Whitehorse Shelter has recorded 144 overdoses between 2020 and 2022

144 overdoses has happened at the shelter between 2020 and 2022. Three were at least fatal, including Cassandra Warville and Myranda Tizya-Charlie, on Jan. 19, 2022. 

At the ongoing coroner’s inquest into the deaths of four women in 2022 and 2023, a former manager of the Whitehorse emergency shelter gave his testimony to the jury on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, a testimony from shelter staff member was heard about the shelter's low-barrier modus operandi while serving clients. the testifier said people using substances are able to come and not be turned away and that they did not search people, or their bags. However, drugs and alcohol weren’t allowed to be used inside the shelter.

According to testimony given at the inquest, at least 144 overdoses has happened at the shelter between 2020 and 2022. Three were at least fatal, including Cassandra Warville and Myranda Tizya-Charlie, on Jan. 19, 2022. 

For the past three days, the inquest has been focused on the circumstances around the deaths of Warville and Tizya-Charlie who died as a result of toxic illicit drugs. 

A CCTV footage played on Monday, showed staff member letting in the two women in the shower room who were later found unconscious and later confirmed dead. 

Testimonies by all staff members revealed there were no clear policies and that they were not trained on how to attend to overdoses or intoxicated guests, neither were there any policy how often to check guests should be checked on. The only training they received was basic CPR and how to administer naloxone which rapidly reverses an opioid overdose.

Testifying on Wednesday, shelter staff said the shelter's low-barrier policy meant offering a non-judgmental space that respects people's privacy. For example, he said the facility's intake form does not ask guests about substance use, and while guests are asked to not bring drugs or alcohol to the shelter, they are never searched.

The deaths of Josephine Elizabeth Hager, 38, and Darla Skookum, 52, will be the next focus in the coming days. 

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.

More from CHON-FM Northern News

Gallery

On Air Now CHON Overnight 6:00pm - Midnight