A coroner's inquest into the deaths of four people who died while accessing services at Whitehorse's emergency shelter in 2022 and 2023 has been set for next spring.
Chief coroner Heather Jones said in a news release on Tuesday that the inquest will examine the facts and circumstances surrounding the deaths at the shelter, but the jury will not make any finding of legal responsibility.
The deceased include Cassandra Warville, 35, and Myranda Tizya-Charlie, 34, who were reported dead on January 19, 2022. The coroner said last year that the women's deaths "were found to be the result of toxic illicit drugs," and Jones ordered an inquest at that time.
The other two people named in Tuesday's news release died earlier this year. The death of Josephine Elizabeth Hager, 38, was reported on Feb. 1 and the death of Darla Skookum, 52, was reported on April 16.
The coroner has not released any other details about how Hager or Skookum died. However, Skookum's death happened during a particularly grim week in Yukon, when the coroner reported four deaths — all of which appeared related to substance use — that happened in as many days.
The inquest will begin in Whitehorse on April 8 before presiding coroner Michael Egilson and a jury.
The aim of the inquest is to determine the facts surrounding a death, and to make recommendations "where appropriate and supported by evidence" to prevent other deaths in similar circumstances.
Whitehorse's troubled emergency shelter has been the focus of growing concern in recent months.
Several reports have found shelter users often don't feel safe there. And those who are trying to stay sober have a hard time doing so, because the low-barrier shelter doesn't require people to be sober to access services. That has resulted in substance use in and around the building.
The owners of the neighbouring Alpine Bakery decided to temporarily shut down this fall, citing noise and unruly behaviour from shelter users.
The state of the shelter dominated the first two days of the legislature's fall sitting this month, and Premier Ranj Pillai — who took over the shelter file — has said he wants civil servants across several government departments to draw a list of policy options to fix problems at the shelter.