my head is your ignorance to fact while trying to sound intellectually smarter than everyone else. Your opinion of my comment means nothing to me. Your comment on issues you know nothing about, except what you read in books, with no practical knowledge of any of it.
Go sit in a courthouse and pay attention to the bulls*it sentencing that the judges hand these predators and come to your own conclusions. I already stated whether you approve or not means nothing to me but glad I was able to stimulate your day have a awesome evening

Up 8 Down 14

marylaker on Mar 18, 2021 at 3:36 pm

Mike: I am aware that they are men. You were the moron who called them 'girls', which was a misogynistic statement seen as you meant it as an insult. I should have put 'boys' in quotation marks to alert you to the fact that I was matching your ridiculous statement. Sorry it went right over your head. I didn't realize you needed a road map to figure it out.

Up 19 Down 8

DL on Mar 18, 2021 at 3:18 pm

What about the correlation between the covid lockdowns and the exploding rates of overdoses? The timing is not a coincidence.

We need the unvarnished truth about lockdown harms, overdoses deaths are just the tip of the iceberg. The major part of this iceberg is mostly unseen: depression, suicides, domectic violence, child abuse, unattended health issues, increased poverty, etc.

Up 17 Down 5

Mike on Mar 18, 2021 at 1:42 pm

There all little boys - is that what you say these cheese eaters are 30, 40, 50, 60 yr old boys? Get your head out of your laptop and know your place when it comes to something you pretend to know about.

Up 24 Down 5

Mike on Mar 18, 2021 at 1:36 pm

Actually I'll rephrase that - they scream like relocated cheese eating rats when the penitentiary is mentioned. Remanding their charges for months and months trying to get time and a half. Bring up reports of abusive childhoods - anything but sent back down south.

Up 17 Down 9

Mikey no likey! on Mar 18, 2021 at 10:32 am

Dear Mike - “like girls”? Seriously?

Up 20 Down 21

marylaker on Mar 17, 2021 at 6:12 pm

Last comment. I could not care less if the government gives out free drugs and a safe place for addicts to use them. Less property theft, and put a few drug dealers out of business. I'd call that a win.

Up 21 Down 19

marylaker on Mar 17, 2021 at 6:10 pm

To Mike,

From your post, "They beg and cry like girls not to be sent down south to the gangster jails."
No, the beg and cry like the boys they are. And almost all the drug dealers are 'boys'. Watch your misogyny. It leads to stupid statements.

Up 21 Down 6

marylaker on Mar 17, 2021 at 6:06 pm

It's too late for the adult drug and alcohol addicts (as if alcohol isn't a drug like the rest of them. It's one of the worst.)
Focus on the babies and children and prevent the problems that lead to addictions. That is where the future is.

What is wrong with us that we adults do all the whining and have our hands out all the time? Who is speaking for the kids growing up in traumatic / unsupportive 'homes', for whom there is still a chance?

Up 62 Down 2

Read: Dr. Gabor Maté on Mar 17, 2021 at 4:32 pm

Addiction is a complex issue and won't be 'fixed' anytime soon. It's worth noting that complications from alcohol and tobacco addiction (still socially acceptable) in the Yukon would likely be measured well north of 100 people in any given year.

I'm 'in recovery' (I hate that phrase) a couple years clean now after decades of battling addiction. I own a home, raised a family, go to work every day, pay all my bills on time. Outwardly 'normal' but inwardly a bit of a mess. I got help once I got sick of being sick. No one made me. No one asked me. I clawed my way out with detox, science based programming, counseling and the support of other addicts and my family was my biggest support.

I'm not 'better' I just have a better understanding of what that angry fire is burning in me and have some tools to manage it. I make better choices.

Addiction is not a character flaw. Addiction is not an illness. Addiction just 'is'.

No child dreams that they should grow up to be an addict. No one wakes up one day and says they want to be an addict. Some of us (you too!) may be predisposed to addiction. Some have seen and experienced horrible trauma. Some are modeling learned behavior from parents or peers. Some are bored. Some have been forced to street drugs to manage pain that their Doctor will no longer write a script for or the simply have no private insurance. There are a million ways to fall down that rabbit hole.

I've seen more than my fair share of death and despair of people close to me and people I don't even know. Addiction doesn't discriminate against gender, age, race, colour, creed or socioeconomic standing. I've sat in meetings and programming with you. With your neighbours. With community leaders. I've seen your bare soul. The pain. The suffering. The torture. The fear. Many people you'd never expect are fighting an internal war you cannot even begin to fathom.

I don't know what they answer for everyone is but as described above it takes the will of the addict and a fucking army of support to turn things around. Some of us will succeed. Some will need multiple tries. Others will fall, they are no less human than any one of us.

If you or a loved one is suffering, there is help, there is a way forward. Reach out.

Up 37 Down 46

Jayne W on Mar 17, 2021 at 1:16 pm

Just a few points.....Addiction is not a choice but a disease.... usually from trauma, people don't dream to be a drug addict. All that aside part of the problem here in the Yukon is there is not enough help.... gov't treatment facilities, private treatment facilities, therapists.

Up 26 Down 40

Marcia on Mar 17, 2021 at 12:42 pm

A life is a life, walk a mile in the shoes of the addicted and their families. No one cares to read your nasty emails except like minded people. Get out there and volunteer to help others and you will have a better understanding. Karma will come back to you!

Up 17 Down 44

Hur dur on Mar 17, 2021 at 11:27 am

As per usual, old white right wing whiners making this about them and their politics.
Imagine doing unto others and not wanting other humans to not suffer. If only there was like a tonne of scriptures and maybe a commandment that said those things.

Up 33 Down 8

Max Mack on Mar 17, 2021 at 11:24 am

These are opioid-related deaths, not necessarily "overdose" deaths. The difference may seem trivial to the PR spin doctors, the coroner and the journalist, but the distinction is key.

Determining causation in many of these cases is difficult. Often there is a mix of drugs and alcohol, both legal and illicit. In addition, there are often other underlying health conditions which may be a contributor or even the primary cause.

That is not to say that the latest death is not an overdose due to carfentanil. But, the statement that " toxicology reports have confirmed the presence of carfentanil" sounds deliberately vague. The presence of a specified drug does not mean that the drug was present in large enough quantities to cause death by itself.

Accuracy in reporting matters.

Up 42 Down 17

Juniper Jackson on Mar 17, 2021 at 10:59 am

People know the dangers of drugs. They do it anyway. Instead of an OD, maybe call it an unintentional, or intentional suicide? We live in a society today where government is nothing but an enabler. Let's give people enough money, a couple gets $4,000 a month to sit at home with no goals, no aims in life, nothing demanded of them except TV with cop shows, and pound drugs into their heads until life is hopeless. Parents telling their kids, its ok, I know you are going to experiment with drugs, just call us if you can't drive. MY father beat me black and blue for coming home drunk at 15. I never did that again. Drugs and booze have always been around, but in my day parents didn't say it was ok. They said it was NOT ok, get a job.

What have i learned in my years? with a lot of kids with one addict? I have learned that people are going to do what ever they are going to do regardless of what you say to them, or how much education you give to them, or how much you love them. It doesn't matter what it is. Food? Drugs? Liquor? Extreme sport? If a person does not want change, if they do not want it for themselves, you can't force them. As long as there is a buyer, there will be a seller. If I could make $30,000 by spending 3 weeks in jail..get my cell ready, I'm on my way. It's a business for many, a lucrative business.

What would I like to see happen? Education. People need to know what they are getting into and what the potential is. Treatment centers for those that wish to change, have that help to change available to them when they want it for themselves. Build a 'bunkhouse' as a warm, clean place to die, for those that do not want to change.

Invictus was required reading when I was in school. Written in the 1800s, it talks about the blackness inside of people..it says, Out of the night that covers me, Black as the pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be, For my unconquerable soul. NEVER give up.
And it ends with taking responsibility for yourself.
I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.

If you are an addict? just remember this. The government is NOT your friend. They don't want your *hit. They are going to give you money to buy your dope, if you don't buy enough, they'll give you free dope..That IS a relatively cost free solution to the problems you create. They are taking something ugly and making it look like something good..helping you out. What they are really saying is.. here is your coffin. It's up to you whether you climb in it or not. You're the captain.

Up 27 Down 13

Sheepchaser on Mar 17, 2021 at 10:37 am

Addicts and other winners just got top priority for the vaccine. Bit too soon for more whining.

Up 34 Down 11

Matthew on Mar 17, 2021 at 6:48 am

Drugs - 5
Covid - 1

Up 32 Down 14

liberty on Mar 17, 2021 at 4:44 am

This nation wide political agenda, legalizing drugs just like, hey ....have it like chocolate..... shows in what a stupid, irresponsible world we have arrived in. This.... WILL DESTROY A FUNCTIONING SYSTEM and Country and their values!!.....just leaving a failed, disfunctioning state and society of lazy, not reliable, not working, addicted people with a permanent problem behind. Does anyone really believe this makes a better, good country? Who will actively run a wealthy, modern, western society? All the druggies and their supporters?

Up 45 Down 5

Mike on Mar 16, 2021 at 8:27 pm

@ Tragedy
What the heck does the fact they were collecting CERB have to do with anything? This one strikes close to home so let's be clear on a few things. Every dealer that's been arrested has been released some numerous times and when sentenced it's a slap on the wrist. How about actually holding the courts accountable for their poor judgment on matters of public safety. Then empower police to remove all dealers from down south out after they've finished their sentences. The courts have allowed these people to come and stay here - these aren't gangster's these are predators pretending to be gangsters. They beg and cry like girls not to be sent down south to the gangster jails. How about start sending them there and let the real gangsters find these pieces of s&$# and maybe just maybe the fentanyl will stop ending up here and justice will be served.

Up 32 Down 25

Guncache on Mar 16, 2021 at 8:04 pm

Do illegal drugs, expect to die. Simple, not complicated. Don't count on help from me if you do illegal drugs

Up 18 Down 34

Givemeabeak on Mar 16, 2021 at 6:43 pm

Oh give me a break!! Look how successful the drug war has been over the last 40 years of mostly conservative governments. Another fool who would rather pour money into law enforcement and jails rather than spend a fraction on treatment. Hell even the heads of law enforcement know that busting drug dealers is an endless game and just clogs up our justice system. But hey, you and your cronies won’t be happy until you have hundreds of cops busting every party in the Yukon (drugs or no drugs) the jail will over flow, the judges and lawyers will increase with the load. Yes that will be much cheaper than decriminalizing, fines, and treatment. Conservatives... they tell you that you spend too much unwisely, then spend 10 times the amount making the problem bigger.

Up 42 Down 24

moose101 on Mar 16, 2021 at 5:32 pm

These people choose there life style and by making these drugs acceptable like Drug Ties does by testing them and then giving the illegal drug back to them encourages them to keep doing it with no legal ramifications. It's not right and that being said it seems a few bleeding hearts get all the media coverage they want . They use well chosen words like community members, heartbreaking, family friends and colleagues to make it sound like these people actually contribute to the community and their family. Tell you what any one of you sympathetic people out there just take one of these people in as a boarder if your heartbroken that much and see how long that lasts .

Up 32 Down 21

bonanzajoe on Mar 16, 2021 at 5:23 pm

"Safe drug supply and supervised consumption"? Now there's a mouthful. The creator of this load of BS should be ashamed of him/herself. Tell that to the criminal drug pushers. I'm sure they will be impressed.

Up 64 Down 50

bonanzajoe on Mar 16, 2021 at 5:19 pm

Now, illegal drugs is called "safe supply". Political correctness has a new language. Bronte Renwick says, "We must take urgent action to prevent more overdose deaths". Well, Bronte, how about attacking the problem from the front, not from the back such as promoting safe illegal drug use.
You are not going to even come close to this solution using that formula. Next you and your liberal lefties will be telling us that these druggies should have a chaperone with them while they party on drugs. And how about telling the public who are the victims of these overdoses. I think we all know anyway, but let's be transparent. Isn't that what the Liberals campaign on?

Up 46 Down 53

tragedy on Mar 16, 2021 at 4:35 pm

Is there any running stats kept of the people that have passed away and whether they are receiving CERB?

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