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Yukon Premier Sandy Silver says the territory 'continues to struggle with devastating loss of life due to opioids and mental health issues.'Mark Kelly/The Canadian Press

The Yukon government says it is working to address the territory’s mental health crisis as overdose and suicide rates continue to surge.

In November, the Yukon Coroner’s Service said the territory’s opioid overdose rate per capita was the highest in Canada with a reported 48.4 deaths per 100,000 people.

The government says in a release Friday that it will honour the lives lost in the territory next month alongside Yukon First Nations at a mental wellness summit that will focus on addressing substance use, the opioid crisis and suicide prevention.

It comes as the Tagish First Nation in Carcross declared a state of emergency following news of what it says are three drug-related fatalities in the small community in the first week of the year.

Leaders and community members are calling on the government to work with First Nations to address the territory’s ongoing drug crisis.

Premier Sandy Silver says the start of this year has been devastating and has pledged to work with communities to “take meaningful steps to ensure no Yukoner is left behind.”

“The start of this year has been extremely difficult and incredibly sad, as our territory continues to struggle with devastating loss of life due to opioids and mental health issues,” he said in a statement.

“We will work together with Yukon First Nations, community leaders and other experts to help co-ordinate our approach to meet the needs of all Yukon communities.”

Vigils and marches have also been planned in communities across the territory this weekend to honour the deaths and to bring awareness to the growing overdose crisis.

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