Briefing over ‘alarming’ increase in Hay River drug-related deaths

Last modified: January 23, 2023 at 2:30pm

Northwest Territories health specialists will address an “alarming increase in drug poisoning-related deaths” in Hay River at a briefing for reporters on Tuesday.

Fentanyl and carfentanil are responsible for multiple recent opioid-related deaths in the town, Hay River’s health authority said in an advisory announcing the briefing.

Erin Griffiths, the Hay River health authority’s chief executive, will speak on Tuesday alongside Dr Kami Kandola, the NWT’s chief public health officer.


Chief coroner Garth Eggenberger and Monica Piros, the Hay River health authority’s director of child, family and community wellness, will also be in attendance.

Dr Kandola has issued numerous warnings in recent months regarding potentially lethal fentanyl and carfentanil turning up in substances like cocaine and crack cocaine in Hay River.

RCMP, meanwhile, urged the town’s residents to “take back their community” and report drug dealers after officers said they found $133,410 in a car leaving the town.

In November, police officers suggested that residents form a citizens-on-patrol program in response to a surge in reports of crimes linked to drug dealing and usage.

Last week, Hay River’s health authority said it was introducing a new program to help families cope with the impacts of addiction.


“What we’re hoping to do is save lives,” Piros, who is overseeing the program, told Cabin Radio.

“We want to help people understand that they’re not alone. We want to normalize mental health and we want to try to help families stay together.”