Coroner’s Inquest into Whitehorse Emergency Shelter deaths begins in Whitehorse

Loud screaming was heard and many broke into tears in painful disbelief when the CCTV footage showed shelter staff dragging the women's lifeless bodies from the shower room.

The coroner’s inquest into the deaths of Individuals accessing services at the Whitehorse Emergency Shelter began yesterday at the Whitehorse Gold Rush Inn.

Cassandra Warville 35 and Myranda Aleisha Dawn Tizya-Charlie 34, were reported dead on January, 19 2022, while the death of Elizabeth Hager 38 was reported February 1 2023 and that of 52 years old Darla Skookum’s was reported on April 16, 2023.

The public coroner’s inquest is held to determine the facts related to deaths including the identity of deceased and how, when, where, and by what means the individual came to their death, as well as a classification of the death. To make recommendations where appropriate and supported evidence to prevent deaths in similar circumstances, and to ensure public confidence that the circumstances surrounding the death of an individual will not be overlooked, concealed or ignored.

CCTV footage showed Cassandra and Myranda going into the shower room in the facility after receiving an unidentified item from an unidentified individual and was not checked on for about three and half hours by staff members working at the shelter.

Staff member at the facility known as Brian Bunning, found Cassandra and Myranda in the washroom unconscious. Loud screaming was heard and many broke into tears in painful disbelief when the CCTV footage showed shelter staff dragging the women's lifeless bodies from the shower room.

Myranda was a hockey player, youth support worker and loved volunteering. According to Bella TIZYA, mother of Myranda TIZYA-CHARLIE, she said the devastating news of Myrandas dad having cancer, got her depressed. Myranda’s brother also passed away one year after the passing of Myranda.

The Inquest heard testimonies from Dana Lord speaking about Cassandra Warville, Bella Tizya, mother of Myranda Tizya Charlie, Erin Linklater, VGFN Executive Director who spoke about MT-C, Const. Andrew Imrie from the RCMP, and Const. Derek Kiristein from the RCMP.

Const. Derek Kirstein from the RCMP confirmed from pictures taken at the scene that a crack pipe was found on Warville, while an empty bag of what he described to usually contains drugs was found on Tizya Charlie. Pictures also showed a used naloxone nasal spray found in the shower room which can prevent opioid overdose but it wasn't confirmed who used it or when it was used.

The inquest will also look into the deaths of Josephine Elizabeth Hager, and Darla Skookum, who both died in early 2023.
According to the Yukon government,  additional counselling supports will be available during the inquest.

During the inquest period, jurors will have the chance to make recommendations at the end of the inquest. Their job isn't to find legal or criminal responsibility.

In-person and virtual rapid access counselling appointments can be made by calling 867-456-3838, or toll-free at 1-866-456-3838. In-person counselling will be available in Whitehorse, as well as in Carmacks from April 17-19 and April 22-23, and Pelly Crossing from April 10-12.

On the first day of the inquest, testimonies focused on Myranda Aleisha Dawn Tizya-Charlie, Cassandra Warville, both members of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, in Old Crow, who were reported dead on January 19, 2022.

Both women died due to a lethal dose of cocaine mixed with fentanyl and benzodiazepine. 

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