Yukon residents want action against the opioid crisis

The 'together we can save lives' vigil gathered about 100 people outside the Elijah Smith Building in downtown Whitehorse on Thursday night.

'Everyone is at risk,' says Yukon's chief coroner

There have been 18 confirmed death due to opioids in the Yukon since 2016. (Jackie McKay/CBC)

Yukon community members want action against a growing opioid crisis.

The "together we can save lives" vigil gathered about 100 people outside the Elijah Smith Building in downtown Whitehorse on Thursday night, to walk to the Yukon Convention Centre. At the convention centre, community leaders and medical professionals answered questions from the public about how they are dealing with the crisis.

"I'm struggling with addiction and I need help to get myself on the right path. And I feel like I haven't been able to find those doorways yet," said Eric Holland, a community member.

Holland spoke to the panel about how he doesn't feel supported by the medical system.

"It's hard to know where to go. I don't know even know where to go to talk," he said.

About 100 people gathered to march in a vigil to remember Yukoners who lost their lives to opioid overdoses. (Claudiane Samson/Radio-Canada)

Speakers on the panel included Kwanlin Dun Chief Doris Bill, RCMP Supt. Scott Sheppard, chief medical officer Dr. Brendan Hanley, and Cameron Grandy, the mental wellness and substance use services for the Yukon government.

Yukon's chief coroner Heather Jones told the panel there are currently 18 confirmed deaths due to opioids in Yukon as of 2016.

Fentanyl overdoses were the cause of 13 of the 18 deaths.  

The victims range in age from 18 years old to their early 70s.

"Everyone is at risk," said Jones.

Andrea Stastny lost her 26-year-old daughter to opioid overdose last year. (Jackie McKay/CBC)

The event was put on by the Council of Yukon First Nations after Andrea Stastny, who lost her 26-year-old daughter to opioids last year, wanted to know what leaders were doing about the crisis.

"I just got angry and I got frustrated and I was ready to stand out here by myself and ask why — why aren't our streets being cleaned up?" said Stastny.

The panel spoke about what they are doing to tackle the crisis but there are no clear solutions.

Yukon currently has an opioid action plan released in November. The plan is meant to look at long and short-term solutions like raising public awareness, harm reduction and improving access to evidence.


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