The Supreme Court of Yukon made an order pursuant to section 10 of the Coroners Act, R.S.Y. 2002, c. 44 that an inquest be held into the death of an Aboriginal woman in November 2013.
Shortly before midnight on 6 November 2013, Cynthia Blackjack was discharged from the Carmacks Health Centre with instructions to make her own way to Whitehorse General Hospital (177 km away). On the morning of November 7, she was brought back to the Carmacks Health Centre in an agitated and disoriented state and a decision was made to medevac her to Whitehorse. Delays and problems in treatment then occurred, and Ms. Blackjack died on the aircraft bound for Whitehorse.
Following Ms. Blackjack's death, the Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation requested that the Chief Coroner direct an Inquest and raised a variety of concerns, specifically regarding perceived systemic failures in the provision of health care services to members of the First Nation. The Chief Coroner decided not to hold an inquest. In this judicial review proceeding, Mr. Justice Veale held that the evidence made a very compelling case for an inquest. The social and contextual circumstances must be addressed to respond to the allegations of the First Nation. Veale J. directed that an inquest be held, and that it consider the circumstances surrounding the lack of ambulance services for Ms. Blackjack and the alleged systemic failures of the Carmacks health services to First Nation citizens. He also recommended that a Territorial Court judge be appointed as coroner to conduct this inquest, given the prominent presence of the Department of Health and Social Services in the underlying circumstances.