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A coroner’s inquest gets underway in Yukon more than six years after the death of a 29-year-old who repeatedly sought medical attention in the days before she died.

Cynthia Blackjack of the Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation died while being rushed by plane to Whitehorse in November 2013.

The inquest begins today in Carmacks, where Blackjack visited and called the local health centre numerous times as she suffered various health problems including intense abdominal pain.

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The day before she died, she was finally given a tentative diagnosis of alcohol-induced gastritis and advised to seek medical attention in Whitehorse, but had no way of making the nearly 200-kilometre trip.

Blackjack collapsed the next day but various issues delayed her transfer to Whitehorse for nearly 12 hours and she was pronounced dead shortly after the medevac flight reached the territorial capital.

The First Nation and Blackjack’s family argued issues of health-care delivery to Indigenous residents should be examined in an inquest but Yukon’s former chief coroner refused until the Yukon Court of Appeal upheld a lower-court ruling in 2018, ordering the inquiry to proceed.

A six-person jury was selected Friday and will hear two days of evidence in Carmacks before the inquest moves to Whitehorse on Wednesday.

Chief Judge Peter Chisholm of the Territorial Court of Yukon presides over the hearing, which is expected to continue until Jan. 31.

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