Whitehorse Emergency Shelter saw a higher presence of drugs after the Connective took over

One staff member while testifying, said things changed for the worse when Connective took over, as they saw a higher presence of drugs.

The ongoing coroner inquest into the deaths of four women at the Whitehorse Emergency Shelter sees CCTV footage giving information about Josephine Hager’s death.

Selkirk First Nation Hager, was among the two women who died at the shelter in 2023. 
According to a family statement, Hager was described as a powerful force with boundless energy, who found her happy place playing the drum
Hager was living in the housing unit at the emergency shelter on 405 Alexander Street until her death.

During the inquest on Thursday, a lawyer said Hager might have experienced an overdose a few days before the night she died. Staff testimonies could not confirm the lawyer’s testimony as they said not everyone was aware of it and that while the shelter had a safety plan procedure to ensure clients were provided extra attention after such an incident, nothing was done or communicated. 

On Thursday, CCTV footage was seen to have captured the night Hager died showed her hanging out with other guests in the smoking area, the dining room and at the front desk.
Suddenly, Hager fell outside in the smoking area before another guest helped her into a wheelchair.

According to the guest, Hager had mentioned earlier in the day that she wasn't feeling well, but that she didn't want to go to the hospital. 
The footage later showed Hager walking alone across one the shelter's corridors toward the smoking area before she stopped. She then crouched and lay on the floor, appearing to be motionless in the middle of the hallway over a period of time.

The footage showed staff, as well as other shelter clients, briefly checking on Hager a few times without moving her, but she remained unattended on the floor until a client started to perform CPR before staff took over. 

At the time of Hager's death, the Connective had recently taken over the shelter's operations from the Yukon government. The Connective is a social services organization operating in B.C. and the Yukon. Connective runs the shelter in partnership with the Council of Yukon First Nations since October 2022. 

One staff member while testifying, said things changed for the worse when Connective took over, as they saw a higher presence of drugs.
While Warville and Tizya-Charlie's deaths had been confirmed by the chief coroner to be the result of toxic illicit drugs, little information was ever revealed about what happened to Hager, 38, who was reported dead on Feb. 1, 2023.

The inquest is expected to take two more weeks and will continue to focus in the coming days on the deaths of Hager, but also on Darla Skookum, 52, who also died at the shelter in 2023.  

The Yukon government says additional counselling supports will be available during the inquest.
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.

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