‘We are deeply sorry’: Yukon premier apologizes ahead of inquest

WHITEHORSE — Yukon’s premier is apologizing ahead of an inquest into the deaths of four Indigenous women who were accessing services at the Whitehorse emergency shelter.

Ranj Pillai says the lives of all four women ended too soon and “for this, we are deeply sorry.”

Cassandra Warville, Myranda Tizya-Charlie, Josephine Elizabeth Hagar and Darla Skookum died between January 2022 and April 2023 when the shelter was being run either by the government or a non-profit organization.

When chief coroner Heather Jones first announced the inquest in 2022, she said Warville and Tizya-Charlie’s deaths where “found to be the result of toxic illicit drugs.” 

Deputy premier Jeanie McLean says the government is providing funding for community members to travel to Whitehorse to be with the families during the inquest and there will be increased access to counselling.

McLean says the way the women died was “neither dignified nor just,” and while the inquest will be focused on Whitehorse, the issues are not specific to the city.

“We see vulnerable people, vulnerable women, vulnerable Indigenous people, die from drug poisoning, from suicide, from the impacts of colonization every day across Canada,” she said. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 5, 2024. 

The Canadian Press