Yukon woman sent to group home Outside

A Whitehorse woman deemed not criminally responsible was saved from having to spend any more time at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre after officials found her a spot at a group home Outside.

A Whitehorse woman deemed not criminally responsible was saved from having to spend any more time at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre after officials found her a spot at a group home Outside.

It looked like there was a chance Victoria Elias was going to be ordered to stay at the local jail in its capacity as a “hospital.” But at the last minute, during a hearing in late October, the review board was told a place had been found for her in Alberta.

She was sent to stay there until an appropriate place opens up in Whitehorse.

Up until that point, Elias’s hearing was scheduled to be about the use of the jail as a “hospital” versus the use of Whitehorse General Hospital for patients involved with the review board.

Both Elias’s lawyer and the lawyer with the Public Prosecution Service of Canada agree the question is still “a very live issue in the appropriate case.” It just won’t be this one.

The Yukon government has publicly said the Whitehorse General Hospital and its mental health unit is not designed to care for people with mental illnesses involved in the justice system.

Elias was first found not criminally responsible in late 2010. A Yukon judge ruled she could not be held criminally responsible because of the impaired cognitive abilities that probably stem from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

She was one of the first adults in the Yukon to be found not criminally responsible due to FASD.

Her progress living with support beginning in 2011 was “remarkable,” the review board said in its latest decision. She moved from one group home to the Options for Independence facility, where she could live semi-independently.

But it appears officials over-estimated her ability to live with that level of support, the review board said. She began to have troubles.

In June 2014 she was arrested after a domestic disturbance.

In July the Yukon Review Board ordered that she stay at the jail in its capacity as a hospital. Jail officials were told to give her as many liberties as possible, including possible day trips.

Her lawyer, Nils Clarke, estimates she was given four to six day passes during the approximately four months she was in custody, supervised by a support worker from Options for Independence.

On Oct. 14 the board ordered she be let out and supervised daily for eight hours.

Even if she won’t be in the jail any longer, that didn’t stop lawyers from questioning whether the WCC is the right place for someone who has been found not criminally responsible because of a mental disability.

Elias was being held in general population up until about Oct. 15. At that point she was threatening to hurt herself if she was not put into segregation, the board heard. She didn’t like having to answer questions from other inmates as to why she was getting day passes.

She was put in the segregation unit and the door to her individual cell was kept open whenever she was the only inmate there.

Karen Shannon, with the jail’s integrated offender management team, said that when Elias was in general population she was indistinguishable from an inmate and socialized well.

Now the “only social circle when she’s in jail is the correctional officers,” Clarke said. Shannon agreed.

Shannon was questioned about what would happen if Elias broke the rules inside the jail. Would she be treated like the average inmate and taken to a disciplinary hearing?

Shannon said she didn’t have a clear answer on that, but “I would have a big issue with there being internal charges.”

Clarke asked whether, when the other inmates see she is being treated differently, that could be an issue.

Shannon agreed it is something that needs to be managed, but said she doesn’t think it would have been a safety issue.

She took issue with Clarke’s characterization that his client is just being “warehoused” at the jail. That implies that the people at the jail do not care for Elias’s well being, and that’s not the case, she said.

Board chair Darcy Tkachuk questioned Shannon on how long a person would stay in the WCC after they have been ordered moved from the jail to an Outside facility.

She said she couldn’t say for sure, but the shortest is a day or two.

The longer period of time someone could find themselves at the WCC is between when a court finds a person unfit or not criminally responsible and when they are seen by the review board.

If there’s anyway that could be shortened, that would be good, Shannon said.

Yukon legislation requires that be done in 45 days.

Contact Ashley Joannou at


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fines for contravening the fire ban start at $1,150 and could go as high as $100,000. File photo
Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. (Black Press file)
Yukon campgrounds to open early

Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. The early opening… Continue reading

Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce executive director Susan Guatto and program manager Andrei Samson outside the chamber office in downtown Whitehorse Feb. 23. (Stephanie Waddell, Yukon News)
When business models shift

Whitehorse chamber offers digital marketing workshop

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The aesthetics and economics of highway strips

One of the many cultural experiences you enjoy while driving from Whitehorse… Continue reading

Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone.
Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone. (Submitted)
Yukon kids express gratitude for nature, pets and friends in art campaign

More than 50 children submitted artwork featuring things they are grateful for

Team Yukon skip Laura Eby, left, directs her team as Team Northern Ontario skip Krysta Burns looks on at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary on Feb. 22. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)
Team Yukon reports positive experience at Scotties

Team Yukon played their final game at the national championship in Calgary on Thursday afternoon

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

Most Read