Education

Schools K - 12

Drug education

Education on cannabis, fentanyl and other substances

Drug education, including about cannabis and fentanyl, is part of Yukon’s school curriculum and we work with students, staff and families to share information about the risks of drugs and alcohol.

On this page, you can learn about:

Drug education in Yukon’s curriculum

Yukon’s curriculum has grade-appropriate learning outcomes from Kindergarten to Grade 12 related to the use of harmful substances such as poisons, prescription medications, alcohol and cannabis, as well as fentanyl and other illicit drugs.

Teachers can focus lessons in physical and health education, and in other subjects, on issues and topics that are relevant to their local community, as cannabis and fentanyl are right now.

Education about alcohol, cannabis and other substances is an ongoing process throughout a student’s school years. At each grade level, the expectations for student learning in the Physical and Health Education includes:

  • Kindergarten to Grade 3: avoiding harmful substances such as poisons found in household cleaners or prescription medications found in the medicine cabinet.
  • Grades 4 and 5: managing problems related to mental well-being and substance use, understanding the potential effects and harms of psychoactive substances such as cannabis and strategies for preventing personal harms.
  • Grade 6: responding to emergencies and strategies for managing personal and social risks related to psychoactive substances and potentially addictive behaviours.
  • Grade 7: strategies to protect themselves and others from potential abuse, exploitation and harm in a variety of settings.
  • Grades 8 to 12: healthy choices and their influence on physical, emotional and mental well-being, managing problems related to mental well-being and substance use and how advocating for mental health and well-being of others connects students to the community.

For graduating students, there is a long-standing Safe Grad tradition where students are given information about keeping themselves safe during their celebrations.

The Department of Education works with the departments of Health and Social Services and Justice to ensure information provided to school staff and students is up-to-date and relevant to student learning in the classroom.

For more information about drug education in Yukon’s curriculum, please speak with your child’s teacher or school principal, or visit B.C.’s Physical and Health Education website.

Cannabis

As of October 17, 2018, cannabis will be legal in Canada. The Government of Yukon has also developed its own legal framework based on research, analysis and feedback received from Yukoners through various engagement activities.

The legal age to use, possess, cultivate or purchase cannabis is 19 years of age. If you are an adult and have any cannabis or cannabis plants, it is your responsibility to ensure children who are under 19 do not have access to cannabis or cannabis plants that may be in your possession.

Education on cannabis and other drugs in schools continues to be an ongoing process throughout a student’s school years. In the 2018/19 school year, are working with the Department of Health and Social Services to provide school staff with resources such as information sheets on brochures to so that they can adapt their information for students. We also work with Health and Social Services to develop activities and lessons to engage students in learning about healthy decision making and cannabis health effects, laws and how to keep themselves safe if they do choose to use cannabis. The use of cannabis continues to be prohibited on school grounds.

The health risks of cannabis use are higher in younger users and when used more often and for longer periods of time. Its use can be harmful for youth brain development under the age of 25. It has also been linked to the development of psychosis and schizophrenia, especially when use begins in adolescence. Cannabis can be addictive, with about 1 in 11 people who use cannabis becoming addicted, which rises to about 1 in 6 for people who started using cannabis as a teen.

Learn more about the health effects by visiting the Government of Canada’s Cannabis health effects page.

Learn more about the federal and territorial legalization of cannabis by visiting:

Fentanyl

Fentanyl is a powerful painkiller and dangerous drug that has caused deaths across Canada. Fentanyl is very dangerous for drug users, especially for those who haven’t used drugs before, like children.

It can only be used safely when prescribed by a health professional and taken as directed. It is extremely toxic when not used properly. Even a small amount, about the size of two grains of salt, is enough to cause death.

A new trend is to mix, lace or cut other illegal drugs with fentanyl. You can’t see, smell or taste fentanyl, and drug dealers may not even know that the product they are selling contains fentanyl.

We are working with partners to provide information and resources to schools to educate and support students when it comes to opioids and fentanyl, including providing naloxone training for staff, presentations and resources with more information.

We are also talking to students about fentanyl and other illicit drug use as part of our school curriculum. This information will help young people make good choices and keep themselves safe and healthy.

You can learn more about fentanyl by visiting:

Other supports in schools

School counselors are available at all of our schools and provide students with guidance and advice around healthy decision making and avoiding risky and unsafe situations.

We also work with the Mental Wellness and Substance Use Services to make alcohol and drug services counselors available in schools.

If you suspect your child is having problems with drugs or alcohol, you can talk with your school about getting help. You can also talk with Mental Wellness and Substance Use Services at 867-456-3838 to get help for your child or to learn more about cannabis or other substances.

Tips to talk to your child about cannabis, fentanyl and illegal drugs

Conversations about alcohol, cannabis and fentanyl and other illicit drugs need to happen both inside and outside of school. Talk to your child to help keep them safe.

  • Be open, calm and ask questions. Do not blame, shame or lecture.
  • Ask what they have heard about cannabis, fentanyl and other drugs.
  • Children are experts about their worlds. Listen and learn.
  • Tell them you care about them. Speak from your heart.
  • Help them make healthy decisions. Focus on your concern for their safety.
  • Remind them that fentanyl may be hiding in street drugs and how to help someone who has taken it.

Drug Free Kids Canada provides a useful resource for talking to your children about cannabis. The Cannabis Talk Kit provides facts about cannabis to help you start the conversation with your child.